Monday, December 22, 2008

In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children

Giving birth and all the physical changes doing so incurs has long been framed as a burden, even a punishment, for women. I mean, from start to finish, the capacity to reproduce gives females grief: periods (Early or late starter? Chronic cramps? Bleeding for 5 days?), pregnancy (Nausea? Vomiting? Exhaustion? Loss of balance? Forgetfulness? Aches and pains? Leaking breasts? etc etc etc), birth (Like, massive amounts of pain...), breastfeeding (tied to someone else for 6 months) and menopause (hot flushes, facial hair etc etc). What a palaver. You'd be forgiven for thinking that nature (or God, depending on your persuasion) really really has dealt the female sex an unfair hand.

And yet, and yet. I can't help but feel honoured that I get to do this. That in order for my husband and me to have a child, I get to be the one that grows it inside me, keeps it close to me at all times, brings it into the world and then nourishes it with my own body. It's incredible and I feel so lucky. This could also be something to do with the fact that I am a natural attention seeker and am really enjoying the fuss people are making of me (!) - but that doesn't explain those joyful, silent moments when I am all alone with my belly, stroking it and thinking peaceful thoughts. I feel slightly sorry for my husband that, although he escapes the nausea, backache etc, he doesn't get to have this primal connection with the baby, or at least, not yet.

I recognise that other people will feel differently about this, and certainly don't expect all women to embrace the notion that giving birth should be their number one achievement in life, but I just can't see this as a burden or a punishment. It's an honour.


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