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Saturday, September 3, 2011

"It's a magical time"


At any time the pregnancy I’m witnessing may end and labour may begin. This is only the second one that I’ve been privileged to watch from the front row but one conclusion leaps out above all others: If it were up to people like me to become pregnant, the human race would have died out a long, long time ago.
I hesitate to say “all men” when I make a statement like that. There have to be guys out there who would love to experience pregnancy and all it entails (once, maybe) but I am confident that the Y chromosomes wouldn’t leap to get knocked up in sufficient numbers to fill the planet with almost seven billion people. No way. How women do it is beyond me. It takes a degree of sacrifice and selflessness that boggles the mind. Some of them even seem to revel in it!
Sure, we’ve managed to create a certain mystique about the whole thing. Phrases like “you’re glowing,” “it’s a magical time,” and “the wonder of childbirth” all help to implant the idea that pregnancy is some glorious experience, filled with months of joy for seconds of pain. Humans are capable of deluding themselves to almost any degree, so it’s not surprising that pregnant women cradle their bulbous bellies with misty eyes as they say “I’m carrying a life inside me.” There’s no doubt that they are, and it’s amazing. But it’s also a little creepy.
If you woke up one day and found that some creature had found its way inside you and was happily feeding off you, you’d be seriously freaked out. This creature shifts and moves, kicks and punches you, and rudely keeps growing long past the point where your body can comfortably accommodate it. When your doctor hands you sonogram pictures of the thing, it looks like an H.R. Giger creation from Aliens. Without the “human baby” label, that thing inside would be a scary parasite and you’d want it out. Now.
This, of course, is what women appear to experience in their ninth month anyway. “I just want it out” becomes the mantra heard time and again. Who could blame them? You try sleeping with a thirty pound medicine ball strapped to your gut. They can’t get comfortable, they can’t sleep, and they can’t get twenty minutes without peeing because their bladder has been compressed to the size of a peanut. Sounds like fun, sign me up.
Not only does pregnancy entail carrying a growing parasite around inside you for nine months, when it’s time for it to come out, the thing tries to worm its way out of a hole that can stretch, but   not really enough, so it usually tears. How many guys would sign up for a process that results in their penis ripping? None many, I’m thinking. Painful contractions, hours of straining, and the craziest part is that there is a movement so in love with pregnancy that it has convinced many thousands of women to forego pain control and do it “naturally.” I have news for you: Nature is an idiot. If we “do things naturally,” we don’t bother fighting cancer, performing appendectomies, or prescribe antibiotics. The entire history of humanity involves breaking nature’s little “suffer and die” rules. So take the epidural, ladies. Please.
Along the way to the big finale, you get mood swings, raging heartburn, and periods of violent vomiting we gently label “morning sickness.” Swollen ankles, retained water, and an inability to climb twelve stairs without panting. Your once-familiar body twists, warps, stretches, aches and suffers. Bladder control is no longer something you can 100% guarantee. You get constipation, or sometimes its opposite number (the runs). I’m sure I’m forgetting fifty other symptoms, but it already sounds like a disease you might see featured in a patient-zero style Hollywood movie.
So thank you, women, for taking this hit for the team. If it were up to us boys, I’m pretty sure there’d be no team left at all.

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