Sarah Sands: Carla closes the clinic door and keeps her mystery


Related Topics

At the start of the film We Need to Talk About Kevin, that Via Dolorosa for mothers, Tilda Swinton as Eva endures a violent and sweat-soaked labour and, once her nemesis is born, she gazes blankly ahead, while her husband rocks the baby.

So unlike Carla Bruni's childbirth in Paris last week. The first lady was still parading her chic bump in haute couture days before Giulia arrived. The look was naughty Gigi. She sought her husband's manly protection to get her to the hospital, or clinic, as it is described, which sounds somehow sexier. But then she shooed him away to save the eurozone, or whatever it is he does at the office. Carla was prepared to sacrifice her husband for the sake of her adopted country. More to the point, perhaps she did not want him to see her panting in a non-Jane Birkin manner.

The case of Dominique Strauss-Kahn and the New York chambermaid was cited as an illustration of the divide between French principles of pleasure and privacy and America's right-based culture. Surely, Carla Bruni's childbirth is a better one.

First, she complains poutily about cigarette and booze deprivation. Can you imagine Michelle Obama saying this? Come to think of it, Mrs Obama's homilies about exercising hard, bringing up the kids, putting education first, would produce a little cat's yawn from Mrs Sarkozy.

Parisian mammas are not going to be digging for vegetables or high-fiving children. Carla, particularly, picks her photo opportunities carefully. Even Woody Allen could not stop her flirting with the camera in her cameo role as a guide in Midnight in Paris. Her ban on cameras at the clinic and her haughty refusal to display her daughter Giulia, could be attributed to a French reverence for personal privacy. Or Carla would not be seen dead before her figure was restored and her hair girlishly glossy again. Samantha Cameron, with her savvy retail marketing background, requested a decent interval before appearing in front of the press with Florence.

Carla may well wish to wait until Giulia is old enough to sit beside her mother at the Paris fashion shows. In the meantime, truckloads of flowers and baby Dior must be heading for the Elysée Palace. She won't thank me for raising this, but France's first lady is almost the same age as Cherie Blair at the time she gave birth to Leo, while Tony Blair was in office. Blair, despite the cares of state, was fully supportive, sticking by his wife's bedside for six hours and giving a knowledgeable account of it to the press: "It was an ordinary, natural birth, though it was quite a long labour, so Cherie is quite tired now."

Carla would certainly regard this as too much information. Who wants to be described as being knackered after an "ordinary" birth? She prefers a veil of mystery over the logistics. Childbirth is an ugly business. You would not coo and squeal watching an appendectomy, so why witness something which will forever cloud your view of the female organs?

The Carla philosophy of childbirth may be unfeminist and anti-progressive, but I dare say men will regard it with secret envy and some women with a nodding sense of reality. Do men really need to be at the birth? My generation demanded it, but these days, many women ask their mothers and girlfriends instead. Maybe it is a female experience after all. Which has the nicer ring to it – hospital maternity ward or Temple of Diana?

Sarah Sands is deputy editor of the 'London Evening Standard'

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

JavaScript Developer (Angular, Web Forms, HTML5, Ext JS,CSS3)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: JavaScript Dev...


£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

SAP Data Migration Consultant

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...

Programme Support, Coms, Bristol, £300-350p/d

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Day In a Page

Read Next

i Editor's Letter: The final instalment of our WW1 series

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff

Simon Usborne: The more you watch pro cycling, the more you understand its social complexity

Simon Usborne
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice