I have been forced by mental ill-health to impose limits on the way I live. I've replaced life in an office with freelance writing and voluntary work in prisons and hospitals supporting those with poor mental health: I am entirely the beneficiary, given the well known benefits of trying to help others.
Within weeks of joining the bank, I became aware of barriers to my progress that were simply not there for my male equivalents. Women weren't given a chance to prove themselves, men bonded in strip clubs, women were paid less than their male counterparts, sexist 'banter' ruled - and that was before I even noticed what was happening to the one other female executive in my department, who had just had a baby.
As someone who works with men and boys, these two descriptions of couvade, inspire and excite me. Our ancestors knew the importance of having the father bond with the baby as quickly and as thoroughly as possible. The reduction in testosterone shows how this is a biological and evolutionary imperative.
It was our own fault that we'd had beans for lunch. And supper. In fact it struck me that beans should never have become a campfire staple. As my son continued to sleep-fart it also struck me that essentially we were sleeping in a highly flammable bag filling up with methane next to an open fire. This not being the most relaxing of thoughts - I decided to get up and douse the fire.
As the world evolves, so humanity remains essentially emotionally the same. All of it crystallized in sharp relief within the hellish prison of childhood. I always said I'd never forget...and yet now I have children, I find myself getting annoyed because their drama doesn't meet my criteria for what merits hysterical crying and slammed doors.
Childcare is more likely to be divided more equitably between parents too. Many of our mums commented that their partners are more involved than their dads were when they were growing up - and others noted that the shift towards greater sharing of the baby care workload is inevitable, given that most mums (as dads) are juggling parenthood with a career.
My instinct tells me that if I want a baby it will come naturally or if it doesn't maybe it is not meant to be. Others have a different vibe about the whole thing and are comfortable with fertility treatment, IVF or other procedures. But for me and for many of my friends the cost was getting too high. It made me sick, frustrated, anxious and most of all I lost me.
"What does one do when contractions begin?" My arm shot up. I knew this one. "Scream," I answered. This response was met with disdain: "Wrong... You need to be in control. Screaming evokes the idea of someone who has lost control." I suddenly came over all John McEnroe. Was she serious? She could not be serious? How could she possibly say that?