In honor of Labor Day, I thought I’d talk about labor. You know, the kind where you work really hard for 12 24 36+ hours and at the end, instead getting a paycheck, you get a small human being. There are no OSHA laws covering this type of labor, and there is no compensation when you are injured on this job.
I only went into labor once. My other two deliveries were emergency Cesarean sections. I know a lot of women who have had C-sections and never delivered vaginally. Sadly, many of them feel left out of some awesome club, or that they’ve missed out on some amazing primal female experience. You know: the miracle of birth. (Insert chorus of angels, and maybe some footage from NOVA.)
I need to tell those women something important: you didn’t miss out on anything. You know what you missed out on? Pain so intense it made me vomit. So if you missed out on that, good for you.
Also, even if you’ve seen those shows on TLC, you haven’t really seen vaginal birth. I couldn’t even really see what was going on, and it was still pretty horrifying. At least during my C-sections, the nurses put up a little curtain so I wouldn’t see the knife going in and completely lose my mind. During the Peanut Butter Kid’s birth, I was so focused on getting something the size of a pumpkin out of my body, I wasn’t really paying attention to how things looked. Once the baby was born and off being poked and prodded and weighed, I sat up and looked around.
The place was a bloodbath.
Seriously. I really don’t want to freak out any of my pregnant readers, but I swear someone really should have told me about that. I was pretty numb from the incredibly glorious epidural I had been given, so I didn’t feel any pain. But it looked like an episode of M*A*S*H or maybe a horror flick had been filmed in the delivery room. It wasn’t scary as much as surprising.
No one gave me a medal, or a prize, or a special jacket for going through labor. You know what I got? A baby. A beautiful, healthy baby. Yes, it was a miracle. My two C-section deliveries utilized massive amounts of medical personnel and technology to produce healthy babies. You know what that is? Also a freaking miracle.
I have a good friend whose daughter came about through a surrogate mother. That little girl is the most beloved child on the planet. Her parents feel blessed every. single. day. that she is in their lives. If that isn’t a miracle, I don’t know what one is. One of my best friends was adopted. Somewhere, a woman, out of desperation, fear, or love, gave her baby to another family to raise and cherish. That baby made two people into a family. Also miraculous.
Some women have told me they think that maybe women who have vaginal deliveries bond more, or faster, with their babies. I don’t think that’s true. Many women are simply exhausted after a vaginal delivery. Some — gasp! — aren’t even ready to hold the baby right away. It doesn’t make them bad mothers. It means they’re busy having a small post-traumatic stress moment because they just pushed an entire other person out of their bodies. Generally, by the time you deliver the baby you haven’t eaten or slept in a long, long time. Some women just need a nap and a roast turkey dinner snack before they’re ready to cuddle.
I did not bond any differently with the Peanut Butter Baby than with my C-section babies. My recovery was certainly easier than with the C-sections, and I got to take a shower right away, which was awesome, because as I said, the room looked like Carrie had been filmed there, and I was Sissy Spacek. So I was really excited about being able to take a shower. On the other hand, after my C-sections I got to stay in the hospital much longer, with fabulous nurses and meals, however bland, brought to me on a tray.
One of the most annoying things about birth is hearing other people brag about their birth horror stories. Some women feel compelled to tell every pregnant woman about the 48 hours of agonizing labor they withstood, or about the anesthesia that went wrong, or about their tenth-degree tear. Here’s what you preggos should say to those women: For the love of God, shut up. I realize you may genuinely have been so traumatized by the birth that you still need to process it (out loud). That is what older women are for. Women who are done having babies. Tell them your horror stories, not the young woman at Kohl’s picking out nursery decorations.
And please stop with the competitive one-upsmanship (upswomanship?). If you want to share your birth story among friends, fine. But if your goal is only to be the center of attention for having the most horrible birth story ever, you need to stop being such a Dina Lohan. I’m sorry that your difficult birth did not earn you a prize or a reality show. But you’re scaring the beejezus out of the preggos, and that’s not cool. I will be happy to award you the first-ever Kardashian Prize for Attention Whoriness if you will just stop.
So if you “miss out” on traditional labor and delivery, don’t sweat it. The important part is the part where you end up with a baby in your arms to love, not how the baby gets there. And anyone who makes you feel otherwise can suck it.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
stark. raving. mad. mommy. is the mother of four children, aged four to nine. She writes about parenting, insanity, and the Lego obsession known as Asperger Syndrome at www.starkravingmadmommy.com.