Tabitha never wanted the full Berkeley. But back when we started, seven years ago, she gave a passing thought to employing a midwife instead of a doctor, and thought that it might make the experience more meaningful if she skipped the painkillers. She picked out music and found scented oils with which to be rubbed. To the immense irritation first of her obstetrician and then of herself, she hired a doula, who was meant to use said oils to massage her feet during the delivery, but instead went out for turkey sandwiches and never came back.
That was seven and a half long years ago. With her slender build and narrow hips and near total intolerance of physical discomfort, my wife was ill-designed for childbirth. The first time around, in this very hospital, she began to hemorrhage. The doctors saved her life, and with so little drama that we didn't realize what they'd done until well after. The second time around, again in this hospital, they saved not only her but our second daughter, who had entered the birth canal at a historically tragic angle. Entering her third pregnancy, my wife's lost interest in doulas and incense. She longs only for painless, antiseptic, impersonal modern medicine. Numb is good. If they ran tubes underground from hospitals to homes so that painkillers could be delivered in advance of labor, she might well have been their first paying customer. Of the original Berkeley Dream, the mirror's all she's got left.