If men had babies

2019-09-04 06:04

MY mind chugs along floppily with the body these days, rarely breaking out of a slow shuffle, but occasionally it does stumble on one of those eureka moments. And this week I suddenly had the answer to the world’s population explosion: let the men have the babies.

Having just watched — from a relatively safe distance — the happy arrival of the latest family member, I was again shaken by the sheer magnitude of the occasion, the detailed planning involved, the roller coaster of emotions, the commitment of the parents and, of course, the fortitude and suffering of the mother.

No way a man would do that, I thought, and certainly not more than once. No way in the world would he go back for a second helping. Bumping into the hulking Eben Etzebeth on a dark night would be a more attractive proposition.

But then I started thinking how a switch in male-female roles could solve the world’s most pressing problem, a natural way of controlling the burgeoning population, a built-in contraceptive, so to speak. Simple but brilliant, as David Attenborough would huff.

It was, if memory serves, back on Day Six that God created man (and woman). There was the opening, the chance to have the male rather than the female of the species at the front of the production line. But God blinked and what is done is done, the golden opportunity lost and the women have since been left to carry the baby.

But, I thought, it would be fun if we could at least give it a whirl and see how man would cope with this most arduous of tasks. Yes, it would be a hard sell, even to the most gullible and foolish of males, but there is always one out there. And that is all we would need, just one Dick prepared to stand up and tell us what having a baby is really like.

It would, for our chosen Dick, all start with the timing, as romance plays second fiddle.

He will need more than an F at maths to settle on the right day (or usually night) to successfully conceive and, I’m reliably informed, modern parents are both advised to lay off the booze at the moment critique for fear of what it might do to said baby. (There was a time when having too many dops was often the catalyst for the rushed wedding.)

But back to Dick and his experience. The deed done, he faces those early days in bewildered anticipation. He has a suspicion that something strange is happening down there and an initial home test is rapidly followed by the hurling of diced carrots into various toilets.

The pregnancy is confirmed. News spreads quickly and Dick’s family and friends arrive en masse to celebrate the joyous announcement, downing his beer and wine while he sits in the corner with his glass of water, smiling thinly while fighting off bouts of nausea. The process then gathers momentum with the medical examinations, the scans, the undignified prodding of privates by sanitised strangers while lying prone and vulnerable. Dick is not amused.

He is lucky and his nausea passes relatively quickly. Some, even the pampered royals for goodness sake, have to be hospitalised or spend weeks in bed because of morning sickness. And that’s just the start.

Ahead lie months of increasing discomfort, backache and front ache as the body is stretched and contorted. The feeling is one of being rucked from the inside by the marauding All Black pack (this is hearsay). And all the time Dick is living off scraps and denied booze while his visitors stuff their faces and, again and again, toast the anticipated arrival and all the joys of childbirth.

The clock slowly winds down and the end, for waddling Dick, cannot come quickly enough. He tells everyone he meets that this small stranger is beating him up from the inside and he wants it out … and now.

And so to the organised chaos of the birth, a blur of pain, elation, doctors, nurses, tears and baby.

By way of an aside, and it might just be the company I keep, but there are not too many men out there who can watch the whole procedure (now that is a euphemism) and then say, hand on heart, they would like a piece of that action.

But it is finally over, some more involved than others, and everyone is congratulated warmly. Dick’s look is slightly more jaundiced. He still has to be patched up, mentally and physically, and ahead lies no sleep, four-hour feeds and, for some obscure reason, cabbage leaves.

(By way of an aside, I was reliably told that back in our day there was no need for a timer.

The baby would remain on each boob for as long as it took the mother to smoke a cigarette. This, I must add, is both hearsay and heresy.)

Today, wine, gin and beer are strictly verboten because Dick is breast-feeding. And sex, which sparked this whole bloody train of events, goes out the window. Forever.

But Dick is about to come into his own. He has tales worth telling. Women tend to make light of the life-changing event: “It went well, thanks for asking.” But man does not do stoical and Dick goes forth to regale club and pub with graphic and detailed stories, describing his experience as far worse than man flu and even more daunting than the prodding of the prostate.

He makes a meal of it and his bottom line is that childbirth, and all that it involves, is not for sissies. That, really, is the clincher and after careful consideration, and in spite of David Attenborough and the need to cut the birth rate and save the planet, it would perhaps be better to leave nature well alone.

Women, curiously (this is a massive generalisation and no correspondence will be entered into), seem to embrace the role of pregnancy and childbirth. And men, well, they are tailor-made and perfectly equipped to play the role of armchair critic.

Perhaps God did indeed nail it on Day Six.


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