Incision through abdominal muscles
Loss of heartbeat
Elevated blood pressure, risk of stroke
Torn urinary bladder
Cut or torn flesh (your choice) between genitals and rectum
Rearrangement of abdominal organs
Creation of sufferers of diseases, mental illness, and pain
Shitting the bed
What is all this shit? The list of tortures shown in a horror film about Nazis? The aftermath of a hurricane? The do-do list of a mad scientist who’s broken into a girls’ school? The last one is pretty close…
These are the horror stories I got to hear from my perfectly healthy — or so they told me — female cousins all last weekend about something they did to themselves on purpose. Some of them TWO OR THREE TIMES.
I am talking, of course, about the beautiful, natural process of childbirth. (Let’s keep in mind the fact that heart attacks, cancer, earthquakes, and the fundamentally frail and destructible nature of the human form are all natural.)
I went to teh olde summer famblee reunion against my better judgment, you sam, and my cousins and I seem to be around the age when every female’s biological clock except mine is said to be yelling at them. Although I’m not so sure it’s a biological clock that’s yelling at people… maybe it’s more like a potential gramma.
Or first sure glimpses of personal mortality.
I know some people will let physicians do gross and painful non-birth stuff like liposuction to them out of (I guess?) vanity or a feeling of professional obligation… but I suspect a lot of cosmetic procedures come about because the sag of your once-glorious ass is a painful visual reminder that you’re going to decay entirely one day. But, gross as it is, plastic surgery isn’t the least rational way to deal with the fear of death: at least a nose job won’t tear your bladder or make you shit the bed in front of a room full of people. Sure, people die from liposuction, but at least the survivors don’t get post-partum depression.
There are all kinds of reasons, I suppose, for having a baby — tax breaks, boredom, the nagging insistence of people who believe the childfree to be selfish (click on Jim Crawford’s antinatalist blog on my blogroll over there at the side, where he and other contributors repeatedly spare me the trouble of refudiating* that bass-ackwards notion), masochism, etc… but I think the really big one is that old fear of mortality.
“You mean I’m going to end someday? No more me? I just… go away? And the universe goes on without me? I never get to see what happens? I’m not part of the future? Oh god… wait, you’re dead… oh, DNA, make a mini-me, please, I don’t want to die! Don’t let me go away, I’ll miss me!”
I don’t know about you, but I’ve had those panic attacks myself, and they’re really the only reason I would ever let a kicking, grabbing, growing animal hang out right under my goddamned liver and feed off my bloodstream for nine months. Did I mention the fact that even once those nine months are over, it takes another year for your digestive organs to move back to where they’re supposed to live? And yet women who have already gone through this once will come back for another round, just in case mini-me #1 dies early or goes sterile!
It kind of makes your mind spin — the madness of risking an early death, while assuring yourself of pain, discomfort, and invasive changes to your very flesh… just to half-assure yourself of a kiiiiiiiiiiinda immortality, of which you will have no personal direct consciousness.
That, kids, is how powerfully we fear our own extinction. But what are you doing, ladies, when you go through this pain to assuage your fear? You run a 51% risk of creating a daughter — a creature who’s just as badly fucked by Mother Nature as you are. Sure, men are mortal as well, but at least they don’t have to risk large chunks of their lives in order to earn a false sense of connection to the living future. It’s just one more evil joke on the part of Mother Nature, that these infinitesimally luckier creatures are slightly less likely to be the fruit of your misery. The lesser of two evils is to bear the full brunt of your fear of death yourself. Have a heart. Don’t make another woman who has to choose between the chance of an emergency c-section and a more direct look at the abyss.
*The ever-frightening Sarah Palin, channeling Shakespeare, as she claimed, recently invented this word; if there were cosmic justice, it would insist that if you ever cast a vote for her you will happen to be standing under one of the nuclear warheads she would accidentally launch whilst trying to ring for coffee her first day in the Oval Office.