Even if you didn't believe the rumor that in 2005 Tom Cruise, a committed Scientologist, forced Katie Holmes to keep silent while she gave birth to their daughter, the very idea probably gave you pause. The ability to go through hours, sometimes days, of back-breaking labor without uttering a peep seems impossible. In fact, screaming during labor serves a medical purpose: "Scientists have proven that there is actual pain relief to be had when we swear or shout," says Jeanne Sager at The Stir. But one woman in Jerusalem has reportedly said no to noise during labor. Here, a guide to her strange ordeal:
Why did she keep silent?
The woman, an Orthodox Jew, had taken a vow of silence, pledging not to speak until the end of the Shabbat on Saturday night. She refused to even tell anyone when she started labor, and gave birth alone in her house on Saturday morning. No one knew the baby had been born until her husband returned to the house later that day.
What happened after the birth?
The woman reportedly hid her baby, still attached by an umbilical cord, under her dress, and dumped the placenta in a bag. She refused to speak to anyone, including the paramedics when they arrived. (The paramedics were alerted only when the husband went back to the synagogue to ask the rabbi for a blessing.) An impromptu rabbinical council released her from her vow, but she doggedly refused to open her mouth.
Did she finally go to a hospital?
Yes. The family's rabbi called the police, who restrained the woman while paramedics cut the cord and rushed the baby to the hospital. The mother came along, and by the time she arrived at the hospital the Shabbat had ended, allowing her to speak once more. The baby is reportedly fine, thought "there is no word... on the physical and mental health of the mother," says Failed Messiah.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 10 things you need to know today: September 2, 2014
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- The Obama era is over. The presidency continues.
- How American businessmen are ruining American business — and the U.S. economy
- Scottish independence is another financial crisis waiting to happen
- Fall movie guide: All the films you should see in September
- 11 scientific studies that will restore your faith in humanity
- Russia's giant spy ship was a high-tech disaster waiting to happen
- America created the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria? Meet the ISIS 'truthers'
- The 10 best networking tips for people who hate networking
Subscribe to the Week