Grey’s Anatomy is one of my favorite TV shows, but the way that they depict childbirth is abhorrible. Literally, every character on the show who gets pregnant has a horrible pregnancy, birth, or birth. Meredith has an emergency C-section in the dark during a storm. April loses her baby due to a tragic birth defect. April also has an emergency C-section AT HOME. Callie delivers her baby at 24 weeks after a nearly-fatal car accident.
Every American movie featuring labor and delivery is full of screaming women, pleading for an epidural, doctors and nurses scrambling along, a room of chanting people telling the laborer when and when not to push. The woman is all “YOU DID THIS TO ME!!!!!” at the father. The father is either losing his bananas or napping in the corner.
Just….give me a break.
Every woman has a different birth story to tell. I’ve told two of mine and will have another one to tell in December. I’m planning on having #3 at home since we just moved into a house. A lot of people view this as SUPER risky and dangerous. I’m all…I am NOT driving an hour in the snow while in labor. Then, I’d have to haul my shaking, bleeding, post-labor self outside in the freezing cold and pack up the newborn in the car. Just…I’m good. I’ll pass. We’ve got hospitals close by if anything goes wrong. And I’m probably more likely to die in a car accident than I am having a baby at home. It’s not like things actually happen very quickly in hospitals anyway. Like, have you ever been to the hospital? The chain of communication there is so broken and slow. Chances are, things will go just fine. I’ve had one baby whose delivery went smoothly and quickly but had an infection in utero, so he had to go to the NICU after I had him at the birthing center. Things were fine.
As a woman who has ventured past the point of the 1-10 pain scale, can I please shed some light on these friggin cliches that we see in movies and hear from everyone who wants to have an opinion?
- Your water breaking means that the baby is going to come shooting out your vag ANY MINUTE!!!
Yeahhhhh….nawwww. First of all, only a small percentage of labors even start with water breaking. Mine did with Haven before labor started, but didn’t with Ty. Although, after your water breaks, it means that things should get going pretty soon (meaning within the next 24 hours…not 24 seconds).
2. Faster labors are SOOOO MUCH EASIER THAN LONG ONES!!
I was in labor with Haven for ten hours and five hours with Ty. While pushing with Ty was wayyy faster (like 9 minutes instead of almost 2 hours), it was NOT easier. Ty’s was so intense. After the midwife broke my water, I was only in labor for like…3 1/2 hours. But it was like pooling together all of the pain from a 10 hour and cramming it into a 3 1/2 hour window. I dozed off between contractions with Haven. I cried between contractions with Ty. Haven’s was much more calm, gradual, and bearable. I didn’t have any expectations. I hadn’t had any babies previously. I just went with the flow. Intense? Ohhh yeah. Exhausting? Of course! Miserable? No.
My mom has had all 6 of her babies in less than 4 hours. My mother-in-law had the same. I’ve had a friend who had her first baby in less than two. They are NOT “easier”.
3. Labor starting means that we need to GET TO THE HOSPITAL LIKE RIGHT NOW!!
Okay…for some women, this is the case. But those cases are rare. “Early labor” is the longest stage of labor. It’s usually what women are referring to when they say “I was in labor for 38 hours!!!!” They were not laying there screaming in agony, pushing for 38 hours. They were probably uncomfortable and having contractions for that long though. By this logic, I was “in labor” for a week before both of my kids came….three weeks. But especially in the United States, nobody is going to have you “be in actual labor” for 38 hours.
4. Your husband will inevitably recede from being an adult into behaving like a toddler who has just lost his mother in the grocery store.
Damon kept his cool. He held my hand while I labored in the tub with Haven. He checked on Haven while I was in labor with Ty. He held me while I labored on the bed with Ty. After I pushed our babies out, he told me what a good job I did and hugged me. Seriously, husbands can keep you grounded.
5. Labor is the WORST PAIN EVER!!!!
Getting dry socket when I had my wisdom teeth removed was overall more painful than labor. And it lasted for a week. I got food poisoning while I was pregnant with Ty due to not friggin cooking scallops long enough (those still give me the jitters…). The biggest difference with labor is that you’re not puking or crapping your body weight for nothing. It’s one of the few pains in the world that has a happy ending. In the end, you get to hold your baby. You get to meet a new love. Yeah, birth is intense. I can’t convey how intense it was for me because your brain muddles it over time. But, it is just pain. It’s just the intensity. It is doable. And it doesn’t last forever. It doesn’t even last that long.
6. You will be begging for an epidural and screaming for pain relief.
I couldn’t have gotten an epidural even if I had wanted one, which it honestly didn’t even cross my mind with either kid. Will you want the pain to end? Duh. But something happens when you’re in labor that you really only get to feel while in labor; your inner animal comes out. Millions of years of mammalian evolution kick in. I drew into myself and shut the world out. I vocalized a lot, but during transition (USUALLY the most painful part), I was nearly silent. With Haven, I breathed with my mom. With Ty, I laid back in the tub and surrendered. It’s different for everyone, but fighting the pain away doesn’t help. You embrace it and roll with it.
7. Not having an epidural means that you will literally feel your vagina shredding open at the seams!!
I guess maybe if your provider has to dive in and extract a huge baby like the jaws of life from a car accident at the last minute if you get to the hospital right as you’re pushing and the baby gets stuck. Or if your baby comes out in a funky position, like with their elbow up. But that isn’t the case for most women. And I didn’t feel myself tear. And not having an epidural means that you’re not going to keep pushing and pushing past the point of agony. It only hurt for about the last minute when Haven was crowning. Even then, I didn’t feel the tearing. By the time I felt it that strongly, she was out. With Ty, I felt pain for about four seconds while pushing. Pushing feels nice. You’re finally about to meet your baby. You’re almost done. Pushing feels productive. Most moms who I know who had an epidural, especially for their first baby, got at least a third-degree tear. You can’t feel what you’re doing. Try pooping with a numb butt while laying on your back with people screaming for you to push as hard as you can.
8. “Your labor will be horrible! TRUST ME!! I’VE BEEN THERE!!!”
I get that people usually mean well. They want to keep you from suffering as they did. Or something. Again, I’ve only shared my experience. But I’ve done it twice. AND I’ve never met a woman who had a planned birthing center birth or home birth who wanted to have their next baby at the hospital. Think about that. My mom, who had her previous four babies in the hospital without an epidural, was fed up enough with the experience that she had her last two in a birthing center. No regrets.
I’m excited to meet my little girl. I feel at peace with what her story will be, even if I don’t know what it is yet. And being pregnant with my third baby, while similar to the other two, is also a different experience. Primarily because of the two small people who dominate my life -_-
Excited to meet you, Remi ❤