Friday, April 14, 2006

Babies, Babies, Everywhere...

While browsing the Internet recently, I came across an item which has caused some discussion among a group of women I talk with. Katie Holmes, the once wholesome and now glassy-eyed object of Tom Cruise’s uber-affection, is due to give birth soon. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, there’s a good chance that you know this. Or you know someone who knows this. There’s consternation among the Holmes clan, since Mr. Cruise is insistent upon Katie having a “silent birth” as recommended by the tenets of his belief in Scientology. I’m not out to knock Scientology, and I don’t write for South Park. For all I know, there ARE aliens out to get us. Far be it from me to be arrogant enough to believe WE are the only intelligent life form out there. Unlike Mr. Cruise, however, I have had children, and I have had labor. Ok, it’s not like it’s portrayed on some cheesy TV shows. You don’t HAVE to bellow your lungs out in order to give birth. But you also have to remember that you’re attempting to push a pot roast through a Cheerio. And that’s not easy work. Another thing you have to remember is that women generally like telling their birthing stories. My mom’s was pretty succinct when we chatted about how I was born. “They knocked me out. I woke up. You were here.” Oh, ok. My sister is still a little perturbed that both of my labors were under 3 hours. Suffice to say that hers were NOT. And we still refer to my youngest brother as “The Gas Pain” because my mom was due any day and was a little uncomfortable, telling my dad, “it’s just gas.” Forty-five minutes after that statement, The Gas Pain was born. For my first son, I was at the attorney’s office where I was working, sitting at my typewriter (this was pre-PC days, folks) and typing my, “I would like to start my maternity leave tomorrow” note. My water broke. My maternity leave started right then, and 2 and a quarter hours later, he was here. After calling my mom to tell her that he was born on the same day as their anniversary and the birth date of The Gas Pain, she said I was full of horse puckies…until she heard him squalling in the background. For the second one, I almost didn’t make it to the hospital. My labor coach’s teen daughter was chatting on the phone with her boyfriend. Yep, THAT was pre-cell phone. And that birth took one hour and 10 minutes. My mother asked me why I had a child so close to Christmas and I asked her if she had pre-planned to have me three weeks AFTER Christmas. See? It’s like guys telling a fish story, only women usually have the proof – the kid – that theirs WAS an ordeal. I do believe that it’s best to remain calm at birth, no matter which side of the table you are on. I do believe excessive noise is not necessarily good – they have epidurals now and they can fix it. However, I have yet to run into anyone in recent times who has had a totally “silent” birth, at least while they were conscious. I believe that birthing is a special miracle. It’s the occasion of a new life coming into this world. No matter how you do it, I think the most important thing is that it should be private and safe. I think that, sometimes we focus on celebrities just to get our minds off the natural disasters, the wars, the genocide and all that other stuff in the news. Birthing stories are fun to share when you’re with a group of girlfriends. And they make great additions to the family history. Playing them out in the tabloid press and on the ‘Net just seems to be a little over the top, even for the over-the-top times in which we now live.

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