I somehow managed to submit a couple of simple and cynical writings while getting my interior design degree. What follows is the preface to an anthology about childbirth I compiled right after high school.
The notion of a woman sprawled out on starched, white sheets, with her legs reaching out towards the ends of the universe in preparation for a pulpy, gray and purple breathing mass to desperately inch its way out of a hole whose existence I was unaware of, terrified me as a child.
Birth sounded painfully unnecessary. As I’ve always been an advocate of the downfall of ignorance and stupidity, pregnancy seems to only add on to the collection of unneeded human beings in this world. And with nurslings abounding out of every orifice nowadays, it’s no question that the downfall of humanity awaits in women’s uteri.
As a little girl, I would often accompany my mother to family baby showers. The women were always prompted to share their ghastly tales of birth with the expectant mother. Vulgar, horror movie-like descriptions would fill the room at once. Morning sickness, water retention, mood swings, weight gain, and society constantly commenting and poking at a “Buns in the Oven”-shirt-covered-belly did not sound alluring.
I still don’t have a thorough grasp of why some women yearn for the day when their wombs can be congested with irrelevant DNA codes, placenta, and ten extra fingers, but I do have a clear respect for mothers (not to mention fathers) and the work involved in creating and raising a child.
This anthology is devoted to different outlooks on the birth process. After brief researching (I’m a self-proclaimed procrastinator) I’ve compiled a collection of stories, poems, and other written works that express the feelings I’ve encountered on the subject. Sometimes when I’m down and out, the thought of producing young folk to cater to my every whim automatically brings a wide grin to my face. At other times, the concept makes me flinch.
Many of the works do not enthrall me. There are only so many ways one can relate the tale of birth without sounding repetitive, so I just chose the “better” of a bunch of stories that sounded the same. I did, however, come across a comical work every now and then. Those were much easier to bear and make the otherwise laborious read slightly more sufferable.
(Realizing, 13 years later, that I used the word “laborious” – tee hee.)
Andrew McKenna’s “Birthquake” and Gloria Lemay’s “Top Ten Reasons to Have a Home Birth” were the only pieces I felt compelled to include due to the authors’ approach on the subject. McKenna and Lemay have a lighthearted, humorous style that was necessary to bring “The Downfall of Humanity: Generation after Generation” to life, but my one and only mistress in this anthology comes out of a book titled Safe Counsel, by B.G. Jeffries and J.L. Nickels. It’s a publication from 1896 devoted to morals, etiquette, and other similarities that people nowadays lack. The absurdity of everything made Safe Counsel an absolute delight to scan through. The ideas presented in the text are gruesomely ancient; I could do nothing except laugh and dwell on the people who lived long ago. The excerpt is rather brief, but Jeffries and J.L. Nickels make every mother believe that”…a want of food always injures the child” (298) in the short paragraph.
For necessary reasons, I watched a few movies with the recurring theme of childbirth and pregnancy. They were all horrible to say the least, but I decided to write a summary on Father of the Bride II., which I had never seen before, and I rather not mention anything else on that subject.
Thinking about contractions and stitched labia, water breakage and afterbirth, umbilical cords and compressed bladders makes me wish that I could’ve found some more interesting things to examine and out in this anthology. While a doctor probes his instruments into the depths of a zygote’s home, a woman might want something to read. Perhaps “the Downfall of Humanity: Generation after Generation” would be recommended to her by someone, and it would be a fine work to indulge in because it would expose her unborn child to true stories, pleasant and not so pleasant poetry, as well as what movies to not watch.