I’d always heard that giving birth is beautiful. I grew up in Berkeley in the early 80’s, so most of my friends were born either at home or in the back of their parents’ VW bus while the “midwife” was smoking a joint and an Indian drum circle was chanting to welcome the new soul into the world (not surprisingly, I had a disproportionate number of friends named Willow, Forest and Rainbow). When we studied reproduction in science class, the section on birth mostly involved watching the movie The Miracle of Life, where a lady with a full 70’s bush has two seconds of labor and then, voila, out pops a baby! Apparently in real life, labor is not quite so cinematic. In fact, from what I’ve heard, it sounds downright terrifying.
Apparently I’ve reached that stage in life where telling everyone you know the harrowing story about the birth of your offspring is considered acceptable dinner party conversation. In the past week I’ve heard stories of 36-hour labors, cesareans gone wrong, insensitive obstetricians, and fainting Husbands; you name it I’ve heard about it. Usually while I was trying to enjoy a delicious steak.
I don’t mean to sound insensitive. I think it’s amazing that my friends have brought children into the world and are somehow managing to raise them without going completely insane and without prescription drugs. However, I’m not sure I’ll be able to look at these women again without picturing a crime scene in their nether regions. Thanks to my friend Leslie, I’ve now seen the video of the birth of her son; all 27 hours of it. Let me tell you, I haven’t had such horrible nightmares after seeing a movie since the first time I saw The Shining.
Despite my squeamishness about the realities of birth, I think that hearing other women’s birth stories is helpful. I didn’t necessarily need to hear all the gory details of Janice’s episiotomy, but at least now I know what that word means (Google it – just be sure not to click “images”. *shudder*). I do hope to have my own child someday, so I feel thankful to my friends for warning me of what giving birth really involves. Sure, making babies may be fun, but it’s all down hill from there. I’ve also learned a really humbling lesson about myself: I may be a Berkeley hippie at heart, but when it comes to giving birth, I’m pretty sure that when the day finally arrives I’ll be screaming for the epidural. However, if you happen to know of any drum circles willing to work at Cedars Sinai, please send them my way.