Twitch… snort…Kumbaya, my lord
Yesterday, or was it the day before, I was watching the end of Gray’s Anatomy. Then instead of grabbing a project in hand and making myself useful, or jumping on the treadmill and making myself a bit healthier, I stayed put leaning on the kitchen counter and started watching Private Practice.
If you haven’t stumbled upon the show, its about a group of doctors with varied specialties who have a private practice and the stories go around the cases they have and their own personal lives. Nothing new and no special interesting twist. Plain ole spin off show. Enough said.
This episode presented me with the story of a client that wanted natural labor. Big deal, might be a possible reaction. Well, it kind of is, since the representations of a normal labour in, around, in close or distant proximity of a popular media carrier are close to none. So it caught my attention. I wondered if they would actually do that – gasp – show a woman going through labor the way it was meant for it to happen. A woman in charge of her body and one of its most fundamental processes, not a screaming angry mess of a sweaty being, with legs in the air and begging for someone to get that baby out of her.
Instead. Instead I was fed this – the natural birthing woman is a middle aged, overweight, short person with messy hair that has 3 day labour that is still not finished. She is desperate, nothing in her life is going right, her boyfriend left her, her mother died and so on. The doctors make fun of her long birth plan with “such a tiny font!”. She chatters nervously constantly. Moans and straddles the doors. Screams and sweats a lot. She is basically a blabbering mess holding onto natural birth like a saving straw for her miserable life and existence. The doctor and the nurse are greatly annoyed with her. “Still going?!” they discuss between themselves the prolong birth experience she is going through somewhere in the background – the response was rolling eyes and tired look. She is a laughing stock, her character is a caricature. In line with the lala land story, in the end this fanatical woman is presented in the well known legs in stirrups position and directed on how to push (something no self respecting fanatical natural birthing crazed woman will accept, yours truly included). She is begging for drugs, she is crying, she is denouncing her wish for a non interventionist birth. And for the grand finale another character of the show storms the birthing room and in an attempt to scare her pregnant teenage daughter into having an abortion points at this sweaty mess of a tired, desperate woman and shouts:
– Is THIS what you want? THAT?!
This greatly exaggerated stereotype disappointed me. But this passes quickly. What will stick with me is the sadness I felt about how true this depiction really is. Not the character, that was laughable. The attitudes of people towards women like me. But even more importantly, the attitudes of medical staff towards women like me. Instead of support, they are met with smirks, resistance and annoyance. Their wishes laughed at and probably subject of a few jokes in the back rooms. Their requests for what can and cannot happen to their own body are unreasonable and too much to handle.
What is it that they, we, want that is so outrageous? What is it that brings us so much prejudice and disapproval? Why are we openly mocked?
Because we want to – drum roll please – more drum roll – give birth!