Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Messy Business of Being Born: Not for the squeamish

I'm always incredulous when I hear stories about women who give birth without knowing they were pregnant.  First timers and really young mothers I can see to a point, but how can your body go through the process of growing another human being without giving you a heads up?  Then it happened to someone I know, a woman who'd given birth three times before and was under a doctor's care for something unrelated.  She was in the shower when her waters broke.  Mama and baby are gorgeous and well but I still don't get it.  With my oldest I didn't feel right for a few days and suspected; with my younger two I knew almost at the moment of conception because my symptoms were the same each time. 

This story this week blew my mind.  Not only did she not know she was pregnant, she had a twenty minute labor.  My first labor was 48 hours and involved an induction and a cesarean (and my husband monitoring my contractions on the ticker tape: "You're having a contraction, honey."  Really?  I hadn't noticed).  After all that you'd be amazed at the number of other women who seem to think that pushing is the only real way to motherhood, as though I am somehow less of a mother, and have had the nerve to tell me that to my face.  I'm not holding myself above Melissa, I'm freaking envious. 

What makes us so weirdly competitive, though?  When Posh Spice gave birth a few weeks ago all the "too posh to push" nonsense started again.  Outrageous doesn't even begin to cover it.  There are a whole host of reasons why she might have had her first c-section including pre-eclampsia, umbilical cord prolapse and fetal distress.  Her first, like mine, could have simply been too big to pass through the birth canal.  But why should she have to justify it?  She hasn't, blessedly, but why do we (universal we) expect her to and demand an answer to our nosiness?  Who are we to try to steal her joy? 

"Baby Mine" is always a tearjerker for me, especially the Allison Krauss version.  I'll be over there with the Kleenex.


  1. This is one of those "you're doing it wrong" issues that is so easy to fall into and so ultimately annoying. I agree. A little less judgment, a little more love, would make life a lot easier for mothers, who seem to come in for criticism no matter what they do. Being a mom is hard work -- and no, I probably couldn't do it better than you.

  2. Oh, the mommy guilt can be a mind bender. Right after my oldest was born I had a dream where she was suspended in a fishing net above a swimming pool filled with sharks. I told my husband I was a little anxious and he was like, "Uh, ya think?" I'm much better now, though.


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