I enjoyed my Epidural

“I Enjoyed my Epidural!” I want a tee shirt with this on it.

One of my ex-corporate girlfriends said this after giving birth. It was her response to the tut-tutting from the legions of corporate-girl-gone-feral workmates who were determined to get through their home water births with nothing more than some aura patting from their partners and a cup of weak peppermint tea.

Irritated by the ‘Birth Reich’ who are usually either from that happy model of woman who can spit a baby out while hanging out the washing and then ride a horse to the neighbours with a newly made fruitcake, or who are as yet childless and therefore clueless as to the vagaries of birth, she made a point of telling everyone of the benefits of modern drugs. The more the merrier! OK – so asking for fashion mags and champagne before the child was actually born may have shown a certain lack of engagement with the birth process but I admired her courage of conviction.

There has become a ‘good’ and a ‘bad’ way to ‘give light to a child’ as the Spanish put it, and we’re surprisingly quick to judge each other based on this very small part of life.

There seems little middle ground between the bath in the bush hanging onto a rope attached to your partner’s testes crowd and the ‘lets book the caesarean between the manicure and closing the takeover bid’ girls.

The corporate chicks quietly snigger at what a natural birth is going to do to all your girly bits and hence your love life and the home birth crowd point the finger and question the ability of a woman to mother adequately if she can’t find the time to wait for the baby to be born on its own terms.

Another tee-shirt I am unlikely to see anytime soon is ‘I had a home birth. And died!” This of course is the normal course of events in many developing countries but in the luxury of the West the words ‘medical’ and ‘intervention’ have become a synonym for the misogynist malice of evil medical practitioners in some circles. Personally I’m a big fan.

Medical intervention… newsflash! … was invented to stop people dying.

I have burned in my memory a conversation in Argentina with a friend about not making it to a charity fundraiser the night before, not knowing at that stage she was living in a shanty town. In my stupidity I hinted that she’d ditched her date with me for some bloke. She’d spent the night it transpired, caring for a friend with a local midwife at home, things went wrong – fast, and her friend, an illegal Bolivian immigrant who hadn’t wanted to be taken to the hospital for fear of losing her job and getting sent back to even worse poverty than she was already enduring, died. “That’s life.” she said shrugging.

Later, with colleagues the general consensus was that the departed was uneducated and hadn’t had the foresight to get medical insurance. In short she was judged, as were her ‘choices’ for being poor.

There was no judgement on the father who had helped to create the circumstances of her death nor on the conveniently ignored system of encouraging illegal immigrants into a country to do menial tasks for next to nothing and then turning their backs on them when they needed help. Each woman in that room could stay at their well-paid job thanks to the work of the barely paid Bolivian maids they had at home.

In all honesty I can’t see much difference between the nameless Bolivian immigrant and Rachida Dati the French Minister of Justice who has gone back to work just 5 days after giving birth. Although she could afford the best medical intervention on the planet and the Corporate French world are hailing her decision, French mothers are hating her because of the unrealistic example she’s holding up.

Again, no one has made a judgement on the father or questioned why he is not at home holding the baby or questioned the pressure that is on women in top jobs to pretend they don’t have families. I think she’s an educated single Mum and was just scared stiff she’d lose her job if she missed one beat.

It may look great on the productivity charts but where is the real choice in that?

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