Sunday, June 26, 2011
Men Delivering Babies
Excuse me while I rant for a moment.
My sweet fourth baby was born recently at home. It was a truly perfect birth and there was nothing I would ever change about it. One of the most touching things about it though was that because it was an accidental unassisted birth, my husband got to catch the baby. This in particular made the birth a sacred event and he felt so much love for this baby immediately because of that moment. He was literally the first person earth side to see this tiny person and behold her beauty. (What a reminder too of how important the birth experience is for both the mother and the father as a couple.)
Two days later, my husband and older children went to church. Apparently having a baby at home with only mom and dad there will make you a little famous in a small town and everybody seemed to already know what had happened.
It is interesting to note that my husband was really considered quite the "stud" for catching his wee one. But nobody said he "caught" the baby, everybody was talking about how impressive it was that he had "delivered" his baby.
In addition to all the delivery talk, my husband who is a Chiropractor (and so has a hard earned doctorate in Chiropractic) was all of a sudden being referred to as "Doctor." Despite the fact that he has treated many people and helped many people and has had a doctorate for a few years, that never merited the title doctor, but catching a baby (on accident and with some degree of panic) suddenly did earn this special title.
Now I in no way want to steal my husbands thunder. It was an amazing experience for both of us and I truly appreciated his presence and help and comfort during those overwhelming moments of labor and birth. I do however take small issue with the use of the term "delivered" especially when used in this way :
"HE delivered the baby." Or,
"The DOCTOR delivered the baby."
Maybe I am being a little oversensitive. Maybe my mama hormones are off kilter today and maybe I am slowly losing my mind as all these kids literally suck the fatty acids out of my body and brain. Maybe I am squabbling unnecessarily over vocabulary choices.
Maybe I have become so obsessed with the power structure of birth, the loss of female autonomy in obstetrics and what I see as blatant misogyny and undermining of woman power and feminine gifts that I see sexism where it doesn't even exist.
But I am going to say this anyway:
WOMEN deliver babies. Men CATCH babies.
Maybe I should be a little more specific. Men CAN deliver babies. Men may in fact ENJOY delivering babies. That could explain the high c-section rates or the use of vacuum and forceps deliveries. In those instances I would not object to the term delivered when used in the same sentence with the word man or doctor. Sometimes it is necessary for another person, (possibly even one with a penis) to DELIVER a baby.
But- women are perfectly capable of delivering their own babies. Women labor. Nobody else can do this for them. Women push. Again, something you just have to do on your own. And women deliver their own babies into the world under their own power every single day .
Look at that amazing picture at the top of this blog post. That woman is in labor. Isn't she beautiful? Isn't she powerful and vulnerable and divine all at the same time? But more importantly, can you see that she is making a journey that nobody can make for her?
I can tell you right now that I felt every moment of that labor. I felt that baby come out of my body. I heard the primal noises I made as my body spontaneously and with great force, DELIVERED that nine pound nine ounce posterior baby. I can tell you that it was not a ride that anybody else can take for you. There are somethings in life that you must do on your own. Other people can help and support and guide but at some point, that bridge must be crossed and nobody is going to carry you over it.
So yes, I delivered our baby. My husband was there. He caught the baby. He was an important part of the birth, but nobody else delivered her but her mother.
And that folks, is how it is done.