By Ann Brown
I’ve been thinking about Mary, as I am wont to do on Christmas Eve.
Mother Mary and I are of the same generation in that we had our babies between 1 BC and 1982, before epidurals were invented. Or maybe they were invented but I guess Mary and I both had Kaiser insurance and they weren’t springing for it. Mothers of our generation – Mary’s and mine – we had our babies the real way, like real men. Only the actual real men were by our sides, telling us to breathe, telling us they loved us, offering us ice chips and complaining to the nurses that TV in the labor room didn’t get cable and it was possible that today’s game would decide the Super Bowl. Also, real men didn’t want to make a whole deal out of it, but, could they mention that yes, we might be in a bit of discomfort squeezing a baby through us and they totally get that, but they were quite hungry, only having eaten a chicken burrito when they drove us through El Pollo Loco on the way to the hospital that night.
Around this time of the night, so many years ago, Mary was in hard labor. HARD labor – when everyone loses patience with you because you clearly are not buying their horseshit not to think of contractions as pain. Mary probably didn’t use naughty language but I bet she was thinking, oh sweet Jesus, fuck this excruciating pain. Hey, maybe that’s how she came up with the name.
Hah. That means my kids should have been named Give me drugs and Get away from me.
I was not a fan of having my husband in on the labor. Poor Robin. He wanted so badly to help. He even prepared for my labor by having casual hippie VW van sex with a bunch of midwives in Santa Cruz and Humboldt back in the 70’s. Just so he could know what he was doing ten years later when his own child was being born. What a guy. These days, frankly, I kinda wish he had been having sex with endodontists and orthopedic surgeons back then. I could really use that kind of expertise now.
Still, say what you will, at least Robin had on his birth coach resume that he is a human. Who was there for Mother Mary? A donkey? Like she was gonna believe anything a donkey would tell her about labor. Endodontics, maybe. I mean, donkeys seem to keep all their teeth and I never saw one cringing in pain when it bit down on a piece of roasted butternut squash hot from the oven.
And frankly, constant braying would have been preferable to constant soothing voices telling me to breathe. BREATHE? Really? That’s the best they can come up with? Don’t die?
Poor Mary. And all that damp hay smell to boot, just when any kind of smell at all makes you want to barf. And the three male interns, all fucked up from smoking frankincense on their journey, poking around all Mary’s wrong places, trying to measure her cervix and cracking each other up by saying the word “fundus” over and over again.
Wise Men, my ass. Someone had a good publicist. It was surely their first labor. Probably the first time they ever even saw a lady’s bare legs, much less her cervix. Let’s be honest about who, exactly, the virgins were in that manger.
Mary, I feel your pain, sister. Plus we both know what it’s like to raise a Jewish son. The pressure.
Speaking of which, mazel tov on your son’s accomplishments. Walking on water is great.
My two sons went to Reed and Georgetown, however. Just saying.
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