June 6, 2006 2 Comments
At our last childbirth class, after about an hour and a half discussing labor pain (although mostly avoiding the word “pain” for some reason), the instructor asked the class why childbirth involves pain.
My very first thought was about the evolution of the human brain, the cranial capacity to accomodate it, etc. But I kept all that to myself, because I assumed the teacher wanted to make a different point.
My second thought was about the Garden of Eden, and I contemplated (very briefly) making a joke by saying in my best dumb voice, “Something about a snake and an apple, right?” But I kept that to myself, too. (And yes, my time out among other human beings is largely spent thinking of things that I then force myself not to say.)
Nathalie was the first to raise her hand. The answer she offered: “Information.”
The childbirth teacher praised her answer and talked about how we would know what stage of labor we were in from the degree and duration of pain, etc.
I thought about all the reading I had done on the subject of pain back in my senior year of college, when I had originally considered it as a philosophy thesis. I studied torture, surgery, phantom pain …
Here’s one of my favorite quotes from my biological psychology professor:
Pain is an emotion masquerading as a sensation.
These thoughts kept me from hearing the other one or two answers offered by other couples in the childbirth class. Mostly I was thinking how this “purpose of pain” talk was better-suited to a religion class. Pain is the product of our evolutionary history. It has less “purpose” than we tend to think.
Then the teacher said, “What else? What’s the reason for pain in childbirth?”
The class was silent.
She said, “Genesis 3:16. You might want to look it up when you get home.”
We were dumbstruck. I thought, Hey! That was my joke!
But of course, she wasn’t joking.
In case you don’t know the passage, here it is: