- plastic toys, brightly coloured ones in particular
- voting Liberal
- tv in bed
- going to church (at the first sign of teenage experimentation in this direction I will say "here is $500, have a party with your friends instead.")
- joining any sport which doesn't allow girls to play in the same contests as boys
- especially, going anywhere near the local football club
NOT FORBIDDEN, BUT NOT ENCOURAGED EITHER
- eating meat
- drinking Coke
- getting a dog
- working at McDonald's
- finding anything remotely amusing about Charlie Sheen
- doing after-school activities (music lessons etc) which require me to drive him to the place of the activities or do anything else organisational
- table manners, including the ability to recognise implements of cutlery and use them for the purposes for which they are designed
- not writing or saying singular 'they' indiscriminately
I am quite confident he will master all of these within a few days of being born: on Monday we had lunch in Daylesford and the lady who brought our food said the baby will be a Taurean Rabbit, which I knew already but hadn't considered the implications of, and will therefore be very creative and intensely good-looking, which as you may guess I was pleased to hear, since I've been trying to imagine what he'll look like and I never get any further than picturing a sort of Photoshop Disaster mashup of Dorian and myself. This despite having 'seen' him very regularly via ultrasound - I have now had seven of these, I think - at the most recent one yesterday there wasn't a lot to see because he's all curled up in a ball now, but he doesn't appear to be so monstrously huge any more. The ultrasonographer said he's in the 65th centile round the gut now, which sounds a lot better than 95th last time, and gives me a bit of hope that I will be able to avoid a Caesarian, which would be nice as getting better from a big cut in the belly is no picnic. I know the measurements and estimates arrived at by the scans are unreliable as predictors but if this is the info my obstetrician will be working from then she might be happier about letting me try to push him out. I'll find out what she thinks on Friday.
I have thought so very much about what sort of birth might happen, and about how I'll feel about what does happen. It is a fraught subject. I think women are encouraged to set very difficult goals for themselves, in terms of planning what sort of birth they'll have, and when things don't go to plan it seems to make recovery a great deal harder psychologically. On the huge pregnancy and baby forums there are sub-forums devoted to debriefing from disappointing birth experiences.
I am sad to say I think this over-planning is mostly instigated by people with the very best intentions aimed at returning some agency to women who are routinely divested of their autonomy by the medical system. Clearly there is a lot of evidence that a great many more women could very well be allowed to get on with it than are currently doing so. The hospital I am going into has a 40% Caesarian birth rate - a product of obstetrician-led care, plus the demographic of the mothers, their more advanced age and generally higher than average incidence of high-risk pregnancies - but even allowing for that this rate is much higher than it needs to be.
In my own case the decision to be looked after by an obstetrician privately rather than a team of midwives in the public system (where there are not so many interventions) has turned out to be absolutely the best one - my diabetes has been looked after so effectively because this one doctor has overseen my care all along, personalised it, and hasn't hesitated to move fast to fix problems as soon as they begin to appear. I like her, I feel very confident in her judgement and her experience, and this is why I grow impatient with sweeping dismissals of obstetrician-led pregnancy care on the grounds that it's taking too much control away from the mother. I know that it's also possible to assert or exert your authority over yourself by putting yourself completely into the hands of another. I haven't abdicated anything by deciding to do what my doctor recommends and not to make a birth plan. On the contrary I've decided to be consciously trusting in her ability to do what's best, and no less, to trust my ability to rise to the occasion, whatever it shall turn out to be.
The push to have mothers take control over birth within a context of increasing intervention doesn't seem good to me partly because alarm bells go off when I hear of women feeling emotionally devastated because they feel they've 'failed' at giving birth 'naturally', but also because it appears to be resulting in some extremely grotesque innovations which seem designed to get the mother playing an assertive role in proceedings at all costs. There is a procedure called a maternal-assisted Caesarean, available at at least one Australian hospital (PDF), where the cut in the abdomen is made by the delivering surgeon, and then the mother lifts the baby out herself. Does this sound like something you'd want to do? I don't find the prospect of putting my hands into my own belly all that enticing, in fact, it sounds like a nightmare scenario, and not a context in which I'd like to meet my child. But then, I will not be 'mourning the loss of being able to have a vaginal birth', and I think it's worrying that women for whom vaginal birth is dangerous or impossible are coming to feel that a c-section is anything but a blessed alternative we're extremely lucky to have.
Anyway, I said I would put a picture of the curtains I made so here it is, a bit dark sorry.