No Labor Day? You Didn’t Miss A Thing.

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.

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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

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  • I live in an area where home/natural/non-medicated births are all the rage. I knew going into my first delivery that that was not going to be an option. I didn't feel guilty, but I did feel pressured to do things that other people thought were right. I'm thankful for a wonderful OB, the great staff at the hospital and the Blessed Man Terry who gave me the epidural. Without it, I could not have done it, because I was in total all consuming pain. I'm looking forward to having a similar experience again with the second baby, due out soon. The other thing is this, when ever I think about doing things au natural, I hear the voice of my grandmothers telling me, "You had pain medication and you didn't use it? That's stupid!!" In the end each person needs to make the choice that is right for them, and we need to support each other in our choices, not make each other feel guilty — there is enough of that to spare. This was a great post! 🙂

  • I just want to say that this is my favorite post I have ever read involoving c-sections. The responses on here (for the most part) are my favorite responses ever. You ladies are wonderful. It seems like maybe women who have had to experience some surgical intervention may be a little bit more open minded that those who have not. If we don't believe in c-sections which have been performed for quite along time I guess we can just go back to no antibiotics, no vaccines, no surgeries at all, etc… I guess next time you get a wound we can just let you die from infection. Ya, that sounds good, we will just go back to the days before all of this medical advancement and see how long we all survive. People really need to think what they are saying before they run there mouths.

  • If I try to have a vaginal delivery I will most likely bleed to death. I am in need of a stat hysterectomy as soon as my c-section is over due to a severe form of placenta accreta. I labored the first time for 36 hrs and got no where. My son however almost died. I will choose lifesaving over natural any time! My little girl needs me to be responsible and do the csection so that she has a mommy to come home with.

  • A c-section wasn't in my birth plan, I can tell you that, but I can also tell you how exceedingly grateful I am for the medical procedures to be available when we need them.
    I'm stealing that ^^^^ line from the post above me.
    I'm all about natural birth . . . . to a point. My birth story is bad, hospital error ending in a NICU stay for my child, extra hospitalization for me and corrective surgery 18mo later for him bad, but you know what? He's alive, I'm alive, we're both healthy. Yes, a natural birth could possibly have prevented the problems we both had, but I wasn't prepared enough and couldn't handle the ungodly, unbearable pain. Do I feel guilty or less of a woman? No. But I do know better for next time.
    Not every woman is able or willing to give birth vaginally, much less drug-free. Why does that matter to ANYONE other than her? If the end result is a healthy baby and healthy mother, that's enough. My friend's birth experience doesn't affect my life, neither does my sister's or a stranger, so who am I to judge and make comments?

  • Erika, it's great your births were like that. Are you aware that's not the norm? Just because that's what you experienced doesn't mean everyone else will or CAN have that experience. The comment you posted makes you seem like the kind of person who bases all of her opinions on her own personal experiences and can't seem to fathom that maybe things aren't the same for every person, so if anyone does anything that's different than the way she did it, it must be wrong.

    From the viewpoint of a person who had hard back labor for 84 straight, intense, constant hours (yes, that is FOUR DAYS. FOUR DAYS of constant, close contractions, FOUR DAYS with no sleep (so that I was literally passing out between contractions, only to wake up seconds later as I fell forward), FOUR DAYS OF HELL), followed by FOUR AND A HALF HOURS of pushing (and yes, I was pushing properly; my nurses and midwife were telling me what a fantastic pusher I was from the beginning; also, my hemorrhoids can attest to my pushing strength) (and yes, I was squatting in the proper position while pushing, so as to increase the size of the opening as much as possible, as per Dr. Bradley's instructions (*this is not intended as a slight to the Bradley Method; the Bradley Method is great).

    So, let's take stock: natural laboring, no epidural, at home for the most part, no medical interventions until the very end, 4 days of labor, mother constantly passing out, 4.5 hours of pushing, holy f*k, and then YAY! A BLOODY AWESOME C-SECTION! How can that c-section be a bad thing?

    A c-section wasn't in my birth plan, I can tell you that, but I can also tell you how exceedingly grateful I am for the medical procedures to be available when we need them. Would you prefer me and my daughter to be dead instead of have a c-section? How many more hours should I have pushed? What was the alternative? Oh yeah, a peaceful birth the way nature intended. Well, good for you. But stop looking down on those who couldn't do things the way you think is best. That's just narrow-minded.

  • Ugh, these kind of comments (Ericka) are the very comments that make women and mothers feel like shit and riddled with guilt. Congratufreakinglations that you were able to have a "bloodless, peaceful" birth the way "nature intended," aren't you just the most amazing woman that ever was? Well for many, it just doesn't happen that way no matter how much they want it to and it can be very traumatic and any number of things can happen that are beyond our control but as long as on the other side of it there is a healthy baby and mama, who in the hell cares?

    Oh wait…forgot your ridiculous line, "it DOES matter how we're born." Oh really? Do you remember how you were born? Does anyone? I don't know how old your kids are but when they are old enough, I'd love you to ask them if they remember their birth. I'd be shocked beyond belief if they were able to remember even one part about it. The only part that they know and the only part that matters is that they have a mother that is there and that loves them, not how they were brought into this world. I'm sure my mother who labored with me for 30 hours and ended up having to have a C section and then had 2 C Sections with my siblings following would love to hear that she is a failure to all womankind b/c she was unable to give birth to us "the way nature intended." For the record we all grew up in a fantastic, loving household and are all professional, successful, and very happy, well-balanced people despite our anti-natural births.

    I absolutely applaud the author and Pregnant Chicken for their honesty even when it's brutal because we need to hear this stuff. If we all listened to judgmental people like you, we would think that the labor process was all puffy clouds and unicorns and at the end the kid comes shooting out of your completely intact vaj and thanks you for having them the way nature intended (sorry just can't get enough of that line).

    So go ahead and give yourself all the kudos you believe you deserve but don't you dare judge others for what they choose or what is chosen for them. Thanks to all those mothers who have gone through whatever they had to go through to bring their little miracles into the world, you rock!

  • Erika, I am going to have to disagree with you in your criticism of this. I am glad you had such wonderful birthing experiences. However, the author notes that she is targeting those of us who missed out on having our babies, as you put it, "the way nature intended" — I was heartbroken when I heard I was not going to be able to have the natural birth I had always planned due to complications with my pregnancy. For those of us who have nature make a different plan for us if we want our baby to be alive at the end of the process, this post was very comforting! I applaud the author, and really appreciated the affirmation.

  • I hadn't really thought of it that way.

    I think her main point was that if you didn't experience the relatively painless, vaginal delivery that we all strive for (well, most of us anyway) that it doesn't make you any less of a mother.

    Fair enough on your points though. I'm always happy to hear about (sort of) painless births!

  • I agree with the sentiments of Erika although I would perhaps not have put it quite so harshly. It is rather ironic that this blog criticizes mothers for sharing their horrific birth stories and then does just that!

    I have had two all-natural, unmedicated, vaginal births. The first was that legendary painless birth. The second, while not entirely painless, was perfectly manageable.

    I appreciate that I am lucky (those "child-bearing hips" had to come in handy sometime, right?) but I know my attitude going into the experience had a lot to do with it. Continuing to perpetuate the fear of horribly painful labour does no-one any favours.

  • As a woman who has given birth five times, I can honestly say that my births were : 1. almost bloodless 2. hard work but never unmanageable pain 3. very peaceful 4. easy to recover from and 5. accomplished the way nature intended. How we are born DOES matter.

    Isn't it ironic that you are perpetuating the very birth fear that you claim is "one of the most annoying things about birth"?

    This blog entry is ridiculous and well below the standard of previous Pregnant chicken posts.

  • thank you for telling it like it is!! i am already completely freaked out at the thought of being responsible for another human in a few months, let alone all the weird (and prying) questions i've gotten lately about how and where i am having this kid! seriously, does it really matter to the lady in the grocery checkout if i am doing a home birth or going to the hospital?? is she going to bring me a casserole? thank you for saying my baby will love me even if i get an amazing epidural 🙂

  • Anything that results in a live baby is a successful birthing experience in my book! Pull her out through my nose for all I care, as long as I have a squalling, needy, puke- and poo-spewing crib-slug to take care of and be hated by for the next 18 (to 30) years!

  • I LOVE SRMM's banner, you did an awesome job! (Do you buy chance work for hire?)

    Also, loved her guest post.

    Also, I am following you and will be adding you to my daily blog roll. Besides if SRMM loves you, then what is there not to love?

  • OMG, I love this. I have been a SRMM fan for a long time, but she is exactly right here. I have had lost two children, and given birth to two children. My son, Andrew, was born vaginally with a GIGANTIC head. He had to be suctioned out so I had the tears and stitches and he had the conehead. Hannah refused to come out so, after 2+ hrs of pushing, we opted for the c/s. I am SO HAPPY we did. My recovery from the c/s was glorious compared to the vag birth. I could sit down, I could pee easily…glorious, I tell you. In both instances I came home with a beautiful healthy child. Hannah and I both may have died from the complications during her birth, so I say THANK YOU GOD for the miracle of modern medicine. I agree with SRMM…no matter how you go about bringing home a child (vag, c/s, surrogacy, adoption…) becoming a parent is a miracle and one of life's greatest blessings.
    Thanks for this post!! (And I LOVE SRMM's new banner!!)

  • In 2007, about a third of all births in America occurred by Caesarean section, as opposed to 4.5% in 1965, which indicates, obviously, a dramatic rise in wisdom over the years. Personally, I think it should be closer to 85%, which would allow for a 15% incidence of masochism.

    On one hand, we have: pick a date; make an appointment; have a safe operation; give birth to a baby without a misshapen head; rest up for a couple of days; go home.

    On the other hand, we have: breathing classes; extreme pain; running around like lunatics; not being able to schedule meetings around the due date; not being able to print the birth announcements until after the birth; more pain; some pain for the mother, too; worrying about hitting traffic on the way to the hospital; and the baby coming out looking like a conehead. Then getting almost immediately evicted from the hospital by your insurance company. Or, of course, you still have a 3-in-1 chance of ending up with a C-section anyway!

    How is that even a choice? Choosing a Caesar salad is a tougher decision! (more at

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