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

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page


In Sickness and in Health: 'I'm really happy to be alive and to see Rebecca'

Rebecca Armstrong
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine