A few nights ago, I finished all school-related work in time to join my fellow lunatics in watching tV. They were watching a TLC program known as
"Nineteen and Counting." This show, which I haven't seen a great deal of because if I watched it, my Roman Catholic yet pro-population control parents would have gone into full-blown grand mal seizures. (I'm not trying to poke fun at individuals who suffer from seizure disorders, but if either of my parents caught more than three minutes of the program, they'd likely be spasming uncontrollably and foaming at the mouth (which reminds me of a great practical joke my brother pulled that I must share soon now that we've acheived "graduate" status and are essentially untouchable by the school).
"Nineteen and Counting" was formerly named both "Eighteen and Counting" and "Seventeen and Counting," I'm fairly certain. As far as "Sixteen and Counting" and below, I have no idea as I haven't been paying attention to the series for that long. It features a family, the Duggars, with --predictably-- nineteen children. Michelle Duggar, the mother of the clan, proudly proclaims in the intro to each episode that SHE delivered each of her children. She must believe that the viewing public would think less of her if she (GASP!) adopted a few of the nineteen offspring. I for one wouldn't judge her for taking in a few children in need of a good home as opposed to her and her husband breeding like head lice, but that's just my opinion, and others are certainly entitled to disagree.
The oldest Duggar, whose name I can never recall but but I know begins with the letter J (Jason? Joshu? Judas? it's something like that) has married and started his own family. He and his wife Anna have one little girl who is under two. Anna gave birth to her second child on the episode I watched.
The Duggar family adheres to the teachings of some sort of religious sect known as the "Gothardite" movement. All I really know about the Gothardites is what I've learned from watching the Duggars on their show, so I'm not entirely sure which rules by which the Duggars live are "Gothardite" in origin and which are uniquely Duggar. The females dress in very modest clothing. It's not "Little House on the Prairie"-style clothing, as worn by Warren Jeffs' polygamous women and women of othe religious groups; what the Duggar girls wear looks like regular clothing that just covers more of their bodies. I don't know where they find the clothing; I suspect they make it themselves. The men just look homespun, kind of like out of "The Waltons." The women wear long hair, but I suspect they're not forbidden from trimming it ever, because Michelle has some type of wings or feathered bangs on the sides of her head.
Early in the episode, the younger Duggar couple went to a childborth preparaation course refresher. They weren't required to attend the multi-week sessions of the course because they had fairly recently had a child. When couples around here attend childbirth preparation courses, they're usually Lamaze courses. The Duggars attend a Bradley Method course. I don't know if the Buggars' religious or family rules find Lamaze teachings abhorrent, or if the Bradley method, which I'd never hear of before watching the episode, is simply more popular in their area, or perhaps a bit cheaper (or perhaps even a rip off of Lamaze methods; it wouldn't be the first time some enterprising individual capitalized on the ideas and work of others). The session they attended dealt with exercise to do to prepare the body for labor and delivery and to be used in labor and delivery. I noted with ambivalence that Anna Duggar wore leggings under her dress: on one hand, I was glad that she wouldn't be flashing her underwear to the viewing public, but, on the other hand, I hated to see her go directly to Hell without passing Go and collecting two hundred dollars simply becaause she wore pants. Que sera, sera.
Weeks before the estimated day of confinement (referred commonly today as one's "due date," but in medical texts is still, I believe. the EDC), the younger Duggar couple was still debating the merits of a home birth versus a hospital birth. Mr. J. duggar was clearly in favor of a home birth, as it had worked out for them with their first child. Anna, on the other hand , was wavering a bit. If I were in her situation, this would be one area in which my husband had no vote, or certainly would not be permitted to cast the deciding ballot. I suppose if a husband wanted a hospital birth for safety reasons and felt he wouldn't be up to delivering the child with only amateur assistance, his vote would be more decisive. In terms of wanting her to go thrugh all the rigors of labor without the benefit or convenience of modern medicine, his vote would count for less than zero. One can argue that babies have been born for centuries without medical intervention, but a much larger percentage of the babies AND mothers from those days never made it out of the birthing room alive. The only way I would give birth outside of a hospital setting would be if labor was so quick that I didn't make it in time. My mom's best friend's sister-in-law was born on a hospital lawn for that reason. I, however, could never be so fortunate as to have labor proceed so quickly.
Eventually labor began. Those attending Anna throughout her labor were her Bradley Mothod instructor (I may be wrong about this; the woman might have been a doctor), Michelle, one of Anna's sister's I think, and a couple of the Duggar sisters (Jill, Janna, Jinger, or someone else; I cannot keep them straight), and Mr. J. Duggar, the father. Anna had wanted a birthing tub, though whether her intent was to give birth in it or to wallow her way through contractions in the water like a manatee, I don't know. The "birthing tub" was actually a blue plastic kiddie wading pool. I hope it had no leaks, as it was set up on carpet either in the bedroom or the living room - I could not tell for sure which. Michelle was shown dumping kettles of hot and cold water into it to achieve a suitable temperture.
Anna wandered from her bed to the birthing tub to the sofa, which someone had thoroughly covered so that no "baby juices" would stain it, to her bed, to her bathroom, and so forth. She was screaming as quietly as she could manage to keep her voice while moaning, "Please, Jesus, please." I know for certain that were I in her place, a few additional words would have been spoken. I would've been moaning, "Please, Jesus, get me some Demerol," or "Please, Jesus, I need an epidural RIGHT NOW. You turned water into wine, you walked on water, your father parted the Red Sea and took Jonah out of the belly of either a whale or a very large fish; surely between the two of you, you could come up with one measly epidural." That's not the Duggars' way of doing things, apparently. As Anna was screaming and moaning and generally looking as though death was imminent and certain, her mother-in-law wa mugging it for the camera and telling the world at large, "Anna is doing SO GREAT." I say this with no intended disrespect toward Anna, but if she was doing great, I would hate to ever see a woman in labor who was not doing great.
The others were assuring me that what we were seeing was pre-recorded and not live, and that the situation had already resolved itself one way or another, because I was threatening to pick up the phone, dial 911, and send the paramedics to Anna's home in Arkansas to save the poor woman.
Eventually the father became tired and went to lie down and sleep on his bed. I suppose that's one advantage to a home birth; when the father gets tired, he can have the comfort of his own bed while his laboring wife carries on with the work at hand. (If my husband did this, there would be hell to pay once I was in any position to demand payment.) After he had been asleep almost an hour, his younger sister came and dragged him out of bed so that he would be there to see the baby's head emerge. By this time, poor Anna was lying in what I believe was the bathtub, which had been cushioned with blankets and pillows. The baby was pulled from the birth canal and handed to her. Forgive my cynicism, but poor Anna looked at that baby as though she wouldn't have cared if it had been a raccoon as long as they got the damned thing out.
After I am married and am contemplating motherhood, I will visit an OBGYN. I will, upon examination, ask him if there is an anatomical reason that I can or should deliver by Caesarean section. If he or she says no, I'll get a second opinion. That one failing, I'll get a third opinion. If the third doctor doesn't agree to an automatic C-section for me, my fallopian tubes will soon be cauterized to within an inch of their lives. My husband will be offered the choice of adopting a child or children, getting a dog or two or three or maybe a cat, or even raising silkworns. No baby will be dragged out of me in such a fashion.