By Peri Kinder
It’s been a long time since I experienced childbirth firsthand. I guess a lot has changed when it comes to bringing a baby into the world. Well, childbirth is the same (horrific pain, bloodcurdling screams and pushing something the size of a watermelon out the nether regions) but the approach to childbirth has undergone a transformation.
For some reason, there’s much more judgment. If a woman decides to have an epidural, you’d think she suggested having her child be raised by wolverines. Not using a doula or midwife? What are you, some backwoods nitwit who doesn’t know the difference between a contraction and a cantaloupe?
Simmer down, people. Today’s childbirth options span a wide range of experiences, so it’s like a Choose Your Own Adventure: Labor & Delivery Edition.
Before my daughter had her baby girl, she spent months listening to women’s fervent opinions of what they considered The Perfect Childbirth.
First, you have the Paleo Childbirth proponents; giving birth like a Neanderthal woman in a cave. Totally natural. No painkilling drugs. Lots of shrieking. These ladies even refuse to cut the umbilical cord, deciding the severance between mother and baby is too extreme. Instead, they let the cord and placenta dangle for a week or so, until it dries up and falls off. (I can’t make this stuff up.)
Then you have the holistic-based, chakra-balanced mothers who spend nine months eating vegan fare, listening to classical jazz, attending yoga classes and knitting virgin alpaca wool into blankets. Their delivery is an at-home, all-family experience with lots of candles, conscious breathing and a rotation of Enya tunes on the iPod. A ceremonial placenta burial is highly likely with this crowd.
Another group adheres to the just-get-this-baby-out-of-me childbirth theory (I fall into this category), where you’ll do pretty much anything to stop the baby from kicking your lungs. One. More. Time. I’d roll into the labor room, get hooked up to some serious drugs and sleep for a few hours before delivering my baby. It seemed to work okay.
Finally, you have the Pampered Privileged Parents who start the pregnancy with a super-expensive reveal party that involves the appearance of either a blue or pink unicorn. This is followed by a series of extravagant baby showers, pre-baby spa days, a pre-birth European cruise and a luxury hospital in Switzerland where mother and child are swaddled in silk sheets and fed chocolate-covered emeralds.
Part of this entitled childbearing involves a push present. What’s a push present, you ask? It’s a completely made-up gift that husbands are supposed to bestow upon their wives to thank them for a flawless pregnancy and birth. It’s rumored that Kim Kardashian received a $1 million diamond choker from Kanye, and other celebrity fathers shower their baby mommas with jewels, expensive bags and designer clothes.
Guess what my push present was? A baby.
Speaking of fathers, a man is no longer relegated to buying cigars after anxiously squeezing his wife’s hand as she magically gives birth.
Nope. Fathers now attend every prenatal doctor visit, read child development books and whisper inspirational thoughts into their spouse’s ear during delivery. FYI guys: if you whisper in your wife’s ear during labor, you’ll probably get kicked in the area that landed her in the hospital in the first place.
Whether you go all-natural or opt for medication, the horrific pain and bloodcurdling screams fade away as you hold your watermelon-sized baby and feel your life undergo a definite transformation. And that has never changed.