If I were looking for a book on skydiving, I would search for one written by someone who had actually, well, jumped out of a plane. Literature written by those who observe on the ground or even by the pilot would definitely have some interesting perspectives, but really? Can I REALLY understand what it is to ride up in that plane, stomach turning over in knots and wondering:
"Will I survive? Will I get injured? Is this REALLY a smart idea? Maybe someone else should jump!!"
Can a pilot who has never taken the leap into air honestly comprehend the emotions of someone free-falling for hundreds and hundreds of feet? Would his interpretations of that experience ever come close to first-hand knowledge?
That is the attitude I had when I began reading the book, Birth Day by Dr. Mark Sloan, a pediatrician and father. How can a MAN know enough about childbirth? How can someone without the proper reproductive parts even GUESS to know what childbirth is? Sure, he's attended hundreds, perhaps thousands, of births, including his own 2 children. Sure, he's cared for those babies and their parents for decades, guiding them through the typical new parent fears and questions. This definitely makes him qualified to answer questions about BABIES, but about pushing that infant out? I wasn't convinced.
After I got into the book, though, my opinion began to sway. Like a toy sailboat on the ocean, my thoughts bobbed every which way...
"Just because YOU had a male OB who wasn't sympathetic doesn't mean all male doctors are that way! Give the man a chance, self. Give him a chance..."
And because his knowledge and research is so vast, written in a style that even a non-medical mother such as myself could completely grasp all of the technical terms (without feeling talked down to), I admitted that I enjoyed this book.
I said it. I liked a book by a man doctor. What's next, military school for my boys?!?
Birth Day appealed to me not because it was about birthing babies. I KNOW about birthing babies. No, Birth Day kept me interested until the end because Dr. Sloan admitted to knowing nothing of what the mother really goes through. (I mean, we can all IMAGINE the pain of getting our legs crushed by a semi-truck, but we'll all admit that we have no IDEA of what it truly means, without having that experience first-hand.) He instead focused on everything that surrounds human childbirth and the reasons (both socially, economically and physically) that our methods of delivering our children have become what they are today. I now understand why the baby's entire body must turn mid-delivery, why feminism had an effect on medicated births, and why cesareans have risen so dramatically in the past generations. (I will also never call it a Cesarean Section, now that I know "Cesarean" actually MEANS "Section"...) He managed to educate me, his reader on topics I had never considered or understood. He also made me furious to hear that the US is one of the only developed countries that doesn't use Nitrous oxide as a pain management alternative. (Read Chapter 5. I really AM irked!)
But seriously, Birth Day was a lovely book. Dr. Sloan compiled a very thorough and honest book about childbirth and infancy that would be beneficial to any woman. Especially a woman who's wanting to jump out of a plane...
For other interpretations on Birth Day, check out the SVM Book Club discussions, going up this Wednesday on the Silicon Valley Moms Blog!
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