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August 23, 2005

The Times Tells All

As for all this talk over guys getting freaked out by the delivery room view of their partner's suddenly giant, bloody vagina, I don't quite see the problem. If you're the sort of guy who thinks this'll haunt you forevermore, either stick near your wife's head so you can be with her without peering up her or stay out of the delivery room. I have to imagine that guys basically know where they'll fall on this question. Sure, some may make the wrong choice, but a bit of forethought should keep post-delivery sexual traumas from being so endemic they demand coverage in The New York Times. Or maybe we're not having a rash of shellshocked hubbies and the article is a bullshit human interest story exploiting the fears of both sexes to fill a few column inches.

August 23, 2005 in Life | Permalink

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Or maybe we're not having a rash of shellshocked hubbies and the article is a bullshit human interest story exploiting the fears of both sexes to fill a few column inches.

Say it ain't so!

Posted by: Brad Plumer | Aug 23, 2005 1:10:30 PM

Most guys I know don't have that fear. I had no wories about my wife's vagina, but did worry about the blood. I am a wimp about that. My wife, however, was freaked out about it and banned all talk of photography of the birth from any direction but her head. :-)

However, during the birth -- and especially at the final minutes -- you are so wired to see your new kid that none of that matters at all. It's just not that important once you get to see the new person.

Pics of my new person (14 months old already!) at http://www.flickr.com/photos/coxwellrudy !

Posted by: Nathan Rudy | Aug 23, 2005 1:34:07 PM

I can't watch a whole episode of CSI without having to cover my eyes - and it's not because of the bad dialogue. I have problems with blood, with needles, with the whole deal.

But when my wife needed to lean against me for the epidural, I did it. When it became necessary for the docs to do an emergency C-section and I accidentally saw the doc holding my wife's uterus in midair to clean it, I handled it. Because I had to. It was important to my wife for me to be there, and so I did whatever it took to be there, to be a support, to do whatever I could, because she was the one who had carried our daughter for 9 months, had taken great care of herself and our baby, and was going through nothing short of hell to bring her into the world.

These guys that are so traumatized are the very definition of "sissy." The problem is not what they saw in the delivery room; it's that they are selfish and immature and apparently have a diminished capacity for true love. They are jerks looking for an excuse for their wandering eyes, and journamalism like this only helps them be that way.

Posted by: Stephen | Aug 23, 2005 1:46:20 PM

I think watching your wife give birth could change the way you view her forever. One can only hope its in a positive way as it was for Stephen. Maybe for some men it could be a negative experience. Men's views on vaginas, women in general, uteri etc. can be complicated and driven by experiences and forces that they do not always conciously control. Whether that makes them sissys or that they lack Stephen's capacity for mature true love, I will leave for others to determine. If a man fears that watching his wife give birth will freak him out, then he should broach the subject in a reasonable way before hand and hopefully the couple can make a sensible decision how to procede. Its hard to see how a man's neuroses will over balance a woman's need to have her husband present, but thats for them to work out between themselves.

Posted by: Neil Paul | Aug 23, 2005 1:58:46 PM

Surely you aren't suggesting that human interest stories in the Times lack the serious scholarship required to be published in the newspapaer of record? For shame.

Posted by: Matt F | Aug 23, 2005 2:03:58 PM

Having been there for the birth of both of my sons, I have to say that it is the weirdest thing I've ever seen. But that being said, it in no way put off vaginas. I'm just pleased she hasn't blamed me for the whole thing and cut me off entirely.

In a more serious vein, the hardest part, for me, of being in the delivery room was that my wife was in _serious_ pain and I couldn't do a damn thing about it. Oh, and birthing class was mostly a waste of time. At best it gives you an idea of the sequence of events in the ideal case. But the breathing exercises were lame during the class and beyond useless for the big event.

Posted by: Hank | Aug 23, 2005 2:17:48 PM

Just to be clear, I have no problem with guys who freak out in the delivery room, or who can't even go in there because of problems that they might have with blood, pain, needles, etc. And it's not that I'm so great. But I did step up, I did try to handle things the best I could for the sake of my wife and my daughter.

My problem lies with those "men" who think they are somehow justified in denigrating their wives' sexuality because they were grossed out in the delivery room. By looking at the number of households with multiple children I think we can conclude that having sex after having children is not that big of a deal, unless, as in this case, the guy involved has issues to deal with.

Posted by: Stephen | Aug 23, 2005 2:53:29 PM

I can assure you that a decrease in my sex life after the birth of my child has not been a matter of choice on my part.

Posted by: Chris R | Aug 23, 2005 2:54:04 PM

Childbirth is gory, make no mistake. As such, I will be refraining. Any man who wants to refrain from seeing the gore should make the same choice as me and refrain from making those babies. If he's too delicate to see it, then he should feel is wife is too delicate to do it.

Posted by: Amanda Marcotte | Aug 23, 2005 9:55:21 PM

Speaking only for myself, watching my kids being born
was a very worthwhile experience, and obviously easier
than doing the birthing itself, but was hardly erotic. It's
not like it normally looks like that after all, so it's pretty
easy to keep the birthing vagina and the sexual vagina
separate in my mind.

Posted by: Matt Newman | Aug 24, 2005 12:59:51 AM

Unless you've been there to share the moment birth will never be as real and immediate as it should be. And having someone there may be a pain to medical staff but they don't always pick up on everything that's going on. Having a sounding board around isn't the worst thing you can be for your wife during a painful and wearing experience ; some comfort in scary times.

Posted by: opit | Aug 24, 2005 2:37:57 AM

Men can be fairly criticized for not showing up and gutting it out in the delivery room, if that is what is agreed to. It is much more pointless to criticize men for failing to achieve an erection thereafter due to the trauma of the experience. Its just not an area where criticism and exhorting to try harder generally works, at least as far as I have heard.

Telling people that they have to be turned on by a total relationship and seperate things out in their minds to be erotic in the socially prescribed way is just not realistic.

If a woman decides that she wants kids and she wants a sexually functioning husband and her othewise supportive husband will lose it if he witnesses childbirth, then she could reasonably choose to forego the emotional support and shared experience of those 4-30 hours of labor spent with her husband in exchange for a more functional sex life thereafter. Many fathers have done a good job of supporting their wife and kids and loving them without being in the delivery room. The decision is personal and there is no "should" about it.

I am not saying men should just shirk off this responsibility lightly, but for some maybe it makes sense to wait in the hall. THey would still have the whole rest of their lives to spend caring for their family.

Posted by: Neil Paul | Aug 24, 2005 9:26:24 AM

I'm as squeamish as they come. Have you heard the joke, "What's the definition of a lawyer? A smart Jewish boy who's afraid of the sight of blood." That's me. But when the baby came a little faster than expected, i.e., before the taxi arrived, I pulled it together and delivered him on the floor of our apartment, in the middle of a pool of blood and amniotic fluid. To this day I count that as the crowning achievement of my life. So, go for it, guys!

Posted by: A country lawyer | Aug 25, 2005 1:33:01 PM

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