Thursday, January 31, 2008

Mine is bigger than yours.

All you women who have had babies in your bodies, I want you to get out a ruler or measuring tape. I'll wait.

Got one? Good. Now what I want you all to do is to measure whatever childbirth scars you've got. C-section scars, episiotomies, stretch marks. Measure your most prolific scar. Get a mirror for that episiotomy scar if you need one...go ahead...measure it.

Whoever has the biggest most impressive scar loves their kid more.

What? That's not the case? Well, silly me!

A few weeks back another typically anonymous email landed in my inbox which inferred that I couldn't see my children as precious because I didn't struggle much to have children. I didn't have terribly difficult conceptions, births (birth stories in my sidebar) or horribly uncomfortable pregnancies and therefore couldn't know how sweet it is to enter into motherhood under the threat of the tragedies that befall other mothers in waiting. My children weren't the biggest most brightly wrapped boxes under the Christmas tree, they were only socks in recycled wrapping paper from your weird Aunt...the Aunt that smells like cat chow and needs a shave.

Normally I would have just ignored this silliness without much comment, but this is the second typically anonymous email I've received that's inferred such a thing, the first being sent years ago when I first wrote a birth story on this blog.

No hen party is complete without the comparing of the births don'tcha know.

When I was expecting my first, when I was 19 and I was hoping beyond hope that my big pregnancy boobs wouldn't go away, I was the victim of kindly ladies educating me in the ways of birthing. The two worst offenders were a pair of young mothers, from my church, who were fond of visiting my new home in the guise of being friendly but really they wanted to tell me their horrendous birthing stories filled with blood, and pain, and blood, and more pain, and I think there was poop in there too. Each story ended on how it was all worth it in the end to have that sweet little baby in their arms. I would have told them that they were fine sado-masochists if I thought they would have understood the term.

These ladies asked about my birth plan and I made the faux pas of announcing that I intended to give birth without pain relief medication. Is there anything wrong with pain relief medication for a painful experience? Sheesh no. By all means get some. That's why it was invented. For me, I didn't want that damned huge needle anywhere near my spine. I'd rather go through labor than know about that needle. I was fully prepared for that baby to come out of me sideways and for it to hurt like a sunuvabitch.

These women dismissed my intentions loudly. Of course they would. I knoweth not what I was attempting to do.

After my son was born and I was back home, they were the first to knock on my door with a casserole. A nanosecond passed before they asked me to relay my own birth story. I told them it went well. They pressed. I told them labor was 22 hours. They pressed. I told them that I gave birth as planned, medication free and doing my lamaze breathing like a locomotive. I came out of it with a small episiotomy and size DD rock hard nursing boobs. Woohoo!

They paled. It was awesome.

But, you know what? No one, least of all those women, gave me a trophy for being such a trooper. I didn't get a ribbon, or any prize money or a call from Willard Scott. I got hemorrhoids and a sweet baby boy born with a wiry black hair right in the middle of his chest.

I've lost the contest and that's fine by me.

I like reading birth stories of all sorts. The process of birth is one I find interesting and unique. What I don't find interesting is comparing our value as women and mothers by competing with our stories. I love my kids because they are my kids. I don't love them because I had stitches in my hoo-ha.

Those hoo-ha stitches? HUGE...thousands of 'em. Let me tell you, my vulva was KNITTED back together.

At the end of my post I realize I have ignored men and fathers. If you guys want to get out a ruler and measure something, don't let me stop you.


  1. Ah. Now, in other circles, you'd have been praised for the natural delivery and they would have been criticized for doping their babies with anesthetic. There are the vaginal folks who consider their deliveries to be more authentically womanly than a C-section, but damn, I'll put my emergency C-section up against anyone's birth story. Feral Mom, though, she delivered one twin vaginally and had the second by C-section—the worst of both worlds! However the baby comes out, whatever medications the mother did or did not have, wherever the birth took place, whether the mom adopted or used a gestational surrogate—every woman with a kid is still a mom, and the kids still drive them nuts but fill their heart.

    There is one thing to tell someone who suggests that your birth or adoption experience is less valid than theirs: Fuck off.

  2. Your post illustrates exactly what is wrong with women. Their seemingly innate compulsion to separate rather than support each other. I know-I are one.

  3. one time my husband, back before he was my husband, (and, you know, properly whipped...), mocked me for overdramatizing my cramps. now these were menstrual not natal, but still really nasty. he was in a car accident when he was 16. he shattered the left side of his body. bad weather on the accident induced arthritis makes him practically paralitic. i told him that i believe everything he says about how bad he hurts when it rains, and he can't know how bad i hurt until he is living my life for me. we now have no misunderstanding about judging how someone else feels about anything before asking them...

  4. I went through one birth (6 pound baby) laboring in a hot tub, delivering with no meds, but was induced...the women in my family (and my husband's) were approving (my MIL had both her kids no meds, in the early 70's, and one was BREACH)...My second child, I was forced to labor in bed because of my Blood Pressure, so I had an epidural (WHICH ONLY NUMBED ONE LEG< FORGET ANYTHING ELSE!) and had to have vaccuum son was 9 1/2 lbs...When all the women in my family sat around for birth stories...there was a definate chill when I described mine...apparently it's WEAK to have pain relief...luckily my friends were very conscieous of different bodies/pregnancies/even labor nurses affecting your birth.

  5. Jill the fav sis2/01/2008 12:50 PM

    I can say that watching you have your first kid made me much more comfortable when it was my turn to pop one out. I knew what was going to happen, I knew by all the screaming that is was gonna hurt. I think it was a very good method of birth control for me.

    My first birth experience was pretty shitty, but who wants to hear details, not many people. The other two were pretty easy, but preemie babies usually are. I would rather go through lots of pain and be able to take my new baby home with me than to have to leave them there. And besides, there isn't a better feeling in the world once you have everything out of you.

    And when those men don't understand how it feels to give birth, wish a kidney stone upon them!!!

  6. Those kind of women get on my last nerve. As long as the children are healthy and happy WHO CARES!!!!

  7. Orange, I've been criticized for NOT having a homebirth in a kiddie pool too. Blah.

    Corey, I prefer to lift and separate.

    Whiskers, I don't disabelieve a sincere birth story no matter how graphic, I'm ranting against those drama beans...

    Looney, one numb leg is better than no numb legs?

    Jill, admit it, you just like looking at my perineum.

    One Mother, Did you know how absolutely bloody and painful my births were, seriously, it was SO BAD and I BIT MY MOTHER and THEY ALMOST GAVE ME AN ENEMA! KNITTING KNITTING KNITTINGGGGG!!! :P

  8. I think my mom is crazy for carrying and birthing 9... regardless of how it came to be taht we exited her vagina.

    Anyway, I am glad that you have helped with the pros & cons of pregnancy that I've been curious about in a non-sickening way. Sometimes the forum ladies freak me out!

  9. Debradooda, if your Mom can do nine, I think the chances of you coming through just fine with one are very very very very good. You've inherited an extra stretchy birth canal.

    As long as it goes back and doesn't stay stretchy....

  10. Great Blog, Becky. You really know how to write, keep it up.

    My birthing store:
    We were at the parents training classes, you know where they have a nurse teaching u what to expect during the delivery, teaching the husband to tell the wife how to breath etc,,,, and i passed out when they started talking about eppies. I leaned on my wife's shoulder and didnt come around for a long time. The nurse later commented that she forgot to tell me that the eppy was only for the wife's not the husbands :))

    Anyways, the nurse called the ambulance and they rushed me to the hospital. My wife, who was 8 months preggers, drove the car behind us. When i got to the hospital they didnt find anything wrong but the doctor, with his thick Irish accent, recommended that i go to the bar and leave the birthing to the woman!

    Are u still laughing,,, not even i can make this stuff up.



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