“My wife is a rock star.”
I meant it. Because I witnessed a woman overcoming her fears and helping a 7 1/2 pound baby get out of her body by herself.
If you haven’t witnessed childbirth, you can’t imagine the sight. Of course, it is entirely different when you are the one giving birth, I get that, and that is not my point. When you watch it; see it happen. There is actually nothing more inspiring.
The problem is that few of us get to see it. Those husbands that aren’t stuck in the 1920s cigar-in-the-waiting-room vision of masculinity know what I’m talking about. And midwives and doulas and a few assorted nurses know what I’m talking about. But the majority don’t.
And this is a big problem.
Most medical professionals aren’t trained to assist a woman in the unmedicated, natural birth of a child. And birth itself, taking place outside of the home, and without the support of family that have given birth before, is an alien and terrifying experience for the uneducated.
At the present time, the only kind of birth footage that can be aired without digital “draping” at the moment of birth is the C-section. When birth first began to be shown on US television during the nineties, decisions were made in broadcoasters’ boardrooms that it would be acceptable for people to see an incision made in a woman’s abdomen and uterus and a baby’s head be pushed through that incision, but not to clearly see a baby emerge from a woman’s capable body, from her vagina. This kind of censorship in the service of “modesty” has the effect of teaching the public that the C-section is safer and more socially acceptable for mother and baby than a vaginal birth. It also reinforces the notion that the woman’s body is something that she should be ashamed of. (emphasis hers)
In other words, we keep ourselves ignorant of what actually happens in childbirth.
This is why my wife is a rock star. Four years ago, she sought information, planned the approach, and worked at alleviating the fear of birth. And a few months later, after an amazing early labor all morning and afternoon, active labor in the late afternoon and 45 minutes of pushing, our daughter was born. Almost everything went as planned.
A little over a month ago, after only a couple hours of labor, less than an hour of active labor, and fewer than 10 minutes of pushing, our son was born. She progressed so quickly, the midwife hadn’t arrived and the nursing staff were unprepared. The birthing tub wasn’t even started. The boy shot right out and was ready to go.
Women in the middle of childbirth are a force to be reckoned with: if given the safety and encouragement to go to that place they need to go to give birth. It is entirely likely that women who have found that their labor isn’t progressing haven’t gone to that place, or haven’t been allowed to–with lots of bright lights, noises, interruptions, and demands to stay in poor birthing positions. But once there–don’t mess with them. My wife got there and took control.
I wonder if this is the reason so many men have trouble treating women as equals and refuse to do so: because they’re afraid of the lioness, the rock star that will make them look incapable, shallow, emasculated.
My advice? Find a way to witness that incredible power, that moment in which a mild-mannered female transforms into something else. Something both animal and superhuman. Something bigger than anyone else in the room.
And then pray you get to see it again.