Hubby has been an eye witness to the births of both of our boys. But, if I ask him exactly what did he see, a painful grimace washes over his handsome face. His eyes squint and he looks like he ate a bad apple. So, when I first cracked open Mark Sloan’s book, Birth Day, a pediatrician’s musings about childbirth, three words flashed in my mind:
Man. Childbirth. Hmm…
Okay. This should be interesting. I figured it would either be a doctor’s book of factoids about the crazy, amazing process of labor and delivery, or it would be full of dream-like warm fuzzy stories of babies and their births.
It turns out the book hovered happily somewhere in between — in the voice of a memoir, taking me back to Sloan’s days as a medical student, as a historian uncovering the origins of epidurals, and as first-time father himself, not immune to birth day fumbles.
Reading parts of the book made my heart swell, as I remembered just four months ago, how my obstetrician plopped CJ down on my chest, with umbilical cord and all. All 8 lbs + 13 oz of that baby, warm and alive, crying so softly, hands waving, hair wet from the journey.
I remember thanking God for the mind-boggling miracle of how one cell grew to become a full-functioning, complex human being — all in the matter of just 9 months. When I was working in high tech, we couldn’t even hardly ship a software product in that timeframe.
In just four hours of labor, with the comfort of an epidural (I did NOT wait 16 hours to ask for one, like I did the first time. No way. The minute I saw my nurse, I told her, “Get the epidural ready. I want my name on the anesthesiologist’s chart now!”), I met my perfectly healthy, dream of a baby.
One highlight for the book for Hubby and I was Sloan’s introduction to couvade. Real eye opener for me and vindication for him. There it was in black and white, the phenomenon Hubby had claimed had happened: “whereby the expectant father experiences apparently physical symptoms during the pregnancy for which there is no recognized physiological basis” (Wikipedia’s definition of couvade) (I made sure Hubby would get some good desserts coming his way after this read!).
One disappointment I had with the reading, though, was Sloan’s evolutionary perspective on childbirth, linking a woman’s reproductive anatomy to the ancestry of gorillas. Sloan subscribes to the evolutionist’s theory in this respect, so if you stand on the side of intelligent design, like I do, just be aware.
“For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb” Psalm 139:13
What do you remember from your child’s birth?
What was the path to parenthood like for you and your spouse? Couvade or not?
[ Full disclosure: I received a copy of Mark Sloan’s book, as a part of Silicon ValleyMom’s Book Club August Selection. ]
i was VERY disappointed in the long description of the evolutionary process. it was almost enough to make me stop reading. i didn’t understand why he made it sound like we as women made our bodies change and the birth process more arduous. if we had had any control, i’m sure we could have come up with something different!
i have noticed my husband experiencing some “couvade.” that was quite eye-opening for me. i will definitely be more sympathetic now!
@melanie: “..if we had had any control, i’m sure we could have come up with something different!”
Girl, that is a GREAT point. I’m putting that one in my back pocket!
And yeah, since I read about “couvade”, it’s ice cream & chocolate for everyone. Especially for Daddy!
I have just picked up this book from the library and am looking forward to reading it. Thanks for the warning on evolution. I don’t truly know how anyone can give birth, or witness one, and not see “the finger prints of God” all over it.
Every baby is a miracle and a gift from God. I was in awe over every change in my body during pregnancy, the birth process (even though mine went VERY wrong), that I could actually MAKE all the food my baby needed, her tiny fingers and toes, every amazing detail of her perfect little body. Only God could make such a perfect little creature.
@Catherine: I don’t either. It just defies logic. All this stuff works and in sync with a mother AND a helpless fetus that becomes a very dependent baby.
Nursing itself is a-m-a-z-i-n-g, like you said. How can a body MAKE something so nurturing, it can plump up a 7 lb newborn all the way to a year, in some cases (8 months for me), changing in consistency and composition, depending on the baby’s timeline of development. CRAZY!
I hope you & your baby are doing well now! God bless you, dear mommy!
I hadn’t heard of couvade – fascinating concept! Thought you’d enjoy my post-piper posts, though – http://www.thisrestlessheart.com/2008/07/remembery-when-piper-came-to-stay.html
Thanks for checking in w/ me today – it’s nice to have a connection on a tired, down day.