Namaste homies, namaste. (That’s hello in Nepali).
My cousin, bless her, came up with a great idea a couple of years ago. It’s called i-baby. Basically, she thinks that Apple will eventually invent some sort of app that means you can custom make your own offspring without going through the pain of childbirth, and given that Apple has proven that they can do anything, I believe her. I don’t feel like we can claim that we’ve fully progressed into the technological age until we’re able to do that. This app will be the app to end all apps – forget Flappy Birds, it will come complete with choice of bottle vs breastfeed, water birth vs traditional, all from the comfort of your sofa. Like a grown up, more useful, less time consuming version of Sims..Sounds extreme, yes, until you’ve seen or experienced childbirth.
Now, I don’t believe God is a sadist, but labour looks about as fun as being forced to sit through a Taylor Swift concert without earplugs. Worse, a 2 Chains (Chainz?) concert. Ok, I actually secretly like Taylor Swift. (Because we are never ever ever ever getting back together.Like, ever).Don’t tell anyone.
This morning was my first day in the Obstetrics unit in Nepal. I had the very bright idea yesterday (when I landed in Kathmandu), that because of the 5 hour time difference I would go to bed around 8 and then wake up at midnight to skype various folk. This was a bad idea. I had six hours sleep overall and woke up feeling exhausted and sorry for myself. I dragged myself to the shower, mumbling and despairing, asking what have I done to deserve an 8.30 start, have I offended the Lord, is this punishment, is this karma!!?? That all ended when I saw my first labour. After that, I was just relieved that I have so far not allowed anyone to impregnate me. And I’m considering not ever allowing anyone to impregnate me.
Needless to say, childbirth here is distinctly unglamorous. The level of care is very good, but don’t expect to have your own room with your husband and pet dog for company, and a sachet of aromatherapy oils on arrival. Instead, expect to give birth in a room with another woman, and a midwife sternly shouting over you “Gurra! gurra! gurra!gurra!” (push!push!push!push!). Also expect to have an episiotomy (where they do a surgical cut through the vaginal wall) without any form of pain relief except for your own traumatic groaning, which is apparently somewhat therapeutic (I’m not convinced).
The second labour I had the privilege of viewing, I made the mistake of offering my hand as some sort of comfort. Cue a vice like grip on my forearm with intermittent squeezing for the next 10 minutes. Yes, because it is VERY painful. I honestly think that when men ask things like “So are we going to split the bill?’ the best answer is “No, because you will never have a 4th degree tear through your vagina and anus.”. It’s probably a good way of weeding out the wasters. Needless to say, my husband will be watching every single minute of my labour, because that needs to be milked for the rest of marriage. “Can you do the washing up?”…”I did it yesterday..” “Do you want to see the scar from my 4th degree tear again?”. This is the reason why gender norms are what they are. Because essentially a man is putting in a bid to rent your womb from you, and in return you will destroy your nether regions, pass out in pain, accumulate stretch marks in areas you didn’t know could be stretched, and realise that you should have been doing your Kegel exercises from the age of 3. (Note to self).
My friend asked the second lady whether she was in pain. She replied in Nepali “I feel like I’ve just jumped from a 5 storey building”. Yeh, I’m sorry, but I’m not Batman, so if someone expects me to anything that involves that level of torture, then I expect to be thoroughly compensated for my efforts. I don’t want an engagement ring, but I better have a pre and post-birth present, a babymoon (kinda like a honeymoon), and a heck of a lot of respect to go with it. Feel free to add in regular foot rubs and learn how to braid hair.
In fact, maybe the solution to this generation of recalcitrant children is not to label them with oppositional defiance disorder, but to turn PSHE lessons into a continual stream of birthing videos. Dim the lights, turn up the volume, and let the trauma commence, because I’m finally understanding what my Jamaican mother means when she says “I brought you into this world, so I can take you out of it too”….