There are a lot of things that scare me in this world. It is, after all, a dangerous world, and I am, after all, a total wimp.
One fear has been hovering around my consciousness more than usual lately, though only by proxy. See, there seems to be a plague of fecundity in my immediate network, and I am suddenly surrounded by pregnant women. Three good friends, two co-workers, a few acquaintances, and a billion people on facebook. It’s normal and all, but what gets me is how calm they all are. I really don’t understand it. Because while I’m happy for them because they all seem to be happy, I am much more scared for them, because they don’t seem to have the sense to be scared for themselves. (I say that with love. No offense intended.)
When I was in seventh grade, in “family life” class, they showed us a video of a live birth. (Why 12-year olds aren’t allowed to see R-rated movies when it’s ok for them to see that, is beyond me.) It was probably the most traumatizing thing I have ever witnessed. I immediately decided that I would never put myself through such a thing, and what is more, to prevent accidents that might result in any kind of birth-giving on my part, I would live a life of total celibacy.
I’ll admit that I relaxed my hard-line approach to these issues in later years.
I am still happily child-free though, and I still maintain a horrified fascination with pregnant women. The fact that they don’t spend that entire nine months in blind terror is outside my realm of comprehension and I can’t help myself from asking them about it. It’s awful. If the world were a fair place, I would be kept far, far away from all pregnant women, or at the very least, not allowed to speak to them. It starts with, “Aren’t you scared?”, moves to “Why not? Don’t you understand what you’ve signed up for? Did they not show you that video in the seventh grade?”, and goes rapidly downhill from there.
It’s shocking that these people are still friends with me.
But they all seem bewilderingly unconcerned and generally say something along the lines of, “Oh, I just try not to think about it.” A+ for denial, ladies. I mean, seriously, what is that? How can anyone be that relaxed about the prospect of having her body ripped in half? Is it the hormones? Is there something in being pregnant that makes you somehow the most super-brave and fearless human being in the universe? Should they be bottling these hormones and providing them to the military and the police force?
And the things I’ve learned since seeing that video have not been encouraging either. For one thing, it turns out that video — that traumatizing, horrific video — was a best case scenario video. As in, it’s usually much worse. (That’s right; I sometimes talk to formerly pregnant women after the fact, and they have seriously scary stories to tell, stories of babies wedged in pelvises, and of things tearing that you don’t want tearing, and of stomachs being cut open, and of epidurals going horribly wrong, and of almost dying.) And even when it isn’t too bad (relatively speaking, of course), I gather it almost always takes longer than ten minutes.
Now, I don’t watch horror movies. One reason is that I don’t handle blood well and the other reason is that those scenarios scare me. And they’re only fiction. This birth stuff though, it’s real. And common: this happens every single day! And women do it voluntarily!
And after it’s over, they inevitably say it was worth it. Now, whether that is true, wishful thinking, evolutionarily necessary mass amnesia, or a gigantic conspiracy, I can’t say. My instincts say it’s the conspiracy, but if that’s the case, why would anyone ever have more than one child? (This is my mother’s argument against the conspiracy theory, and I suppose there is some logic to it.)
Must be the mass amnesia.