I like a good surprise. I'll never read the spoilers to a movie or the last few pages of a book until it's time, I appreciate a well-placed jump-scare, and one of my best birthdays of my life was my surprise party when I turned 27. And while I often believe that it's good to go into situations with eyes wide open, knowing everything you can know, sometimes it's better to take it as it comes. So there are things I'm glad no one told me about childbirth, because sometimes a surprise, even an unpleasant one, is preferable to the anticipation.
I think one of the reasons I tend to be somewhat laid back about knowing what's going to happen is that I know how I get when I'm not — when I feel the need to plan. It's not always pretty. Have you ever seen those movies about an old badass who has given up their life of badassery to, like, live in a monastery or something? And then someone will come up to them and be like, "You need to come kick ass again!" and the person turns to their quaint vegetable garden and is like, "I've left that life behind me! I belong here now!"
Well, that's me, only instead of "badass" it's more "hyper-organized Type-A." I go into a kind Berserker mode where every detail must be considered and tended, and when you're talking about something that can't be planned and is as chaotic as birth, well, that's an exercise in futility.
So with that in mind, here are some of the things I didn't know when it came to impending labor and delivery:
When It Would Happen
My first labor occurred spontaneously. I woke up to pee one night and — bam! — my water broke and I started contracting immediately. It's the kind of labor you rarely see in real life, but see all the time in the movies. My second labor was a little more planned. I was "naturally induced," which meant signs were favorable enough for my midwife to feel comfortable artificially rupturing my amniotic sack to move labor along.
I was happier going into labor on my own. It's not that I was opposed to a "natural induction" or that there weren't perks to having a care provider essentially tell me the very day my baby would be born, but the fact that there was a plan made me feel stressed. I thought there was more I was "supposed" to be doing to make sure everything went according to that "plan." So, in retrospect and with those two experiences under my belt, I'm glad I didn't know when the first one was going to happen.
Approximately A Million Different People Would Be Focused On My Pubic Region
I'm really glad I was in enough pain and desperation to not care about the number of people staring at my vagina by the time it happened. Because if I'd been told ahead of time I probably would have gotten all angsty about it, not because I'm self-conscious about my fancy bits, but because I wanted as few people around me as possible when I gave birth. (Only one person was there by choice and that's because he helped me make the emerging infant.) But I wound up with a C-section the first time around, which necessitated an entire OR team. And the second time around I vaginally delivered a nine pound baby who wound up stuck for a bit, so I had, like, a minimum of six people surrounding me during each delivery.
Best to spring that on a person than allow them to worry about it, because you gotta do what you gotta do to get these little monsters out.
Epidurals Can Wear Off
Fortunately this happened during the vaginal delivery and not the C-section (OMG can you imagine?), but it was still not particularly pleasant. Nevertheless, it's better that it just happened than to know ahead of time that it might happen. Because then I would have spent time stressing over the possibility than fully enjoying the (extremely useful) pain-free labor time I was gifted.
I'd Second Guess Everything
During my second labor and delivery I pushed for about 45 minutes, and trust me when I say that's a long-ass time to be struggling and hurting. And in that time of turmoil and pain, I thought to myself: "I could have had a repeat c-section. No one would have blamed me. Why the f*ck did I want to do this? This is the stupidest thing I've ever done."
It wasn't long after the baby was out that I reversed that opinion, but I definitely went through my moment of doubt.
The Extent Of My Tearing
Because, honestly, second-degree tears sound scarier than they are. It's not that they were nothing, but I think I would have built it up in my head had I known about them ahead of time.
I'd Be Upsettingly "In My Body"
Yogis and natural birth advocates and exercise fanatics are big into this concept of "being in your body," but you know when that's not super fun? When your body is in agony and you feel trapped in that body. Especially if you're a natural cerebral person and "being in your body" is in and of itself outside of your comfort zone.
There's nothing you can do about it, so no need to dwell or prewarn, really, but I'm glad I didn't know it was coming because there's no way I really could have imagined it or done anything about it.
So Much Butt Stuff
Do you know how interconnected your entire pelvic region is. You can absolutely feel contractions in your booty, which is just as crappy as it sounds.
Buttractions are real, people, and we don't have the science to combat them completely yet.
I'd Be Relieved To Poop In Front Of A Million People
It's not my proudest moment, but not only did I not even a little bit care about pooping in front of strangers, I was delighted because it meant there was less pressure "down there" while I was pushing. I'm not proud, but I regret absolutely nothing and will not change my stance.
But I'm really glad I didn't know about this ahead of time, because I would have been disgusted and horrified.
I Wouldn't Get To Hold My Children Right Away
Yes, it's still sort of depressing to me that it just didn't work out (either because of my C-section or the fact that my second child needed prompt but ultimately quick medical attention), but in the moment I think you can understand why it's necessary more than if someone told you before you were in that moment.
It Would Not Be "Magical"
Not in the way I was led to believe, anyway. Each was a wonderful, meaningful experience, sure, but it wasn't transformative or transcendent or even particularly enjoyable at all times. I thought that truth was the result of my C-section the first time around but after I had my daughter vaginally it's like "No. It's any kind of birth. Movies and TV and my mom all lied to me."
But, hey, good on them! Because the experiences I had, while not magical, were nevertheless amazing and I'm grateful for them.