Labor-Day party

| | Comments (5)

NY Times: Move Over, Doc, the Guests Can't See the Baby.

Jessica Anderson still has months to go, but her family and friends are already hinting about invitations. Stephanie Bullock, due in November, thought she had decided on her mother, grandmother, the baby's father and two friends from work. But now her children are clamoring to join in, and she worries about slighting her boss. And with mere days left in her pregnancy, Tiffany Pena was still torn. "I didn't have my mom there when I was conceiving, so why should I have her when I'm delivering?" she asked.

Just a generation after fathers had to beg or even sue for the right to be present, the door to the delivery room has swung wide open. Even the most traditional hospitals now allow multiple guests during labor, transforming birth from a private affair into one that requires a guest list. Like bridesmaids and pallbearers, the invitees are marked as an honored group of intimates. But few weddings or funerals involve nudity, blood or heavy anesthetics.

Sick, sick and sick. I guess I'm just old-fashioned, but anything beyond a hubby (or boyfriend, or baby-daddy or whatever - I'm liberal like that), a doctor or a midwife, maybe a dula and the mother's own mother (or other suitable, close FEMALE relative or friend) is just twisted. And this also goes for the army of nurses and observers that magically appeared when my wife was pushing with Matthew. If you have no direct role in helping this woman get this baby out, you are welcome to wait outside.

My problem with all of this, is the seemingly lack of respect for the intimacy and privacy of our bodies. Tiffany Pena above has it dead on right, and I hope she stuck with her gut instinct.

Back to the article:

"I've always been really close to my dad, but I don't think he'd seen me without my clothes on since I was 13," said Kate Bickert,

And he has no reason to. Sounds like a reasonable woman, right? Wrong:

who nonetheless asked her father and six others to her first delivery.

Oh my gosh. If Baby-Lu #2 is a little Maria, I hope she has more sense than this.

Then there's this terrifying phenomenon - the drop-in:

And laboring women are no longer protected from messy social tensions during their most vulnerable hour. Liberal visitation policies have given rise to a new and supremely irritating variety of guest: the labor crashers. Sometimes, "a sister starts giving the O.K. for who can come into the room, and there's no preset list for who can be there," Ms. Golden said.

Here's our preset list:

Got it?

Ms. Bullock, whose children want to attend her next delivery, had an unpleasant surprise at her last birth, at Gritman Medical Center in Moscow, Idaho. A less-than-favorite male cousin appeared; the next thing she knew, a nurse was yanking her gown up to neck level, right in front of his eyes. Staff members at Bellevue Hospital Center in New York recently watched agape as two men argued in a delivery room, each asserting paternity of the child about to appear.

Look people, I know our culture cultivates narcissism (pair this naricissism with our "gawker" mentality and there's the explanation for this whole phenomenon, btw), so it may come as a shock that you - your wonderful, fun-loving, all-around great person, life-of-the-party self, yes, YOU - are not wanted in a particular place, but that is in fact the truth. If the mother does not call and invite you to come witness the birth, consider yourself spurned. Get over it. Call me and I'll buy you a beer, just stay the hell away from the hospital.

And to any of family and/or friends who think I may want to witness your moment: please spare the invite. I'll wait a few hours or - gasp! - even a few days before meeting your little one.

Comment away, but I am absolutely unpersuadable.

Hat-tip to the Family Scholars Blog (an excellent, blog, btw).

Bookmark and Share


I have to agree with you. There may be a medical reason to have more nurses, etc come in at the moment of delivery (baby may have been in distress, mother may be in distress, a medical emergency for one or both may be suspected...) But as to having others in the room when delivery is taking place... Doctor, nurse, father and mother's mother is sufficient. (and father's mother may think she should be there...but that is the limit, IMHO.)

As one who worked OB/GYN/NURSERY for many years, ranging from NO one but Mom and doctor, nurse in the room, to seeing Dads allowed (thought that was terrific!) including NO one in the room when baby was there but Mom and Dad/nurse or doctor and all but Mom and baby in gowns and the 'freedom of today'...when anyone (up to limit of four at one time, over age 16 can go into the nurswery and ANYONE can be in the delivery room... where no one wears gowns, including the visitors to the nursery... I prefer the past.

Sorry for the long strung out sentence above. I think we have gone too far. But I will go even further and say that though today it is 'acceptable' for unmarrieds to have and raise kids... if I don't want to marry him, or he does not want to marry me...then he should not be there, either. Some day, a marriage WILL happen. And there will be nothing intimate left to share with that husband that no one else has ever shared before. Sad, IMHO.

One thing to add: we thought it was great for Alexander to be there for his brother's birth. We had been telling him for just under 9 months that he had a new brother or sister inside Mommy's tummy, and having him there to see the birth process I hope completed the whole thing in his mind. Or course, there were no pushy medical personel or anyone else that would have detracted from the peacefulness of the event, or given him a less-than-ideal view of the process, and he really didn't even care that much by the time Katie pushed Dominic out (But he did climb back into the pool once Dominic was out to look at him).

I would strongly assert, however, that if your gut reaction is to not invite someone, then you should not do it. This isn't a dinner party. That being said, there are some people who are comfortable with a large variety of people present during labor (I'm not sure about delivery, but there might be people comfortable with that too). And the large army of various strangers that appear out of nowhere in hospitals was a huge reason that we chose to forgo the hospital route. That and my continued assertion that the more the birth process appears to be a medical event, with the goal of "extracting" a "foreign object" from the mother's body, the more abortion appears to be a normal extension of sexuality.


Great comments.

Brandon, I was talking about this with Mama-Lu yesterday, and she gave me the thousand dollar word: intimacy.

This isn't just a "personal" moment, or a "special" moment. It's an intimate moment. The only people that should be there are those with whom the mother shares a special intimacy. This includes, first and foremost, the father. And, as in your case, it in a way does make sense to have other children there - who can argue about the intimacy of that relationship?

The word intimate really cuts to the heart of why the labor party phenomenon is so troublesome. Either we have lost sight of what intimacy (or an intimate moment) is, or we have too many relationships that are too intimate.

Call me and I'll buy you a beer, just stay the hell away from the hospital.

Chris, you make me laugh!

I think you are absolutely on the right track with the "intimacy" idea. People seem to have lost all sense of modesty and propriety of such things. I recently attended a baby shower where the baby had already been born, and all 40 guests were "treated" to a pass-around photo book of the birth-- horribly graphic stuff there. I joked (but I meant it!) "I don't even want to see my own births that closely..."

Well, you can tell how frequently I make the blog rolls (and I've even got them all tabbed in Firefox so I can open them all at once). But we were looking through the late Dr. Ratner's old files in the Stubenville library this summer and Katie came across an article that basically said that excluding dads from the delivery room was equivalent in some base psychology to their wifes having an affair, since childbirth is the end result of sex. (Obviously not always, but you can't have childbirth without sex, and before the separation of conception and sex that was brought on by artificial contraception, the ontological reality was better represented by reality). So that would back you up 100% with the intimacy concept. Sex begins the process, childbirth is the next step in the process, and childrearing is the conclusion of the process. Strangely enough, two parents are better than one in all three of these, although society has marginalised the father's role in each of them one by one.


Mama-Lu's Etsy Shop

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Papa-Lu published on September 11, 2005 3:31 PM.

A cartoon to think about was the previous entry in this blog.

Campus Newspeak is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.