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Childbirth The French Connection Joan Seliger Sidney

New Haven, Connecticut, Fall 1966 What do I know about childbirth? Nothing, so I look forward to learning “everything you need to know,” my obstetrician (OB) says about a four-week hospital course. What do I learn? There’s pain. There’s medication. A Peridural to dull labor pain, Demerol to dull episiotomy pain. The Yale New Haven Hospital tour takes us through cold, stark, unfriendly labor and delivery rooms. As a naïve first-timer, I have no idea childbirth that can be different than this. I trust my OB. I trust the hospital. I believe doctors know best. The traffic light turns green. As I waddle across York Street, an older woman coming in the other direction stares at my belly. “You’re going to have a boy.” “Thanks,” wondering if she’s right, how she knows. As I near my due date, I ask a friend with a new baby, “What’s giving birth like?” “It’s like shitting a watermelon.” I ask my mother. “The worst pain I ever experienced,” Mom says. “I didn’t want to tell you, Joanie.” That’s enough information. Too much. But I’m young and fearless.

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