Blokes Rejoice

Blokes rejoice. Finally it’s taken a Frenchman to point out what most of us really deep down know to be a fundamental truth. Births just go better without blokes. Michel Odent a leading childbirth specialist and veteran of over 50 years of baby catching summed it up by saying that having the fathers round at the time of delivery can lead to marriage break ups and mental illness. Well I could have told him that – but it’s great to have the expert back up.

I doubt there will be many males challenging him on this one because basically – if you give them a few beers and ask them what they really think you’ll find that most are well… just not that into it. Actually – if you ask most women what they think about childbirth you’ll find that many of us are really not that into it either. My birth plan involved a complex diagram of the Whangarei hospital with an intricate tunnel system leading to a getaway car outside and a series of cartoons of me escaping my biology and therefore my destiny. The midwife must have found this obvious state of denial tedious and suggested that seeing as the belly was likely to be coming with me I should possibly think about planning the birth as opposed to silly ways of avoiding it.

In South America it’s all that much simpler. Men are banned outright from the maternity ward for their tendency to deck anyone who goes anywhere near their women’s private bits which is often unhelpful for the obstetrician especially if he is male. They also shout a lot – which is just annoying for everyone. A point I should have considered when I insisted the Latin join the ranks of thousands of kiwi blokes and be my birth partner (like it was a privilege), instead of buying a case load of cigars and sending him packing with a bunch of blokes – which would have been the sensible choice. What were we thinking letting blokes into a delivery suite in the first place? It’s not like we haven’t survived ‘man flu’ – that is where we get a sniffle and they are convinced they have pneumonic fever just to outdo us. Deep down I knew the whole birth deal had a fairly high chance of going pear shaped after the first antenatal class which, foolishly, I made the Latin attend. Unfortunately this involved a very serious woman handing out a doll to all the blokes so that they could experience the constant pressure of having to breast feed and hold a heavy baby all day. She had only just finished telling them that they were all to treat the doll as if it were their own real baby for the duration of the class, when the Latin went and threw it head first in the nearest rubbish bin/toybox and wondered (out loud but luckily in Spanish) if all kiwi men were poofters and why were they all sitting round holding dolls. I was just hoping that no one was going to call CYFS and put us on their ‘to watch’ list. The second meeting involved pain relief massage which involved all the women being on all fours with the men kneeling behind us. Destined humiliation. There are a few things that are difficult at 8 and a half months pregnant. One of them is trying to knee your birth partner in the bollocks to get him to behave himself for 5 minutes while attempting to take a massage relief session seriously. The shame of being expelled from an antenatal class in a town you’ve spent 5 minutes in with all hopes of making any social connections dashed is only just diminishing 6 years later.

Later, during the tedium of birth I had time to reflect, as the Latin paced and ranted that he felt like decking someone - anyone, and that if he ever considered having another child I was to chop off his willy and feed it to the dog - and the midwife was trying to encourage me to translate everything he said so that we could all share in this amazing and life enriching experience; that perhaps those South American midwives had got it right the first time. When it comes to birth – it might just be better if all the blokes just buggered off. I’m sure they’ll be the first to agree.

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