When Childbirth Feels like Assault
Family Resemblance

This is why I gave birth at home in the 1980s. I had heard the horror stories of women while growing up, and then I read Our Bodies, Ourselves. In it, a woman described complications introduced by her doctor — for which he claimed heroic status in overcoming. I did not want to participate in such an event. I was absolutely determined to have give birth in a serene and comfortable environment with people who fully supported me. (Though, had there existed reason, I would have given birth in a hospital.) My birthings were phenomenal and satisfying.

When I was present for my sister’s birth, the doctor was an utter asshole. She was saying, “Oh, FUCK!” when he entered the room, to which he replied, “NO. That is what got you here in the first place.” Clever man. When he whipped out a ginormous hypodermic needle, I thought he might be thinking of an episiotomy. I said to my sister, “I think the doctor wants to give you an episiotomy!” I felt she should know before getting jabbed. The doctor swirled around on his wheeled stool to look at me and said, “Yes, I am going to give her an episiotomy. Women who don’t get them come back to me in their 40s with incontinence and inability to control their bowels.” He turned around and viciously started jabbing her with the hypodermic needle, venting his anger with each pounce, as my sister screamed. Without waiting for any numbing, he got his scissors and assaultingly snipped very loudly 9 or 10 times. I was mortified. Then, my niece’s very pointed head was born. I KNEW she could have made it out without an episiotomy. I was disgusted. I spent several hours crying by myself. It was that traumatic for ME.

Birthing can be difficult enough without dealing with bullies and assholes.

My daughter gave birth to a 10 lb. 1 oz. baby nearly two years ago. No doubt, had she not had a superior doctor and attending staff she would have been forced into a caesarean. It was only by luck that her own doctor could not attend — a doctor who insisted on inducing labor because, “I have delivered pre-term, post-term, and dead babies.” I was in the examining room when those words came out of her mouth. I wanted to slap her.

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