Bring on the baby bores


To a party on Saturday night, at which something like a third of the women were up the duff. Goody, I thought, all the more booze for me, and got to work. Being the age that I am and having worked for most of my career in women’s magazines, I have partaken in a lot of pregnancy chats. Well, not partaken perhaps. More like listened saucer-eyed as a whole new area of discomfort is explained. Full disclosure: I don’t want to have children. I think they’re marvellous, but I don’t want a family myself. Maybe I am one warm bus seat away from sprouting twins, but for the moment, I’m very happy to let everyone else do the hard work and I’ll do the cooing.

With the wider use of IVF, the conversations have become more technical and, I must confess, more frightening. My friends are doing WHAT to themselves? Jesus, I think, taking a steadying pull out of my wine glass. They’re a lot braver than I am. Did you know that they induce a fake menopause? This is a process that normally takes years, surely? And they do it in a month? Less, maybe. I’m not really sure because at this stage I’m usually wincing and flapping so much I can’t hear the conversation any more.

Anyway, I now have the answer to even the merest whiff of complaint from these self-centred, self-aggrandising, self-pitying moaning minnies. I can now declare loftily, with the weight of medical expertise behind me, that pain in childbirth is a good thing. Unfortunately this, er, eye-opening professional opinion comes from someone with as much personal experience of childbirth as me. Possibly less, in fact, since I doubt he’s ever had to bend double in the street and grip some railings during a particularly lively bunch of cramps.

No, no, dear, I shall say, distractedly patting my friends’ hands and thinking about what to have for dinner. This pain is good. It will help you bond with the baby (or just ‘Baby’, without the definite article, as the more infuriating childbirth manuals call it). It will make you a better mother, a better woman, a better person. And isn’t that a lovely thing?

Ok, so I haven’t been through it myself, but I do not know a single person who declares herself improved by indescribable pain. That sounds like all the crap that used to get doled out by anyone who wanted to preserve control: which is to say governments, men and the Church. Suffering doesn’t ennoble. If it did, why don’t the people in power give it a whirl, eh? And it is not women’s natural lot to bear pain because we do it so well. Only morons and sadists hold that view.

And more specifically, why should pain in childbirth – rather than hormones – make you bond more with your baby? That just goes against common sense. Why would you want to cuddle something because it made you crap yourself and pass out? I certainly feel no great love for a cupboard I’ve cracked my head off or a car door that’s just broken my finger. Also, does this mean that epidurals make bad mothers? Let’s thrash this out. My mother had me by Caesarian. Does that mean she was within an ace of leaving me out in the rain while she went to haunt the docks and drink gin with strangers until dawn? She’ll be surprised to hear that. I’ll ring her later.


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