Sunday, February 14, 2016

How To Birth a Quene - Get Thee To Thine Chamber, Oh Pregnant One

In 1516 a heavily pregnant Catherine of Aragon walked through a passageway into her prepared birthing apartment.
http://rosaliegilbert.com/maternitywear/1445VanderWeydenVisitation_detail.jpg
Let me assist you, my lady. . . having a craving, are we?
By 13 February, she'd been in there between six to eight weeks, resting and gearing up for the birthing process.
Like the child inside her, Catherine was in a womb-like environment: light was excluded, hushed voices were further quietened by sound wave absorbing tapestries on the walls, and no men allowed.
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-quYkbVN5Ewc/VEqZUkZwA7I/AAAAAAAAFU4/uktgOmzA_oE/s1600/Screen%2Bshot%2B2014-10-24%2Bat%2B19.30.21.png
Enter. . . quietly. . .

Catherine of Aragon floated in a reality created by ordinance; ordinance written by her grandmother-in-law, Margaret Beaufort.

Margaret Beaufort was a 'shake hands on a deal, then cover it in cement' kind of negotiator.
http://cdn.skim.gs/images/woman_glasses_featured_cdyjbk/equal-pay-day-by-the-numbers-will-make-you-furious
And all costs for the ink used to sign the deal will be absorbed by YOU.
Like her son, Henry VII, she had an amazing capacity for detail - and for the exact cost of every component of the detail.http://pic.azimage.com/photos/premium/thumbs/136/nerd-female-accountant-with-calculator_136176866.jpg
Take it one further, and it's likely she ground down the seller on the cost of every component.
That's just how she rolled.

Margaret Beaufort birthed her only child at age thirteen (!!) and nearly died in the process - as you might imagine.
http://thehistorychicks.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/margaret-beaufort.jpg
"Don't let the headdress fool you; I'm no flighty teen-aged girl. I am tougher than your worst nightmare."
She didn't die, though, and she was as tough as a woman could be; she made sure nothing, not even the teeniest, tiniest detail went wrong when it came to her son's wife giving birth, and her grandson's wife as well.
http://www.adaa.org/sites/default/files/OCD_woman-blue-leaning-against-glass.jpg
. . . and you better believe I triple check all facts and figures.
She wrote out exactly how the rooms should be decorated; the theme of any tapestries hung, the colours used, the volume of the voices of the women in attendance, and the exact length of the episiotomy. 
(Okay, I'm kidding about the last two.) 

When Catherine of Aragon, waiting to give birth to the future Mary I wanted conversation, her ladies were there to talk (quietly, and only about pleasant topics) with her.
When she required an extra cushion for her aching back, her attendants had several ready and waiting.
If she wanted something to eat, she was fed the foods most suitable for an expectant mother.

And all of this happened with no.
Men.
Allowed.
http://sd.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/i/keep-calm-and-no-men-allowed.png
Not until after she'd birthed her child and then remained secluded for a month or so, and had been through purification as set forth by the Church.
Men.
Such babies.
As though a little lochia was going to kill them, right? 
I digress.

Given the modern woman's birth experience ("Hey! I dropped out at 7 of a 10K race to give birth, and STILL finished - then I went to Target with my 1/2 hour old infant and we shopped like mad!")
http://www.jennysuemakeup.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/IMG_8497.jpg
"Even a trip to Target at age 3 hours old can't make me cute. . ."
the sequestering of an expectant mother sounds about right to me.
Oh, the length of time may have been a bit excessive, and some of the interior decorating rules a bit much, yet the idea of being with one's besties who were there to soothe and pamper one before the process of birthing a bundle of joy just doesn't have a downside of which I'm aware.
And ladies, face it; did you really want your husband/partner/whatever watching your business while you panted and pushed?
It felt mostly to me like, "Get the *uck out of there, dude! Quit looking and don't under any circumstance whatsoever even think of touching me!" 
http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/knocked_up_birth.jpg
"GET OUT!"

So Catherine of Aragon, who was the ultimate girl's girl, enjoyed the forethought of her grammy-in-law who wrote out exactly how the birth went down.
And when little Princess Mary was born, her parents, slap worn out and disheartened by the deaths of their previous babies, had cause to order the ringing of the bells of celebration and for Te Deums to be said.