Monday, November 14, 2011

The Art of Childbirth

Childbirth and I don't exactly have a warm and fuzzy relationship.  We kind of started off on the wrong foot when, after 12 hours on the highest dose of pitocin without significant progress, my doctor was like, "You have one hour to dilate 7 more centimeters or you'll have to have a c-section" and my uterus was like, "Bite me."  I tried -- really I did -- but one can't exactly will her uterus to do anything it doesn't want to do.  So I ended up sliced and diced, which was a highly unpleasant experience for all concerned, especially my uterus.

The second time around was better in theory, but my doctor was a jerk whose concern for me was limited to whether or not I was still breathing.  He didn't even say "Congratulations!" after yanking two healthy little humans out of my body.  With that and the whole catheters here, bodily fluids there thing, I don't exactly think of childbirth as being beautiful or miraculous as much as I think of it as being horrible.  Forgive me, but nothing could possibly be more undignified or disgusting.  I know you might disagree, but as anyone who has attended a birth knows, those biohazard bins aren't just for decoration.  Just sayin'.

So you'll understand where I'm coming from when I say that childbirth should not be a spectactor sport.  As far as I'm concerned, there are already way too many spectactors involved, particularly those of the I'm-here-to-stick-my-fingers-in-your-nether-regions variety.  (And for the life of me I cannot understand why anyone would want to invite their father-in-law or their next-door-neighbor to witness an event where private parts are on full display and poop is likely to end up on the table).

But, putting aside one's dignity, I can see how someone might want to share their birthing experience with a close friend or family member, especially when you factor in the whole miracle thing.  I just don't see why anyone would want to share the ordeal with a group of strangers, particularly when one is only doing so because she considers it "art".  But, one New York City artist, whose previous exhibitions have included re-enactments of her own birth and losing her virginity, recently did just that -- take her "performance art" to the next level by giving birth in front of a whole bunch of strangers.  According to her, giving birth is the "highest form of art".  I guess that makes her the "highest" form of artist... if by "high" you mean "on crack".

Okay, okay.  I've already said that however messy and gruesome birth is, it is also a miracle.  And it is quite overwhelming and wonderful to see a brand new infant make his way into the world (not that I would know - stupid surgical draping...).  But, as is the case with many miracles, oversharing the experience, especially indiscriminately, has a tendency to cheapen it, to take away the sacredness.  So it follows that if one's goal is to share the miracle of birth, it hardly seems logical to splay oneself out as "performance art" before a group of irreverent strangers who have no vested interest in the event itself.

Is giving birth miraculous?  Yes.  Is it worth doing?  Absolutely.  But is it art?  No.  Heavens, no. 

Do I need go over the part about those biohazard bins again?