I have never understood why anyone would want to be filmed giving birth. Having a baby is a wonderful, magical thing but, let’s be honest, giving birth to a baby is bloody awful.
Throughout my pregnancy people harangued me to watch One Born Every Minute. “It’s so lovely” they cooed. “Don’t you want to find out what it’s like?” they asked in bewilderment.
“No!” I’d reply “I don’t need to. I’ve seen films, I’ve been to ante-natal, and I know what it’s going to be like: incredibly, torturously painful but necessary.”
Finally, one night a few weeks before my due date I found myself home alone and decided to give it a try. I should have stuck with my gut instinct. 40 minutes later I had been completely traumatised by watching a woman trussed up in surgery and zonked out on local anaesthetic calmly placated while at the other end of her body the baby had become stuck, was turning blue and had to have it’s shoulder broken just to edge it out into the world. It was like a horror film, but instead of being able to turn off and forget it at the end, I sat there thinking: ‘Oh God! this is definitely going to happen to me!”
A few months later, when I had successfully survived my own ordeal, I gave it another go. Flooded with post pregnancy hormones, I turned into the blithering emotional wreck I was supposed to be, oohing and aahing every time a newborn was passed to it’s mother.
Yet it still baffled me. For all the beautiful, tender moments at the end, the programme was awash with blunt, brutal and at times graphic depictions of one of the most undignified moments of a woman’s life. I know it’s natural and of course it’s wonderful, but I have never held with this opinion that it’s beautiful. It’s not. How can anything in which the majority of participants defecate, generally without realising, in a room full of people – some strangers, others the people you love most in the world and who are supposed to still fancy you after this! – be considered beautiful?!
You can imagine my reaction when my husband wandered into our living room last week, laughing at his phone and said ‘Watch this’. It was, of course, the much viewed video of Robbie Williams serenading his wife Ayda while she was in labour.
“What would you have done if I’d done that?” he asked with a cheeky grin.
“Punched you in the face”
I would have done. Imagine if mid-contraction, creased up in pain and knowing you had hours more of this to go – fearing in your darkest moments that your body was about to be ripped apart like you were James Bond with a circular saw headed straight for your personal bits – imagine if at that precise moment some moron leaned in, grinned inanely and began singing the opening lines to Rock DJ. What would you do?
For me there are two key issues with Robbie’s labour serenading video. First, the oblivious insanity of singing at someone in the throes of child birth and second, filming it and sharing it with the world. Both seem to me completely incomprehensible and unforgivable.
Yet some argue that it’s just a bit of good fun; labour lasts hours and while it’s dramatic at points, it can also be mind bogglingly dull. We can also assume there is a good chance that she was in on it; it is the only feasible explanation why the world did not witness Ayda Field knock out her husband on the hospital floor. While I will never understand it, apparently some people are fine with sharing these moments with the world and his wife.
Which leaves me with only one final objection, and this is what I judge Mr Williams for the most. If he was going to serenade his wife, did he really have to sing his own songs? Hasn’t she heard enough of those by now? Isn’t that genuinely the most self-centred, oblivious, thoughtless thing you could possibly do during the birth of your child?
Then again, if you marry Robbie Williams, you surely know what you’re letting yourself in for.