During my wife’s recent pregnancy both my wife and I started to research and learn about the whole process and experience of pregnancy so we could be best prepared to support each other.
This included buying books and reading various websites and blogs to gather lots of information so we could work out what was relevant to us.
While searching for some new perspectives, my wife stumbled across a documentary called Birth Time. It is all about parents (more mothers, but fathers too) different experiences of the medial system across the world during the birthing process.
It turned out there was going to be a screening of the documentary in our local cinema which was literally five minutes away from our house. My wife wanted to go, and me being a supportive husband thought I would go along too.
Making an Entrance
We arrived at the cinema just as the “performance” was about to start. Quickly showing our tickets we found our way to the right auditorium. From outside it sounded like they were still showing the trailers, but for some reason they thought it would be appropriate to have trailers of horror films because all I could hear was screaming….
As we entered the auditorium and looked up, it was packed… full of young women (I supposed medical students). Surveying for two free seats the only thing that looked less plentiful than the available seats were male faces. This was not what I was expecting…
We spotted two seats and made our way up the stairs listening to a symphony of screaming in full cinema surround sound… we just about managed to see the way as the images on screen of a woman obviously in the process of giving birth were cutting in and out… dark… screaming face… dark… screaming face…
Just as we sat down the screen went dark for what seemed longer than before…. As the picture kicked back in, we were presented with an up-close shot of a woman’s vagina with a baby crowning (I had learnt the right words by then) … Zoom out a bit and it is a naked woman in a birthing pool… pushing and screaming, the baby was being birthed to the world… Then out slides the baby in to a pool of bloody water… mommy scoops it up crying with happiness and in an act of celebration blasts a tit in to its mouth… the picture fades out once again and then the title fades in on screen; Birth Time.
This was a shock to my senses!!!!
What that actual fuck have I signed up for??? This is going to make me feel worse about pregnancy, not better!!!
Now in the past I have been a big fan of watching ultra-violent horror films, gruesome stuff that would make a lot of people hide their face and turn away. I thought I could handle pretty much anything… the difference with this though is that it is real, and made even more real by the fact that my pregnant wife was sat next to me and I knew we would be going through a similar experience in the near future.
As the documentary started to unfold, I found myself feeling relieved when there was dialogue and discomfort to the point of physical unease arising as soon as screaming and wincing appeared on screen.
Being honest with myself, I realised that I caried with me in to the auditorium a preconceived idea that the film would be a feminist affair that was centred around highlighting the plight of women.
How wrong could I be!
The feeling of discomfort that I was experiencing was a new sensation to me. I had never been in a situation where I had to face in to the very thing that was making me want to look away. I could have chosen to get up and walk out, but I put my wife before me and stayed put.
Realising that I did not want to feel discomfort, I choose to observe it my mind unfolding. To mentally step back and observe the sense of discomfort arise in me and question where it was coming from.
To be honest, I don’t really know for sure. I think it could be as simple as wanting to block out any awareness of trials and tribulations of the birthing process so I could maintain some sort of rose-tinted spectacles. A vision of mediocrity.
Either way, the act of observation allowed me to disassociated from the discomfort and actually start to connect to the film.
What I then found was an enriching perspective that looked at both the feelings and experiences of mothers and fathers throughout the whole birthing process. I actually started to feel compassion for the people in the film and was quite emotionally moved by the end.
The film offered new insight in to the pit falls and challenges specifically around continuity of care and having respect for women’s choices throughout the process.
Going to see the film with my wife was the right choice for us.
Earlier I described having rose tinted spectacles of mediocrity. I chose the word mediocrity specifically.
Mediocre is neither good, nor bad, it is just meh.
To experience the true highs and full vibrancy of life, we must be willing to take on the risk of the lows and the extremes that will challenge us.
We can avoid the lows and the challenges, but doing so will also devoid us of any possibility of experiencing the highs. I was settling for mediocrity.
After opening my mind and my heart to allow me to fully experience this documentary, I felt better prepared to fully engage in supporting my wife though the whole birthing process. There is nothing that would make me want to turn away for I was ready to accept all of the sour that life had to throw at me because I wanted to taste the sweet.
I had zoomed out to see the whole rainbow, so now I could perceive life in full technicolour.
So next time you feel uncomfortable, maybe take a moment to observe your discomfort… if you are able to let it go, who knows what new parts of life might be discovered.
Enjoy, for now.