For those of you who haven’t heard of it (i.e. you live in another country, you don’t watch television or you’re too high brow for this base form of entertainment) the Channel 4 “documentary” series – Ok, reality series – follows two women giving birth in every episode.
Some women are all about the drugs, others are really committed to natural birth. All go slightly mad at some point in the ordeal. With interviews before and after, the crew behind the series manage to mould stories that are strangely compelling in their simplicity.
So we watch…and we cry. The crying may just be me. I do a lot of that lately. Television commercials, parents with babies, the mention of the word “family” – hormones are a scary thing. And my family could tell you I was a cry-er before (in private, mostly) so now I’m am absolute blub-fest. Especially when I watch One Born Every Minute though I know it is manufactured reality rather than the real thing. I don’t mind. I love fiction.
Of course, it holds special interest for me since I’ve got the birth on the brain. Doesn’t it scare me? Not in the slightest, really. Childbirth hurts – who knew?
But I do find myself over-identifying at times. When that guy yelled at his partner this week, blaming her for saying from the outset that she didn’t want a C-section, I identified too deeply and wanted to take Laurence’s head off – even though he wasn’t around, would himself have been appalled and wouldn’t do the same (of course, I don’t know what he’ll be like but that kind of thing would be bizarrely out of character).
I made him suffer through the program with me once. I could see his stress levels rising with the opening scream. When the head popped out of the vagina in the intro, he literally jumped. Later on, when a woman gave birth to a purplish-grey child, his response was: “Blurrh! I’m glad you’ll be holding the baby first. I don’t want to touch that.”
But I’m sure he’ll rise to the occasion when it’s his own little creature, covered in guts and unmentionables.