Is there really any doubt that people who give birth are badasses? I mean, there are plenty of incredibly amazing birth stories and photos (that our society is finally beginning to appreciate). But what happens when the birth part is over? Does the badassery stop there? Nope. In fact, there are so many postpartum moments that prove moms are absolute badasses.
Of course, it's important to highlight the fact that "moms" is somewhat of an exclusive term. I would rather say "people who give birth," as it's a more inclusive representation of real life in which transgender and non-binary folx also give birth. Because, honestly, any form of badassery falls short if it's excluding people from staking a claim to their own insanely badass moments.
Whether right or wrong, elitist or not, I certainly feel like a badass for having been pregnant six times and giving birth three times. My body did some incredible things. However, the real claim to my undeniable badass status? That starts after the cord is cut and the "real work" actually beings. So, if you've just finished bringing another human being into the world (either vaginally or via c-section) and you're feeling raw and vulnerable, remember that you're an absolute badass. Why? Oh, I'll tell you why:
When You're Faced With A Pitocin Vs. Placenta Option
Newsflash: labor is hard. Like, really hard AF.
After the most grueling approximately 15 hours of my life, my first baby didn't breathe. Then they rushed her, along with my partner, to the NICU. I was left in a strikingly silent and still room that, moments before, had been bustling with activity.
That's when the nurse, who I lovingly refer to as the New Jersey Bride of Frankenstein, told me, "Look, honey, if you push that placenta out in the next 30 seconds you're getting Pitocin!" Admittedly, not the most nurturing of statements, but it did the trick. At that time I was petrified and completely opposed of Pitocin, so that placenta was out in 15 seconds.
When You're Dealing With Vomit
When crazy things happen, you deal. You may not know how you did it, but you will deal.
Our Littlest, Lotus, came three weeks early. So, among other things, we didn't have a crib when we brought them home. Somewhere around day three, I was alone with Lotus in our bottom floor master bedroom while my mother-in-law was upstairs with my oldest two kiddos and my partner was grocery shopping. I was wrist deep in one of those fantastic newborn poops when the room started to spin. I felt that familiar urgent, watery tightening of my throat.
I had been changing the baby on the bed (please don't judge me) and the bathroom was easily 10 feet away. My mind frantically sought a solution for the impending inevitable upchuck that didn't involve any of the following:
- getting baby poop in my mouth;
- getting vomit on my baby;
- setting my naked newborn on the cold bathroom floor; or
- the baby falling off the bed while I prayed to the porcelain goddess.
I'll spare you the gory details. Suffice it to say I can not guarantee that one and two did not happen. What I can tell you is:
- at no time did the baby touch the bedroom or the bathroom floor; and
- my partner came home in time to clean up the bathroom.
When You're Dealing With Sleep Deprivation
You know what's badass? Surviving torture.
Sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture specifically because it causes delusions, paranoia, and you to question your own sanity.
Six weeks postpartum with kid number one, and I was well into torture levels of sleep deprivation. I was regularly weeping profusely with leaky, engorged breasts and a screaming, colicky barely sleeping for 60 minutes at a time. I got up six weeks postpartum to help clients reprocess rape trauma.
When It Feels Like No One Cares About You Anymore
In a fraction of a second you go from the most important person in the room to the least important person in the room, when that baby comes out of you. We're not really supposed to talk about it because we're supposed to be fully focused on the new little person, too.
We are, but there's an overwhelming feeling of emptiness (maybe because an entire life has just been removed from one's body). It seems, in the moment, that no one understands the vast loneliness and sadness that accompanies the intense elation of the immediate seconds following birth.
Feeling this, moving through it emotionally, and surviving to love this little human more than anything? That's emotional intelligence, and that's badass.
When You Have Super Hero Strength
I don't really get on the bandwagon of calling parenthood a job. However, when your body has just been clobbered, you're more tired than you ever thought possible, and you're just now fully realizing you never get to call in sick to this gig, it sure feels like a job. The hardest job in the world, actually. You're figuring this thing out at a time when your body has just exhausted its physical limits. That sounds like a super power to me. You know who has super powers? Super heroes.
When You're Dealing With Perineal Laceration Repairs
Somebody is sewing stitches into your taint. Enough said.
When Your Modesty Goes Out The Window
If you have a sensitive stomach, maybe don't read this one.
After my first child was born, she was in the NICU two floors and a hospital wing away. My nurse apparently didn't believe in the healing power of empathy. She was consistently frustrated that I was never in my room. Hello! I was with my newborn! As is the custom in US hospitals post-child birth, she insisted I have my first bowel movement before being discharged. Here's the thing, people: I normally poop about once every seven days. (Side note: I know, it's crazy.) The idea of pooping after having spent an entire day pushing a reluctant-to-leave human out of my body, followed by repairing third degree tears in my perineum? So not gonna happen.
My mom, partner, and best friend were taking shifts staying with the baby in the NICU since I couldn't bare the thought of her being alone. My best friend was in mid-shift when my partner came in to discuss some decision we had to make. My mom was helping me with my first shower since I was having back and leg spasms and was a fall risk. My partner is on the other side of the shower door knocking when all of a sudden I have to go.
Naked as the day I was born, my mom holding me up, blood everywhere, and my partner standing in front of me I squatted over the toilet and went.
I'm embarrassed now, retelling the story. I was not even close to being embarrassed then. You don't make poop wait when it could go away again and it's the only thing standing between you and your baby.
When The Doctors Push On Your Belly
The first birth I didn't know as much as I thought I did. The team, after rushing my baby away to the NICU, began jumping on my belly to release the placenta. At that point, my body was not my own. I survived. That is totally badass.
When They Take Your Baby Away And You Don't Cut Someone
Immediately after one of the times I gave birth, they took my baby away.
Yes, I know it's because the baby needed medical attention. No, I'm not angry at them for doing it. I'm grateful they saved my child's life. However, in that moment? Fury. Devastation. Visceral instinct to lash out at the people who ripped my new infant from my breast. But I didn't, and that's some seriously badass self control.
When You're Actually Able (And Willing) To Have Sex Again
You may not immediately think of this as badass, but upon further reflection I feel confident you'll come to the conclusion that it is.
Birth parents grow a human being in their bodies. Somehow they get that human out, either by pushing or surgical cutting. (In and of itself, totally badass). We have various stitches put on various holes in our bodies. Then, at some point in the future, we decide that sex is something we want to do again. I'm not talking about a "this is what got us here in the first place" argument, because not all babies are made that way. I'm talking: our bodies turned themselves inside out, created new organs, in some cases nurtured and fed new life from ourselves. After all that, we decide we'd like to shift gears and use same body for sexual pleasure? That is totally bizarrely complex, simultaneously grotesque and beautiful.
And totally badass.