A nice woman. A self-proclaimed “cat person,” which is good, as upon entering our house she was immediately accosted by Dengue the Cat, about whom Kelly blurted out: “Her name is Dengue. Like the disease;” which is both true (yes, dengue fever, aka “breakbone fever,” is a horrible disease and yes, that’s where we got the name) and not true (I like to think it’s more of a cool name from a euphonic standpoint rather than that we were insensitive enough to name our precious little kitten after a disease that kills thousands of people every year…like, what, we’re going to name our next pet Syphilis?), but regardless it being maybe not the best thing to reveal, unasked, to a woman who practically burst into tears at the thought of circumcising a hypothetical male child.
At which point I restrained what is probably the same insensitive and self-centered impulse that went into the naming of our cat, and only inaudibly muttered to myself: “Well, I’m circumcised…” But refrain I did, because 1. we’re having a girl, so no need to even wade into those waters; 2. if we were having a boy we wouldn’t have circumcised him; 3. the first thing I noticed, when our doula sat down, is that she had brought a burned DVD titled “Orgasmic Birth” which reminded me of a doula’s perspective of work and world, a perspective, perhaps needless to say, which does not look kindly on the genital mutilation of infants.
But she didn’t cry at the hypothetical procedure, and, to her credit, said that though it can be difficult she strives to remain neutral about such matters. She also, later, said “But I don’t want to make you anxious or nervous about non-issues” which I greatly appreciated, as, to be honest, the only other preconceived notion I had of doulas besides associating them with orgasmic births was that they may do a bit of fear-mongering about hospital births. Which is an unfair criticism—not because they don’t raise a little fear and doubt about hospitals, but because such doubt and fear is almost wholly justified.
(Kelly and I just watched the documentary The Business of Being Born which was quite good, and which I recommend to all, especially if your initial reaction was to argue with my last point about the fear being “justified” (as I might have done before we conceived.) Or just watch this:
I mean, look, at one point in our talk, the way our doula was describing the hospital’s birthing nurses made me think that every nurse in our progressive little Oregon town was some version of the tyrannical Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (needless to say, I spent the
next few minutes daydreaming about how I’d fill the rebellious McMurphy role, which involved stealing Kelly out of the hospital, ditching the doula, and retiring to a nice cave to deliver the baby myself, which, despite the fact that my knowledge of childbirth is limited to boiling rags, urging her to “push,” catching the baby, and biting through the umbilical cord, would still have been a smashing success*), and even though I do enjoy the opportunity to indulge in the occasional heroic daydream, my natural tendency is to say: sure, some of the nurses may be a little “by the book” but c’mon, they’re not going to straightjacket her and pump her full of sedatives and, in Kelly’s seared-onto-my-brain phrasing “cut her open like a cow.” But the thing is: they might!
It’s pretty funny looking over my notes of our meeting with the doula: at first, true to form, I noted how the doula might be some sort of numerologist because she proclaimed to “love” my phone number; I noted (with a certain calligraphic flourish) that the hospital offers food to the father-to-be; I added three question marks and an exclamation point to the words “placenta print”;
and even noted instances of my own distracted nature, as when I started smiling in memory of the previous night, when Kelly screamed out loud and flailed her arms at one of the scenes in Jaws; but as soon as the doula mentioned “stripping your membranes without informing you” all daydreams and distractions burnt away and I entered a hyper-vigilant, Dirty Dancing “Nobody puts baby in a corner/Nobody strips Kelly’s membranes without her consent” state of righteousness, and the vast majority of my notes thereafter focused on the task at hand—determining the specifics of our ‘birth plan’ and prepping for the seemingly unavoidable power struggles between our valiant attempt at a natural birth and the allied forces of evil nurses and corporate-brainwashed midwives.
I don’t know. I really don’t. We’re both very happy with the pre-natal support we’ve received from the hospital, and we both really like (and I, at least, trust) the hospital’s four midwifes (even the fact the hospital has four midwives is a pretty damn good sign), so it basically boils down to not wanting to have to fight, step-by-step, for a “natural birth,” especially as we’ll be so exhausted by all the orgasming. So maybe it might be better to give birth, if not in a cave, than in our living room. But even that boils down to our insurance. Well, Kelly’s insurance. So, we’ll see. Stay tuned.
*I just realized, as one is want to do in daydreams, that I was somewhat loose with my hero archetypes, switching from the Coyote-like McMurphy to the Neanderthal hero of Quest for Fire. So maybe there is something to this pregnant-men-are-cavemen thing…