I once had a boyfriend who told me he thought I’d be less of a woman if I didn’t give birth ‘naturally’.
Of course, this was the same boyfriend who literally threw up a little the one time in our two-year relationship I dared to fart in his presence, so in hindsight he had some serious issues when it came to his ideas about women.
I was telling him one day about my sister’s experience with childbirth. She went through such excruciating pain during her labour that she still maintains with all seriousness that if someone hadn’t been in the room with her the entire time she would have jumped out the third-story window.
I then went on to tell him that when I eventually get pregnant, I have a genius c-section/tummy-tuck plan that involves waking up with a gunk-free baby in a fluffy blanket sleeping peacefully next to me. Brilliant, no? I waited for him to applaud my practical approach to childbirth. He would never want the woman he loves to be in so much physical pain that she would jump out a third-story window. Right?
Unfortunately, the applause never came. Instead, there was some nervous laughter, followed by something along the lines of, ‘but obviously you want to go through it, right? I mean, jokes aside Rosie, it’s important for a woman to experience birth the proper way…’
He laughed, thinking I was kidding. I laughed, thinking he was kidding. Then as it slowly dawned on each of us that the other was dead serious, we managed to say an awkward ‘wait… what?’ in unison before a very tense silence took hold of the room.
Needless to say, we’re no longer together. But it did plant a nagging seed in my mind that I still find difficult to get rid of. Am I the only one? The only woman with no qualms about planning a c-section in order to avoid pain and keep my lady parts intact
Is anyone else just not interested in pushing a baby out of their vagina?
My ex-boyfriend isn’t alone; I’ve had both male and female friends react strongly when I’ve told them my future c-section plan. To me (well for me), it’s an absolute no-brainer. We no longer expect some poor chump to bite down on a leather strap and be brave while we amputate one of his limbs – so why do we still expect a woman to go through even worse agony to have a child? The hyperbolic rants I go on when I knock my elbow should be some indication of how I handle pain. Not well, evidently. I can’t imagine myself in the throes of baby delivering.
I think my birthing anxiety stems back to a book my mum left on the bottom shelf when I was in kindergarten. It was for expectant mothers and had lots of extremely graphic pictures of women with ’80s haircuts and twisted faces pushing out babies. And did I mention graphic?
All I knew was this thing I currently identified as a ‘wee-wee’ was eventually going to be ripped apart while I lay with my legs in the air on some bed of excrutiating pain.
I’m guessing that’s the reason I’ve never associated childbirth as some kind of romantic female rite of passage. But don’t get me wrong; I absolutely respect the women who do want to give birth the old-fashioned way. In fact, I think any woman who gives it a go deserves some kind of prize (I know the baby should be prize enough and blah blah blah, but I’m thinking more an ASOS voucher).
In fact, any woman who gives birth in any kind of way deserves a prize (let’s not forget the residual pain of a c-section that many women love to remind me about); even those lottery-winning ladies of legend who orgasm during childbirth had to carry the baby around for nine months.
I guess the trick lies in finding a partner who has the same push values as you do. Because no matter what way a woman decides to remove an entire person from her body, that decision should be accepted with the utmost respect and enthusiasm (and absolutely no comment on your perceived notion of her level of ‘womanhood’).
I may not get the appeal of pushing; you may not get the appeal of having a massive gash healing across one’s stomach for months just to avoid labour. Does it matter? Everyone has a thousand sleepless nights and nappies to look forward to, so what’s the difference really?
Isn’t it just the baby that counts in the end? I’m keen to hear your view.
Rosie Waterland is a writer based in Sydney. She finds her own jokes particularly hilarious. Follow her blog at http://rosiewaterland.wordpress.com/ or twitter: @rosiewaterland