JulieLeung.com: a life told in tidepools

pictures and stories from the water’s edge

JulieLeung.com: a life told in tidepools header image 2

Maybe men should birth babies

May 14th, 2004 · 1 Comment

I mean it in a good way.

Let me explain…

Earlier this week, Dean Esmay and I had a little comment dialogue on this post I wrote about the brain, pain and childbirth. In two separate comments Dean mentioned that other experiences can be more painful than childbirth, and that men are often belittled when labor is discussed:

I’ve spoken to women who’ve had experiences they’ve said were as painful or more painful than giving birth. Heart attacks, torn ligaments, stuff like that. My ex-wife once had gas pains so severe she had to be taken to an emergency room, and she said it was as bad or worse than giving birth (and don’t laugh, some forms of gas pain are so acute they can be as bad as a heart attack or similar things).

I am merely pointing out that socially/societally, particularly since the 1980s I think, it has become very in vogue and trendy, and the source of endless comedy skits, to emphasize how horribly and unimaginably painful childbirth is. It’s usually done as a way to belittle and demean men, in the “you can’t possibly understand how horrible it is” vein, but one of the upshots of that is that young women who’ve never gone through it also get the crap scared out of them. Or so I’ve observed.

Today Doc Searls stopped by Ted’s post describing his dental visit and left this comment

Other kids with more modern dentists got Novacain. Not me. MY dentist was old school. I just got the drill. A lot. I remember when the dentist got a high speed drill to supplant the one with pulleys. It had a water spray to cool things down a bit, but it still hurt like hell.


In the ’80s I had a turbanate removed, sans pain killer. Too close to the brain, the doctor said. Then he put this sponge thing in my nose that expands as it soaks in blood. It too is removed later, without pain killers. When he pulled this thing out of my head, he remarked, “Did you ever have dentistry without Novacain?” I said that was all I had when I was a kid.

“I see that in a lot of old-timers,” he said. “I can tell. They have a very high threshold of response to pain.”

Doc takes the cake. I’m happy to have babies au natural. But don’t let me get the dentist’s drill and WITHOUT Novocain! The other day I told Ted that the thought of the drill freaks me out. I have not had any fillings except for a couple “preventative” ones, shallow and small on my back molars. But I felt the drill/carving tools and the memory of it makes me quiver. Ick! Wow, to undergo turbinate removal (here’s a picture!) without anesthetic…I’m in awe.

No, I don’t belittle men or try to tell them that “it doesn’t compare to labor” when they are in pain. People can have plenty of battle stories that don’t involve birth. There’s lots of pain in life that probably isn’t half as pleasant as bringing a child into the world. I’m happy to hand out badges of courage for various experiences and to both genders. But I have to say that “A very high threshold of response to pain” sounds perfect for birthing babies! 🙂

Tags: motherhood

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 enoch choi // May 14, 2004 at 2:18 am

    i think guys & gals should both have a 50/50 chance of getting pregnant when they have sex. that way, the guys would think a little harder when they bed the teenage girls i see, pregnant, and without a partner!