The first time I ever dropped an f-bomb on live radio, I was about six months along with my son and the host asked me if I was expecting a delivery from the stork.
"F*ck the stork," I replied, pregnant with righteous indignation, staring into his cis, male, uterus-less eyes with more than a little resentment. (Thank goodness for satellite radio, where you can pretty much say whatever you want.) "We do all this physical and emotional labor, making and giving new life, all for some lazy-ass birds to take credit?" I never call a birth a “delivery,” because all jokes aside, the suggestion that babies are delivered to biological parents seriously offends me, especially now that I’ve been pregnant twice and given birth once.
Typically when something is delivered, the person receiving the delivery is totally uninvolved in the production of that thing. The exact opposite is true in the case of birth. Birthing parents make new people from scratch. We soldier on through often grueling physical symptoms; endure the indignities of having another person live in your body; frequently survive the heartbreak of pregnancy loss; bear the anxiety that surrounds the uncertainty about the health of our future children, and, of course, weather the brutal and beautiful experience of labor and birth.
To be clear: not doing those things doesn’t make a non-biological parent less of a parent. But given those facts, it’s wholly inappropriate for the people attending a birth (be they doctors, nurses, midwives, or anyone else) to take credit for what is fundamentally the birthing parent’s work. Yet that’s exactly what happens when a doctor swoops in during the last hours of a pregnancy and claims s/he has “delivered” a baby.
On this site, I’ve occasionally written about labor and birth under an editor’s headline that includes the word “delivery,” and I confess that I cringed every single time. I truly cannot stand that word in this context, because as a teacher, a writer, and an advocate, I understand that words mean things, and the words we choose to describe our reality matters. The language we choose shapes how we think about things, and how we think determines how we act. “Delivery” is language that erases the serious mental, emotional, and physical labor of pregnancy and childbirth, and credits the care provider with the work the person giving birth does.
“Delivery” is language that makes people think it’s OK to tell a pregnant person to “just put the baby up for adoption” if they don’t want to continue their pregnancy, like pregnancy and birth are just minor details they doesn’t really have to worry much about. After all, if they’re just waiting on a delivery as opposed to, you know, making a brand new human, then spending hours or days of grueling labor pushing that human out or getting it cut out of them, followed by weeks or months of grueling recovery — and possibly mourning if their child is born dead — then it’s no big deal to forward their “delivery” onto someone else if it turns out it’s not what they want.
Few “deliveries” fundamentally transform a person’s life and how that person sees and experiences themselves. But every person who has ever given birth is transformed by that experience, for better and for worse. No one should be forced to embark upon that kind of transformation, or have the fact of that transformation erased like it was nothing.
Because there are still people out there who foolishly, offensively believe a pregnant person is a “host” (and, terrifyingly, other people out there who are actually willing to vote for such people); because our bodies continue to belong to us even after we become pregnant, and thus we are the only ones who deserve to make decisions about what happens to us during birth or at any other time; because it’s damn past time for us to reclaim our agency during pregnancy, birth, and every other part of our lives; because too much of what we do is taken for granted; and for plenty of reasons like the following, I do not and will not call a birth a “delivery.”