Let’s start with a few facts. I’ve had three children. My labors were not what you might call extended or complicated. And despite our somewhat dubious attitude towards its efficacy combined with our poor practice habits, Lamaze techniques seemed to work well enough for us. In other words, like millions of women the world over, after only moderately challenging pregnancies, I delivered three healthy children.
Some curious medical students stopped by to watch my first son arrive one Monday afternoon at around five p.m. One encouraging, calm obstetrician waited patiently between newborns when my twin boys arrived on another Monday, this time at around 4 a.m. The atmosphere during both occasions was a little anxious but mostly amazing.
Imagine my surprise when I learned the following: according to an article on FoxNews.com, women should not “set themselves up for a feeling of failure” if they don’t experience orgasm during childbirth. Put another way, “childbirth can be emotionally, physically AND sexually fulfilling.”
I’m all for pleasure and fulfillment, don’t get me wrong; but hold it, hold it, hold it. All this time, more than twenty years now, I’m thinking I had some kind of dream deliveries. My newborns were healthy and I experienced no complications from their births. I felt linked to a multi-generational chain of sisterhood, connected to every woman who had ever been here before me, and done this, and heard them whisper, “Here’s your baby. Amazing, right?”
So help me understand this. I’m supposed to not feel like a failure because I didn’t have a sexually fulfilling experience during childbirth? One of my favorite parts of the article was this little nugget: couples “are entitled to an experience that is positive and pleasurable.” That’s super. We were entitled to it! Like the senior citizen discount we can get at Kohl’s every Tuesday; or healthcare.
Just in case you think this is fringe-thinking, you’re wrong. Well-credentialed women’s health and childbirth experts including Dr. Christiane Northrup, Sheila Kitzinger and Debra Pascali-Bonaro have all acknowledged the phenomenon. A post on Shine.com elaborated on the idea of orgasmic birth just two months ago. I can’t put it more poetically than the author did: “the ability to experience an orgasm as you’re pushing a big ‘ol bouncing baby out of your no-no place.” Your what? Your no-no place? I’m guessing that’s somewhere in the vicinity of where some of the more enlightened women among us get vajazzled.
But like all memorable moments, this won’t happen just like that, without your full cooperation. In fact, you need to “surrender, release and trust,” which coincidentally is the exact same attitude many women exhibit when they put on Spanx. Further, you should create a birthing atmosphere “as if you were setting the stage for romance.” In other words, having an M.D., a nurse or two, a neonatal unit just down the hall, a blinking uterine monitor, a pair of forceps and some episiotomy scissors at the ready isn’t going to do much to get you in the mood, if you take my point.
For God’s sake of America. I’ve wondered about this before but this is as good a time as any to pose this question again. Must everything be all about us? It’s not enough that as a woman about to give birth, you have nurtured and carried a child in your womb for many months, having dutifully contributed an X chromosome to the brand new person about to enter the world. Not enough that if you have a son who has his own children someday, your X chromosome may help create your granddaughter. It’s not enough that the miracle of birth is, in a word, miraculous.
No. What needs the spotlight at this life-changing moment is your own pleasure. Your own ultimate pleasure. Sure, sure; soon enough, everyone will be cooing and smiling at the baby. But don’t worry. It will be all about you again, when it’s time for your Mommy Makeover.
Renee James writes social commentary and keeps track of the things that mystify her on her blog: It’s not me, it’s you, found at reneeaj.blogspot.com. Her email address is email@example.com.