Monday, September 6, 2010

No Labor Day? You Didn't Miss A Thing

I'm thrilled that today's post is also running on the awesome pregnancy blog Pregnant Chicken.  Pregnant Chicken is great because it takes a step back and a nice deep breath before discussing all the crap people scare you about during pregnancy.  She has actually compiled a list of all the stuff you're not "supposed" to do / eat / wear during pregnancy, and gives you clear-headed (and funny) answers and information.  If you're pregnant and worried about anything, Pregnant Chicken is a terrific resource and will help you calm the hell down.

Amy from Pregnant Chicken is the talented graphic artist behind my new banner, and she has a little guy on the autism spectrum.  So I kind of have a girl crush on her right now.  I think you'll love her too, so check out Pregnant Chicken.

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.


  1. I think this post might be my new favorite! My first two were vaginal deliveries [the first one being one of those where I can't hold my "prize" until after a snack and nap] but this time it's going to be c-section. the first thing I told my new OB was I did not want to deliver naturally again and risk more birth trauma to my poor child like last time. At first I was "whatev" about it, but as Jan. approaches I'm getting a little more nervous about them cutting me open - even if I did have my gallbladder out last year. Definitely heading over to check out the Pregnant Chicken - thanks for sharing!

  2. Oh! And I totally love the new banner!

  3. Congrats on the new banner. Well done, Pregnant Chicken!

    I had a difficult birth with my one and only child (good incentive not to have any more), so I don't share my story with preggos and hardly with anyone else. I love my daughter to pieces and wouldn't give her up for the world, but I'm happy to have just one of her to lavish my love, attention and liberal ideas on.

  4. thanks too for saying that's its ok to not want to hold your baby right after birth. I will never forget the look of horror the nurse gave me when I said I didn't want my newborn daughter placed on my stomach after birth. Excuse me, but I'd just had 5 days of drop-to-the-floor screaming contractions every 5 minutes -- while caring for my 2 1/2 yr old son. And I'd just dilated from 1/5-10 cm in about 90 minutes and then pushed out this thing. I'm tired and my stomach HURTS! Sometimes mom just needs a minute, but that doesn't mean the child isn't loved.

  5. There is no glamour in birth, let's be honest. Funny, funny post.

    My two births were both vaginal, the second in a teaching hospital where the unbelievably cute first year resident asked if I wanted a mirror, worried if he'd broken my water appropriately, and was bummed I didn't need stitches.

    And now, they are an 8 and 4 year old screaming battling mess!

  6. I had c-sections with both of mine, and let me tell you, I do NOT feel like I missed out on anything. And the epidural (and morphine pump!) was glorious. What bugs me is those mothers who look down their nose at my epidural and think they're all high and mighty because they delivered naturally without any drugs. Well, good for you, but does that make your child any better than mine. Nope. Sorry!

    Love your new banner!

  7. my sister is expecting her second child and will be her second c-section. I must send this post to her. She will enjoy it!
    Thanks for the great write
    Lisa Moorer

  8. I had a glorious epidural/hospital birth, a horrible accidentally-natural birth in a hospital toilet, a better natural birth above a hospital toilet (at the time I was freaking out a bit and just thought it had worked so WELL the last time, but luckily my friends were ready for me and warned the nurse to catch the baby before splash-down), and a glorious natural homebirth (a good five yards from the toilet, never fear).

    It irritates the snot out of me when women who have done the spiritual, natural thing presume to tell the world that their way is some kind of holy bliss, and it equally irritates the snot out of me when women who have done the practical, medical thing act like natural birthers are some kind of hippie freaks.

    If I want to run a marathon for the experience, who the hell are you to tell me I'm crazy or masochistic for not taking my car? If I want to take my car, who the hell are you to tell me I'm depriving myself of a holy experience or that my child will suffer for my selfish refusal to go through pain I don't find important enough to suffer?

    As with all things parenting (breastfeeding, diapering, anyone?), why can't we find good motives for what our sister-moms do instead of assuming the worst based on our own different priorities? Why not respect them instead of allowing our own insecurities and fear of imperfection to turn us into judgey frenemies?

    Grrrrrrrr. Ahem. Sorry. End rant. And one of my favorite things about your blog is that you so cheerfully remind us how important it is to accept other moms' ways of doing things!

  9. Nice logo!

    (and am completely avoiding any labor horror stories of my own)

  10. @Cathy - AMEN. Is it still okay for me to make fun of Dina Lohan, though? 'Cause I have a lot of fun doing that.

  11. Thank you for posting this, and thanks Cathy for your comment!

    I had a horrible birth experience, and for the longest time mourned my failed birth plan (seriously the plan is to have a baby, and that is what I did! Success.). I felt berrated by friends for not sticking to the "natural" way, and then realized I just needed different friends.

    I spent the first month of my son's life in and out of the hospital with split incision and after birth infection, but the entire time I thought "Wow, I'm so lucky to have a healthy child". Now when the crunchy mommies turn their noses at me, I tell them that I'm thankful I had medical intervention to save my son and myself.

  12. I am a mommy who got her baby thru adoption. I used to cry at the end of Father of the Bride II when the women go into labor because I thought my husband and I would never experience that. Luckily I was wrong, after we were matched with our birth mom we were waiting patiently as her due date approached. She lived about 3 hrs away. The call came and of course my husband was in meeting. I got in touch with him and called my dad to come pick up our dog. At 9:00 pm we headed out , we got a call that labor was progressing slowly and no need to come tonight if we did not want to. We decided to go ahead a plow forward. At least we would be in the same city. I had found a hotel for us but neither of us slept much. We were updated again in the morning and told to head to the hospital around 12:00pm. About 5 minutes after we arrived our birth moms best friend came out and told us our son was here . So while I may not have had to push hard to become a mommy, we still worked hard to become a family. It does not matter how you get there it only matters that you get there.

  13. Thought I would add two cents worth since been on both 'ends' of the spectrum. First cherub arrived via c-section - had they bypassed all the pitocin and misery for the first seven hrs would have been pure bliss. Second time, we flew to Houston TX and had the cutest bundle placed in my arms and everyone thought I looked fab having just 'had a baby'. Love them both the same, they are both our miracles! One was just way easier on my body! And let's not forget, another human being out there thought we were awesome enough to raise the greatest gift out there - their baby - we will be forever grateful and in awe!

  14. Love the header, come and do mine ... its in my head, but thats as far as it has gone :)

  15. You know... I do appreciate the thought behind such a blog entry, but there might be a way to get your point across about "the club" without dissing vaginal birth. I tell mom's who talk about how evil c-section is the same thing. Can't we find a way to meet in the middle without creating the birth wars that have been created?

  16. @Celeste, I certainly didn't intend to dis vaginal birth. I don't believe I said that it was evil, only that I threw up from the pain. My intention was to be supportive and inclusive of women who have had C-sections (or adopted, or used surrogates) and feel terribly left out.

  17. I'd have to agree with Celeste here. I'm giving serious thought to not reading your blog anymore based on this piece, which would be a shame...most of the time, you make me literally laugh out loud. But women in this country get enough *crap* feel-better-but-don't-really-educate nonsense about pregnancy/labor/childbirth already (and much of it from the medical establishment is nothing more than CYA bull that happens to make them more money). The C-section rate in this country is disgustingly high, and the more that the medical establishment is allowed to "control" birth, the higher it goes. Does that mean that the *women* who had the C-sections are bad? No. But the fact that many of them *feel* bad, or cheated somehow, is a huge clue that better, honest education about "women stuff" is desperately needed in our country and society. Discrediting women who *have* given birth vaginally doesn't help the situation.(And yes, I feel strongly about this, my first birth was a no-epidural hospital birth, and yes, I believe that the fact that I didn't dope my baby up before he was born so that *I* didn't feel any "horrible pain" (honestly? Labor doesn't make it on my "Top 10 List of the Most Painful Things I've Done") *does* mean *his* experience was better...and one of the L&D nurses actually said to me "We're not supposed to tell the moms this, but you can tell the difference between a baby whose mother had drugs and one whose didn't" second birth was an at-home water birth with a midwife. And neither one was totally "clean" but neither one looked like the set of a horror film either. That whole "bloodbath" bit is one of the things that would make the pregnant me say "STFU with your labor horror stories".)

    I don't want to discredit you or any other woman who got their child by "other types of labor". We are all mothers, and we all belong to "the mothers club". But there are so many things wrong with the handling of pregnancy and labor in the USA and the outright lies that I've heard from OBs...making those "other types of labor" moms feel better at the expense of "vaginal birth" moms doesn't really *help* the situation. It just makes more division.

  18. Love this post! You have been cracking me up for a couple of months now. So,thank you for that too!

  19. Spot on! I had too elective sections. Too posh to push? Couldn't be bothered, and had the cash --my cash to spend as I wish. And yes, sex is as good after as before, and my pelvic floor muscles are awesome. Worth the bucks for that!

  20. With as much as we lecture our children on individuality & acceptance of differences. We should take our own advice...

    I say, excellent post, thank you for championing individuality.

  21. @Mamapensees -- Really? An epidural-free labor & delivery ISN'T in your Top 10 Most Painful Things You've Ever Done? That's *awesome.* Or awful, because maybe you've had ten other incredibly painful experiences, I don't know. I wrote about my experience. I was not exaggerating when I wrote that I was shocked by the amount of blood in the room. I don't believe my writing was at the expense of vaginal birth moms, since I have had both vaginal and c-section deliveries.

  22. UGH. I read your blog this morning and felt so much love for you for being one of the *only* blogs I have read about acceptance towards any birth experience. But now I feel irritated that so many women are reacting outside of the spirit of your words.

    I attempted two homebirths. I am a "all natural" mama surrounded by "all natural" friends. I will spare you all the details of how I ended up with two sections, how I ended up all alone in the hospital without my midwife on either occasion or without any support other than my husband- but I will share this- I actually LOST friends over my decision to have a section the second time. Friends who were disappointed in my "inability" to vaginally birth a VBAC baby.

    The shock that people express when they find that *I* had not one, but two, sections is obscene. It happened. I am ok with it. My children are bright, beautiful and HEALTHY. And as other people said, thank god for sections, as they made me the mom I am today.

    And I relyed on midwives, NOT doctors, and ended up with the outcome of sections. It isn't always the invasion of the medical world that causes them. Sometimes it is the LACK of invasion that does not prevent them.

    That being said, I would DOUBLE follow your blog if I could. You are a rockstar. You are real, sensitive and man, I just love you. (In a cool, reading your blog way, not in a strange stalker cut out your logo and photoshop it into a picture with me and call you my bff way....)

  23. 1. I am adopted by my mom is a real mom and I was so bonded to her from day one (I was 5 days old) that she couldn't put me down for 2 years. Mothers are to be celebrated and feel "real" no matter how they became a mother.
    2. My oldest daughter was actually born ON Labor Day 8 years ago! She was 12 days early but decided to make an impression with a special day.
    3. I LOVED giving birth both times and was pretty lucky with how it all went down for the most part. When I talk to people who don't have kids yet I tell them how bad it really is (the extent of the pain, the blood, the things that happen to your body while its healing) but I don't make it a horror story. I am sure to tell them that it was the most glorious things I ever did. And that I would do it a dozen more times. BUT that I can't take a dozen more babies home because that's the hard part.
    4. You rock. This is a great post and well done. I don't think you were anything but supportive here.

  24. @M - Thanks. I had a midwife-assisted VBAC, so I hear you on the desire to be natural, yadda yadda yadda. My third delivery was supposed to be another midwife VBAC, but I ended up with preeclampsia and needed an emergency c-sec (because they won't induce you if you've had a previous c-sec). Thanks again for your support!

  25. I was lucky to have a super easy, relatively painless, no-epidural vaginal birth in which my over 11-pound baby slipped out with minimal damage.

    That said, I KNOW I was exceptionally lucky, and I wouldn't DREAM of telling another woman how to deliver her baby. Each woman's body is different, each woman's pain threshold is different, and each baby's needs are different.

    Here's one for tolerance! Happy labour day everyone!

  26. This post rocks! Coming from a momma of five.. Four all natural births (ONLY because I had an allergic reaction to the epidural with my first) can I just say that delivering naturally SUCKS monkey balls, and each time I literally thought I was dying... Like, walking towards a bright white light until I heard my husband and doctor demanding I breathe and push one last time! And I'm all, "Please don't hand me that wrinkled pink old man looking ball just yet!! Shouldn't my husband play SOME helpful part?? Give the baby to him!!" So, thanks for throwing that out there too. I DO NOT feel special for having my four sons naturally. I had to do it that way, and it was obviously worth it, because I've done it over and over again. But I have a BF and a sis-in-law who both had c-sections that saved THEIR lives, not just the baby's, who both feel left out of the mommy club, so I'll be sending this on to them!! And in my own personal research, my first born, who was "under the influence" of an epidural was my most alert baby in the delivery room.
    PS. If there are a ton of misspelled words and run-on sentences, I apologize. I typing this on my phone and it's too annoying to proof-read

  27. First, let me just say I heart you and all of your blogs! You literally make me laugh out loud every day. I was lucky enough to be able to deliver vaginally (That is because they said I had 30 minutes or they were doing a c-section..had her out in 10), and with the help of the beautiful epidural. My baby came out alert and beautiful. She was not "Doped" up, and I can honestly say that after 8 hours of piggy backing contractions I may have abused the button a little bit, but I didn't want that pain coming back, because on my *Top 10 List* it ranks up there... Also, my room was a blood bath as well, it was disturbing. My mother was the designated photographer and there is one special shot where she captured the WHOLE mess, and before I saw the picture she sent it out to members of my family. They got to see the untamed Va-Jay-Jay, truly messy, and truly untamed..that being said I love my daughter and I would do it a million times over, c-section, or vaginally. All that matters is she was healthy and all mine!! Thank you for all the laughs, and kind words. You truly ROCK!!!


  28. I love the post!! I had a vaginal birth, but I was THIS close to having to do an emergency C-section. I didn't want to do a C-section, but I don't think I would have felt like less of a mother if it would have happened... after all, it would have been under EMERGENCY circumstances. The main objective is to bring a healthy, vibrant baby in the world... and different circumstances call for different options to make that happen. I feel like you conveyed that message perfectly with this blog... those who disagree might wanna go back and re-read it.

    Oh and P.S. I doubt that 'bloodbath' was that much of an exaggeration. I remember the scene after my son's birth. A natural, vaginal birth is messy and painful. Not trying to scare away the preggos, but its the truth. I'm sure some are more painful and messy than others... but those who say that it isn't... well they just might be suffering from a selective memory.

  29. Great post!

    Dealing with infertility makes you want to shank somebody when you read the stupid Facebook posts about how they carried a baby and their body is different and how they're a 'Mom'.

    But it's really nice to see someone with kids acknowledge that moms are moms regardless of whether or not they squeezed one out of the vag.

  30. War stories. As H.L. Mencken said, a woman who has never borne a child is like a man who has never stood in battle.

    I have never stood in battle, so you are way ahead of me there, Ma'am.

  31. Wow, after reading these comments... people are so nitpicky. *ehhem* GET. OVER. YOURSELF.

    Anyway, I just wanted to say I had my daughter on Labor Day 2009 (sept. 7) Which makes her birthday today, she's one year old.

    And the whole "Your in labor on labor day, how ironic" joke was NOT funny. Especially after the 4th or 5th time.

  32. I love this post! Thank you so much for writing it. I don't think you put down any type of delivery. I think we, as women, need to remember is that every birth is completely different from another's birth. Even between your own children. So for someone to assume my pain is the same as their pain (i.e. no epidural) is being completely closed minded. I had a c-section with my first and am hoping for a VBAC for my second, but I never put down anyone who has chosen differently. We're all trying to do what's best for ourselves and our children.

    Stark raving, if you lose readers over this post, they weren't the type of readers you would want to have.

  33. I'll keep reading. There was nothing about your post which would be construed by a reasonable person to be taking sides. Sheesh! I fully intended to have my son naturally, but what would the uber-crunchy moms like me to do about the fact that my water broke but no labor began? For 10 hours? Yeah. So the pitocin was a necessary evil. 29 hours after my water broke, our son arrived via emergency C. NOT the birth we had "planned" or hoped for, but he's a healthy, smart, and loving 6 year old today. Bottom line, sh*t happens which CANNOT be planned or controlled, and I am grateful that we were able to bring him into the world without either of us dying. So, thanks for the post!

  34. I have had 2 inductions due to pregnancy induced hypertenstion at 38 weeks WITH epidurals and I had a c-section at 36 weeks 6 days with baby #3 who was breach (yippee!) I enjoyed my vaginal deliveries and while the pain was intense it was manageable. So much so that I was bummed when baby #2 was born a short 30 min after my epidural with only 3 pushes. So, for baby #3 I was planning to attempt no meds and was pretty excited about proving to myself that I'm really not a huge wuss. Obviously baby #3, the powers that be, and a new OB had a different plan because baby #3 decided she liked her head wedged up in my ribs and I didn't know until 36 weeks. I researched EVERYTHING and got an appt with a chiropractor who had experience in a safe procedure that sometimes turns babies. That appt was scheduled for a Tuesday. My 37 week appt was the previous Thursday and my new OB FREAKED because my bp was creeping up and I do mean CREEPING for me. She admitted me and wanted to evaluate me for 24 hrs before doing a C the following day. I HATE being in the hospital, so I asked if she really was planning on a C the next day if we could just get it over with now and save me a day in the hospital. She agreed, and I sobbed from then until 3 hours later when she was ready to start the C. For me, that whole birth experience was horrific. The surgery wasn't half of what I expected and I recovered easily, but I have exactly ZERO warm fuzzy memories of the's all hysterics and stress. To add to the trauma, I was seperated from my baby for FIVE HOURS simply because the nursing staff ignored my request for in-room weighing, measuring, and bathing of my baby. I cried, I wrote letters....for weeks. Today she is a happy, healthy 9 month old and I still have unresolved issues with her birth. So, after writing that novel, I personally MUCH PREFER vaginal births...even when those include 8.5 lb babies that literally rip you a new one. Oh, and my delivery with #1 really did look like a scene from a horror movie!

  35. I "missed out" on both mine. I'm totally cool with it. And guess what my babies are healthy and they wouldn't have been if I'd done it vaginally. And my vagina isn't huge which my hubs thanks me for.

  36. I just found your blog and I'm reading through from the beginning. I love it! But I gotta agree with some of the earlier commenters...this one seems to completely dismiss the benefits of labor. It's not that mothers who don't labor don't belong to some "club"...but it's a huge dis to end with the "the only important part is a healthy baby". It is an important part, but to a mother who wants a natural vaginal birth experience, it's not the ONLY important part. I am one such mother--two children, two labors, two c-sections. I get your intent--but my impression was that you were sharing your own horror stories--your expressions of pain and the bloodbath are certainly your experiences to share, but they contribute to the idea that vaginal birth is this horrible experience for everyone. It is not a horrible, bloody experience for everyone.

  37. I am an adoptive mother (of one and one on the way!) I LOVE this post, I see all these "Birth is the glorius wonder of motherhood and how dare you miss out on it!!"

    I do agree that if there is no other reason besides "I just don't want to labor" a c section should be low on the plan, but the emergency and seriously needed times shouldn't be treated as a failure.

    And the next idiot that tells me "What about his REAL mom?" get's bitch slapped with my size 10 shoe on my hand. (only cause I cant kick anyone in the taco) and yes that HAS been said to me.


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