at first, fleischmann is in trouble Toby Fleischman (Jesse Eisenberg) is an insecure, divorced man trying to make sense of his life after breaking up with his career-minded ex Rachel (Claire Danes). it’s not. Surprisingly, at the heart of this story is the birth story. And it’s complicated and tragic.
Through the first six episodes of fleischmann is in trouble, showrunner and writer Taffy Brodesser-Ackner closely follows the structure of her original novel while detailing Toby Fleischman’s perspective on the past and present of her relationship with Rachel. Two beautiful people meet, fall in love, have a child, then break up. But then Rachel mysteriously disappears.
(The following will be spoilers for episode 7) Fleischmann is in trouble. )
There are always multiple sides to the story, and when Rachel finally gets a chance to reveal her truth in the penultimate episode of the series, we start to see things very differently. It soon became clear that a moment in Rachel’s life — an unforgivable breach of consent perpetrated by an emotionless doctor at the birth of her first child — was an inflection point, not just in her relationship with Toby, but in her life. changed greatly.
Rachel, hospitalized nine months pregnant with dangerously high blood pressure, finds out that her usual OB/GYN is on vacation. When her labor is stalled, a strange doctor—a surly and rude man—enters her delivery room. Distracted by some Service-to-Other, Toby went outside, leaving Rachel with her bull-headed doctor and worried nurse. The duo persuade her to undergo a harmless examination of her uterus. She agrees, but the doctor forces her instrument inside her body and breaks the water without her consent. An emergency caesarean section follows.
And while Toby understands what OB/GYN did was fundamentally wrong, he doesn’t seem to be scratching his head as to why Rachel can’t bask in the brilliance of being a new mother. Hmm.
Brodesser-Akner skillfully shows how Toby experiences this moment long before he sees things from Rachel’s perspective. Through his eyes, we are led to believe that his wife is a vulnerable yet difficult patient. , it doesn’t seem like Rachel is scratching her head as to why she can’t move on and bathe in her new motherly glow.
In first telling Rachel’s story from Toby’s perspective, Brodesser-Akner details a tragic problem all too common for pregnant people today. , it might seem logical to think that a pink cloud of adrenaline and an infant hug magically bounces you back from trauma, but this is certainly not the case. PTSD) is much more common than the general public believes. Her compelling 2017 study found that “as many as 25% of women experience their CB-PTSD symptoms after giving birth to a healthy full-term baby.” More specifically, the results of a large survey of 943 women worldwide found that two-thirds of respondents said their CB-PTSD was either directly attributable to The article reported that “perceived lack of control and involvement in decision-making” may contribute to long-term depressive symptoms in the months following childbirth. I am pointing out something.
In addition, women of color, especially black women, are very often victims of obstetric racism and face many barriers to quality health care during pregnancy, including implicit bias from health care professionals. I am experiencing
Stories of abuse by medical professionals during pregnancy and childbirth are by no means uncommon. Did. In Turbine’s case, her mother captured the moment on video, recording Kimberly saying “no” to the doctor adamantly, even as she cut her flesh. When I posted, I realized it was relevant to her situation because tens of thousands of women shared stories of unwanted caesarean sections, episiotomy, introductions, and other labor interventions.
These violations of consent are sometimes called “obstetric violence,” as is the case with Kimberly Turbine. Obstetric violence, as defined by Lamaze International, includes non-consensual vaginal examination, disrespectful treatment, forced caesarean section, and physical restraint during childbirth. In fact, obstetric violence is such a pervasive problem that the United Nations recently recognized it as a human rights violation. The United Nations made this decision based in part on information from the World Health Organization, including statistics such as: Four in ten women report being abused in some way. during childbirth and what 26.9% of women experienced unwanted labor induction.
When we were finally given a window into Rachel’s inner world, we see the devastating impact that one violation of consent can have horrific and lasting repercussions across an entire family. From Rachel’s perspective, her non-consensual introduction is defined by sheer panic and helplessness. , which takes us on alert, piercing eyes and a growing tone of panic that overwhelms her voice. she’s scared she is alone And as the doctor thrusts her womb hard, she begins to scream, suddenly finds herself trapped against her will within her working body, and wonders what happens next in the story of childbirth. I realized that I was no longer able to make decisions about
at some point Fleischmann A character in the novel says, “You were a person right up until you were pregnant. The moment you became an incubator of another life, you became a part of yourself. And some medical professionals For some, this reduction to incubator conditions is reason enough to ignore feedback from patients. causes
White, wealthy, pregnant by choice, and with access to top-notch healthcare, the character was practically designed to take advantage of every advantage throughout her pregnancy.
Following the recent Supreme Court ruling overturning Law vs Wadethe concept of reducing a pregnant body to a simple incubator is certainly a topical one. (Adding insult to literal injury is the fact that in many places access to prenatal and pediatric care is becoming increasingly unavailable. Their will is terrifying enough without the addition of the absolutely impossible task of finding health care, and low-quality, patient-centered health care.)
The fictional Rachel Fleishman is a picture-perfect portrait of a prenatal patient. White, wealthy, pregnant by choice, and with access to top-notch healthcare, this character was practically designed to take advantage of every advantage throughout her pregnancy. And still. In one of her most vulnerable moments, Rachel finds herself in a position to be robbed of her own agency in an instant.
most Fleischmann is in trouble, Rachel’s pain is minimized and put away. Episode 7 explains the aftermath of Rachel’s birth, showing the lingering effects of the OB-GYN’s horrifying transgression. One of her symptoms of CB-PTSD is feeling like her embarrassment and her failure as a mother and suffering in silence from the embarrassment of the situation. A few weeks after the birth of her daughter, Rachel tries to tell a visitor how deeply traumatic her experience was, but no one, not even her husband, wants to hear her. She invites her to go to the group, but finds that no one can relate to her story. Instead, she joins a sexual assault group, but is unable to verbally share it. sobs until it encloses itself in a cocoon of support around it.
As Rachel tries to bond with her newborn daughter after a traumatic birth experience, Lizzie Caplan’s narration solemnly states, “This was Rachel’s introduction to motherhood.”
The pain of what feels like a helpless failure in childbirth and subsequent motherhood drives Rachel back to work and to regain some of her autonomy. Rachel is depicted grappling with 10 years of severe anxiety and depression as a result of her doctor’s thoughtless breach of consent, so the only indicator of a successful birth is being alive and breathing. Bystanders, ranging from surly health care professionals to callous politicians to ignorant husbands (see Toby Fleischman), argue that women are life, not incubators. It is good to remember that you are complex people who deserve consideration beyond your ability to create.