Something I will never cease to be irked by: people telling me “oh you had short labours and births—that must have been nice. So much better than a long labour.”
Yeah, right. Were you in my body while those babies were born?
Since son #2 was born almost every person who has heard how my boys were born has actually tried to convince me that I had the easiest births, best births, least difficult births of all time - because compared to many women, they were very short labours.
So basically, numerous people have stood face-to-face with me and told me that the experiences I lived were “no big deal.”
But giving birth to my boys was a big deal, and no small feat, to me. Labour and delivery with my first son: total 6 hours, relatively straightforward, managed to do it med-free, and yes—overall, it was better than I expected. There were no complications, other than he was pretty early, a bit jaundiced and my water broke all over my in-laws’ house. I had some oxygen during active labour because his heart rate dropped a little but other than that, good to go.
Baby #2’s birth: much more complicated. Weeks and weeks of early labour for many hours at a time on many occasions, where we would “start the count” and then 6 or 7 hours later the contractions would stop. I was a regular at the hospital because my uterus was “irritable”. The pregnancy was tough. He was a big boy and wanted out starting at around 30 weeks. But wasn’t actually ready. The night before he was born I was AT the hospital, with contractions and dilated, but not enough for them to keep me.
11pm: went home and contractions stopped. 4am (on the dot, super weird): woke up with the “this shit is happening right now” contractions. Minus 40 degree weather and snowy outside, 35 steps to climb from our house on the lake to the car park, and a 25 minute drive to hospital. On four occasions, my baby threatened to come out OUTDOORS: outside the door of our house, at the base of said steps, outside the car, and when we got to hospital ON THE GROUND IN THE PARKING LOT. I was going to be on the news for giving birth right outside of the hospital. But my better half managed to get me to labour and delivery (kicking and screaming) without our baby popping his head out.
I know now, that many mamas have had the experience I had, the experience of TRYING TO KEEP A BIG BABY IN YOUR BODY THAT REALLY, REALLY WANTS OUT.
So recap: 4am contractions started. Checked into labour and delivery (water didn’t break, but **exploded** in the car on the way) at 5:36. Baby boy (9-pounder) delivered at 5:55. Count that: under two hours of labour and only 19 minutes of that experience was in the safety of the hospital.
Yes, it was fast. “Better than a long labour”? Not a chance. I was, indisputably terrified the entire time and spent a solid 2 hours after trying to calm violent shakes just enough to hold my beautiful newborn (I was in shock, I was told). I knew if my baby came out of me anywhere but at the hospital there was a good chance of something terrible happening – I was told this by my OB, so during this panic and fury and pain I had to constantly talk to my unborn little dude, coaxing him into staying in the womb until we got to medical professionals.
A million things could have gone wrong but didn’t, thanks to my husband’s excellent winter driving, carefulness with my situation, and the legion of wonderful nurses who swarmed me as little W started to make his appearance. We drove on slippery roads all the way to the hospital with me screaming. I sobbed as my hubby told me “you can’t have him here in the parking lot” because he was just thisclose to coming out. And the shock after was something else, I will tell you. I was fairly “damaged” for a long time after because his speed coming out did weird things to my insides. And there was also the mental part of it that really messed with me.
So thank goodness I wasn’t feeling that intenseness and pain for many many hours. But I can tell you I would never pretend to understand how it would feel to have a C-section, or give birth at home, or be in labour for 36 hours.
So please, respect your fellow moms’ birth stories. Yours is yours, and mine is mine. We both birthed humans in our own way. And any way it happened, it resulted in a beautiful little life. So can we let the comparisons end there? We are all awesome for being mamas.