Baby Amnesia

By David Drury



Human beings forget what it’s like to have a baby.  This baby amnesia is absolutely crucial for the reproduction of the human race.  Here’s why: no one would ever have more than one baby if they remembered what it was like to have the last one.  We forget what it’s really like.  Which is good, because then the human race has more babies, and this is why we have spread across the globe as the most successful species on the planet.  Baby amnesia is the key to life as we know it.


However, this also means that we are intentionally putting ourselves through the torture and pain of having babies.  Of course, mostly women are going through childbirth.  (As a matter of principle I fact-checked that statement and discovered that in fact exclusively women are going through it.)  Let me describe for you what in fact happens to a woman when she becomes pregnant and “brings a life into this world.”


They get fat.  Let’s be honest.  We all tell pregnant women how good they look whatever trimester they are in.  But this is only in comparison to other pregnant women we’ve witnessed who look as though they have accidentally swallowed all of their bedding.  But the really amazing thing is that women usually make themselves this fat on purpose.  They are intentionally becoming fat in order to have this baby.  Some of them have dreamed all of their lives of having a baby which basically just makes them fat.  The irony is that women usually obsess all of their lives over not getting fat.  Many women would confess to you that during a meal they are only telling themselves one repeated phrase: “don’t get fat, don’t get fat, don’t get fat.”  So I can see why a woman might have a baby and get fat once.  But these competing desires don’t seem to be compatible over the long run.  Only women with complete baby amnesia from the last time they got that fat would ever choose to get that fat again.  Even more amazing, most women claim that they get fatter the more babies they have!


But it doesn’t end there.  Gaining weight is only part of the madness.  They also are in extreme pain.  Many women will literally throw up most every day when they wake up in the first few months of their pregnancy.  When I first heard this I couldn’t believe it.  But it’s true.  They call it “morning sickness.”  Now, only a woman with baby amnesia would have given something as violent as barfing before breakfast a name as mild as “morning sickness.”  It sounds like a light headache, not regurgitation.  But after the morning sickness comes the sharp pain in the leg.  Many women will have this “sciatica” problem that actually causes them to loose hours of sleep every night and sometimes to fall down because of the shooting pain into their spinal column.  Again, I remind you that a repeatedly pregnant woman is usually choosing to have this pain.  They are not sadists, they simply have baby amnesia.


However, as we veterans know by far the worst part of childbirth is the actually “birthing” part.  Most of my life I had a vague sense that babies “came out” but before I witnessed it I preferred to think of it as a somewhat mystical process, rather than to actually dwell on what really happens.  But when I saw what really happens I nearly gave myself “morning sickness.”  The baby squeezes out of a woman in a disturbing way.  It’s disturbing because of the stretching involved.  When the nurses and doctors say things like “you’re dilated to a 4” or “you need to be at a 10 before the baby can get all the way out.”  This all sounds nice and vaguely medical until you realize what a “10” actually means.  I can explain it to men and/or women who have baby amnesia like this:  Go right now and get an ordinary softball, which is around 10 centimeters in diameter.  Got one?  Okay, now hold the softball up to the side of your head by your ear.  Now that you’re in this position take a hammer and strike the softball repeatedly until it enters your ear canal.  You have just simulated the pain and stretching process of childbirth.  Okay, now no one would actually do that would they?  Of course not!  But women are having babies all the time.  And beyond that they are doing it again and again.  I know one woman who had 14 babies!  This alone proves the Baby Amnesia Hypothesis.  My own mother said that giving birth to me was “like pooping out an entire watermelon.”  Now, I have never done that, but it sounds quite painful.  And I remind you that I’m the oldest and my mother obviously forgot this fact in order to have another child after me.  Who would actually choose to poop out an entire watermelon?  Answer: a woman with baby amnesia.


There are two fascinating moments that happen during the birthing of a child.  The first is the “give me drugs” moment, the second is the “my beautiful baby moment” and they both are factors in baby amnesia.  Many women will tell their doctors, nurses and husbands that they don’t intend to have any drugs during the birth of their child.  “I’m going to try to do this one ‘natural’” they claim.  They say this even though they had all kinds of drugs for their previous childbirths.  Many women even get an epidural, where the entire body from the waist down is numbed to the pain.  This is a wonderful invention.  I fully support it.  Just watching a baby being born made me want to have an epidural myself.  But it amazes me that women still fool themselves into thinking that after having an epidural on the last baby they are somehow going to say, “I am woman, hear me roar” through the next birth.  Because at some point during the excruciating pain of unnatural severe contractions that woman will say to the nurse, “This is not natural, give me drugs, NOW!”  But after all the breathing and the pushing and the glooping out of the baby we have our second fascinating moment.  I’ve watched my wife in this moment three times now and each time her face goes through a radical transformation.  At one moment it is crimson red, her hair is matted to the sweat on her forehead, she is crunching up her nose, her eyelids are purple and her teeth are clinched like a Balrog Demon prepared to kill millions of harmlessly cute bunnies in one fire-breathing breath.  Then, the baby gloops out, the doctor clears its throat, the umbilical cord is cut and everything changes.  Her face has such profound relief and pleasure on it you’d think she was on a Caribbean cruise.  Her color returns, she smiles broadly as a tear of joy squirts out of the corner of her eye while a faint golden halo rises above her head and all the nurses in the hallway begin singing the Alleluia chorus as she reaches out to hold the baby and rub its mucus-covered head onto her shoulder.  In one instant that woman forgets the watermelon entirely.


And don’t even get me started on what an episiotomy is.  I think I’d choose to have baby amnesia too. 


© 2005 by David Drury

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