There is a story my mother has told often at family dinners and reunions, much to my father’s embarrassment. It’s the dramatic narration of the birth of my little brother, our last born. Now my mother is very dramatic, so we all take the details with more than a pinch of salt, but it goes something like this:
You know Baba had never been inside the delivery room for any of our children’s births. He would always stay outside, stressed out with one of his brothers as I pushed and screamed, wondering why I had once again put myself in that situation.
There would usually be polite laughter from the audience at this point.
Every time I had one of you, I would say that was my last, but your father always asked for one more child. Well, on my third pregnancy I said I was done. Your father, adamant to have a home full of laughter, whatever that means, said we should try for at least five children. The first two births had been pretty uneventful. I mean they were the most painful physical experiences of my life, but it was expected. The third pregnancy, however, had a lot of difficulties, and the birth was traumatic, to say the least. So when I found myself pregnant with my fourth baby, and your father was still trying to keep this going, I had just one ultimatum. I was only having that and any future babies if he’d be with me in the delivery room.
Let me tell you, all I remember about the birth of your youngest brother, aside from the usual pain, was that it was faster than the others. I however have a clear memory of your shocked father looking at me from behind the doctor as the doctor held up the baby. He had been standing there the whole time and had seen everything my vagina went through! Not once did he mention the idea of another baby after that and this is why, your man must be in there with you. They need to fully understand everything so they don’t ask for crazy things!
I loved it when my mother told this embarrassing story about my father. I also found it hilarious imagining him watching my baby brother’s large head coming out of her and him being so horrified that he abandoned his decade long plan to have seven children. Don’t get me wrong, I think children are great, and those partners who want to pop them out annually for as long as they can, have my admiration. Would I ever consider it? No. The older I grow, the less I feel drawn towards having my own biological children. I've probably read too many blogs by mothers who have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from childbirth.
I do agree with the sentiments of my mother. I am not deluded enough to think the pain of childbirth should be the only deciding factor to having a child. Honestly, the parenthood that follows sounds even harder. But we seem to live in a society that glorifies the suffering of women. Women who opt to push, that is, perform natural births, are held in higher esteem than those who have epidurals and surgeries, for instance. Additionally, on many occasions, especially in marriage, men can dictate having more children than their partner wants.
Now, I’m not saying the only way to reason with a man in this instance is to make sure they are close to one's vagina as it rips apart and brings forth a new life, but I think it’s important to witness the full extent of the woman’s physical experience as the co-creator of the baby. This isn’t just for natural births - even the surgery needs witnessing. Maybe if this was normalized, then partners could have more wholesome discussions when women choose to - or choose not to - have children.
Would you want your partner in the delivery room with you?