Childbirth Journey: Retrospect
By Jane Byers Goodwin on March 23, 2011
First of all, I enjoyed being pregnant. Heck, I LOVED it! When else can a woman just sit and read, and know she's accomplishing something wonderful at the same time? I felt wonderful, pregnant. I felt exhilarated, when I wasn't tired, and I felt justified in EATING, and I didn't have to constantly suck in my gut - because my gut was not merely a gut; it was a PERSON - I got gusts and boost of incredible energy during which I would clean and dust and wash and tidy until the cows came home. I was teaching school full-time while pregnant, and I lasted clear up to the end of the semester, two weeks past my due date.
My only problem with this was that the bathroom was about eight miles from my classroom and my first break of the day was at 1:45. By the time I could legally go to the bathroom, I was afraid to move. Fortunately, I'm part camel. (hush)
A few hours before Sara was born, I cut 5 acres of grass, bouncing on an ancient riding mower.
I was even happier during my second pregnancy, because I knew for a fact by then that all the little twinges, etc, were completely natural and only to be expected, and I feared nothing. NOTHING. I didn't read a single pregnancy book during my second pregnancy; not because I felt there was nothing more to be learned, but more because I felt that a lot of what is in such books is there to frighten naive women into buying unnecessary things, or to frighten women, period, when there is really nothing to be frighted OF. None of these opinions apply, mind you, to women who are having genuinely serious problem pregnancies.
To be perfectly honest, there were three books that put my mind completely at ease, and none of them was any kind of official birthin' book. Lynn Johnston's three parenting books inspired me and comforted me and told me not to worry about most things because if they were common enough to be turned into a cartoon, everybody must be experiencing them and therefore they were no big deal.
Bear in mind, also, that it's been a long time since I've been pregnant, and while the many means of GETTING pregnant have not changed (smirk), the options for delivery have become many, and I can't help but think that some of them are downright silly. Not as silly as many of the restrictions and rules that used to apply, but still, well, silly. I mean, for my first delivery, I wasn't even allowed to get up and use the bathroom! I made damn sure it was written down in red ink in my records, for my second. It would be a mighty stupid woman who would give birth in a toilet and not realize it, although I also realize that the world is full of women who are, yes, just that stupid. I, however, was NOT one of THEM, and I wanted to use the toilet when I wanted to use the toilet, and that second time, I wandered all over the place in the few tiny little minutes allotted to that particular delivery.
I had Sara in five hours, which ain't all that. It was a lot less hectic after my husband finally took the hint, gathered his pile of homework, and went to the lounge to click his damn calculator where it wouldn't annoy me. Oh, and after I pulled the phone cord out of the wall.
When she was deposited on my chest, I was, thanks to all the books and advice, scared to death. However, this was mostly replaced by love so intense it overwhelms me even today.
I had Andy in only twenty minutes; I woke up in labor, my water broke as I walked the few feet to the bathroom, and then we were in the car and bookin' to town. We almost got stopped by a train, but a little push on the gas pedal took care of that. We pulled up in front of my mother's house, threw Sara out the window into Mom's waiting arms, and dashed off to the hospital. Tim dropped me off at the emergency room door and I had the baby while he was parking the car. When he came running back inside, he found me and the doctor standing in the hallway admiring the baby through the window. Total time: 20 minutes. I highly recommend this method.
This was before the days when new mothers got to spend every waking moment with their new baby. Sometimes I think it was better that way; it was like having training wheels for a day or two before we were expected to ride that new adult-sized bike all by ourselves, with the occasional "Look Ma, no hands" stints that we all love so much as parents. Our babies were brought to us every couple of hours, and were then taken back to the nursery so we could get some genuine rest. Did we "bond?" Of course we did. We just didn't need to "bond" in front of everybody, and a woman would have to be nuts not to take advantage of the naptime. OUR naptime, that is. Once we had the baby home, we weren't going to be doing much of ANY kind of sleeping for a long, long, long, long, long time. As in. . . YEARS.
Having babies isn't what I'd call a "comfy, pain-free hobby," but it's also not the horror a lot of older women paint it to be, and usually in front of a young pregnant woman. (Why do they DO THAT? How insensitive!) I had no trouble spittin' them out - did I mention the 20 minutes? - and while I know most women aren't that lucky, I do wonder at the low tolerance for pain some people demonstrate in front of "people." It would take more than labor pains for me to melt down in public.
My hospital roommate for Andy's birth was a woman I still refer to as "The Big Sissy." She wept and screamed and required the company of her husband, her mother, her sisters, her bestest friends, and countless numbers of churchy acquaintances throughout her entire labor. This meant, back then, that while SHE had company, I couldn't. Them was da rules. And when they finally did take her away to another room to have her baby - thank Heaven - she practically had a camera crew in there with her to record her every scream, groan, spasm, fart, poop, and vaginal tear for all posterity. After her baby finally came, she then needed her husband to stay with her every second to COMFORT her and be WITH her, and her mother to remind her that she'd been through a terrible experience and needed rest and a lot of babying herself, which meant I couldn't have MY baby in the room with me.
Many years have passed, but I still hate that baby-ish woman. Whenever I see her, I still think, BIG SISSY. May the bird of paradise fly up her nose.
I made do, though. I spent most of my time in the hallway looking at his beauty: my son, the redheaded one in the corner crib, the pretty one, the baby who made all the other newborns look like either Winston Churchill or the wrong end of a cow.
The Big Sissy's baby, for example, looked like the love child of Mr. Potato Head and Linda Tripp. In fact, The Big Sissy looked a lot like Linda Tripp. I hated her. I also hated her horrible mother and her ugly husband and the parade of dowdy women who were kneeling all over the floor giving God advice about how He should look after The Big Sissy and her baby. Wahh wahh wahh, pray pray, sob sob, boo hoo, oh, craponthemall.
Where was their consideration for The Big Sissy's roommate? There wasn't any. They even stole my chair and pushed it over to her bed. Women such as these color my perception of Christians still today. (I AM one, but I hope I drop dead before I ever behave like those women.) (I suppose it's not nice to judge them, but I do it mostly from the joy it gives me.)
Tim could not get off work to take us home from the hospital; this did NOT make me cry nor did it traumatize either of us in any way. Stuff happens, and we deal with it. Sheesh.
My mother picked us up and even stopped at the grocery store on the way home so I could run in and buy some things. People in the store looked at my hospital bracelet and my only slightly flatter stomach and almost backed away in horror. Why was I OUT? I should be in BED! RESTING! I felt like some kind of freak for being fine and hearty.
I shrugged and went home to my two-children family and the wild rumpus began, is still going on, and with a little bit of luck will never cease.
With Sara, two years earlier, I'd been so afraid of this pain I'd heard about from so many "helpful" women and read about in so many "helpful" books that I agreed to a spinal; this, of course, since I have never been a person who took orders well, knocked me flat on my back for about a week, which meant that other people gave my baby her first bath, her first burpie, her first. . . well, lots of things. I listened too much and I read too much and I believed everything and everyone, and when the advice was contradictory, I sometimes did BOTH. I was afraid of everything. Most of all, I was afraid of myself; what if I, in my ignorance, somehow did something wrong and the baby would cry? Or. . . die? Seriously, I was that stupid. Her labor only lasted just under five hours, but in five hours, a naive young thing can fall for a lot of hooey.
The second time, I was smarter. Also, there wasn't time for anything anyway, so I just had the baby and made fun of The Big Sissy and dealt with life as it came my way. It was a far superior way than the first.
So, what's the moral of this story? Do I have to have one? I'll drag a few in by the hind legs and say that it might be "Embrace life - don't hide from it. FEEL things. Laugh at yourself and others; to hell with self esteem. Pity the Big Sissies, but don't make excuses for them, and for God's sake don't be one of them. Be aware of people and don't let any whiny selfishness intrude upon the rights of someone else. Be an adult. Buck up and show some spunk. Don't let others make an invalid of you. Get up. Let others watch the baby once in a while so you can get some sleep. Motherhood is full of pain; get used to it and don't whine and cry your way through it. Motherhood is full of joy; focus on that part. And did I mention "grow up?"
It is a terrible thing not to become a woman when one ceases to be a girl.
"Don't be content with being average. Average is as close to the bottom as it is to the top."
Jane blogs as "Mamacita" at Scheiss Weekly, hitting the fan like nobody can.
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