Pregnancy brings with it a treasure trove of information. Some of it is helpful; much of it is not. Some of it we seek out; most of it is thrust upon us.
By the time I neared my due date, I was heavy with information—in addition to the 35-pound baby I was carrying. Information about what foods to eat and not eat, how much to exercise, and most of all, how to prepare for childbirth.
By my ninth month, I had heard all the stories—so many stories. Stories about water births and unplanned C-sections and labors that lasted three days. I heard stories of shit, vomit, and shredded lady parts. I had heard about the virtues of natural childbirth and the dangers of epidurals.
I was dripping with information. In addition to all the stories, I had taken the classes and read the books, and then read them again, and again.
I knew what to expect.
I was prepared and ready. I was informed.
My (unstated) birth plan: birth a child as easily and quickly as possible.
It included mild contractions followed quickly by an effective epidural, holding hands with my husband, back rubs, and sips of water in between contractions. After a few mighty pushes and grunts, I would hold a cherubic little angel. Photos would be taken after I had a minute to put on some lip gloss and wipe the sweat from my forehead. I would take a short nap, feed my baby, and then greet visitors with a smile. My husband would look at me with admiration deserving of the goddess-superhero status that I now held.
My birth plan most did not include my husband injuring his back the day before I went into labor. It did not include a three-hour delivery, a big pair of scissors cutting me from front to back, large metal forceps, or a “sticky” placenta. And it certainly did not include shitting on the table or throwing up while holding my new son. And, above all, my birth plan did not have room for disappointment. It would be freaking glorious, dammit.
Except that all of those things happened and my (hoped for) birth plan flew out the window. The whole damn thing was a comedy of errors. I was a hot mess, and childbirth was anything but glorious.
And I was kind of pissed about that. Because as much as I knew that I should have been prepared for the shit (both literal and figurative) that goes along with childbirth, the truth is I wasn’t. I had skimmed the gross parts in the pregnancy books. I had tuned out the stories of blood and episiotomies and regret. Despite my lenient and flexible attitude about childbirth, and even though everyone—and I mean everyone—told me about the horror stories and all the things that could go wrong, I never really thought those things would happen to me.
But they did happen.
And I was frustrated, disappointed, and filled with regret. I wanted the glorious childbirth experience of my dreams.
Fortunately, I did get a glorious birthing experience with my second son, and over the past 10 years the disappointment and frustration have melted into something that looks a little more like acceptance and maybe even humor.
Last week, my husband and I were reminiscing about all the things that went wrong when our first son was born. I reminded him that he hobbled into the hospital with a cane. He retold gory stories of blood and vomit and who-knows-what-other bodily fluids all over the delivery room floor. We both chuckled apprehensively.
“Wasn’t that funny?” I said.
“Funny?” he responded. “I suppose that’s one word for it.”
And then, finally, we laughed our asses off.
And it was glorious.