You are a savvy reader, aren't you? I mean, I can safely assume you know what's coming, right? If you're not, rest assured a long, certainly not exhaustive list of the ridiculous things cisgender men actually said to me about labor and delivery is in your immediate future, and if you're a person who has been pregnant and prepared for childbirth in any capacity, I have a feeling you'll be able to relate, too. I have a feeling it will also cause you to chuckle a time or two, the wound of condescension still fresh enough to cause some ripples of rage and hilarity, all at once.
For the men in the audience, this isn't meant to shame or make fun of you. If you feel shame, however, that might be something you want to explore a little further. Perhaps this list hits a little too close to home? Perhaps you've said some of these things yourself in an effort to be helpful? Like many of you, I'm sure, I would love to erase "mansplain" from our vocabulary. You know how we do that, people? By helping the men in our lives to confront and change their mansplaining behavior. When it's not happening anymore, we won't need a word for it.
Now then, the first step of this eradication of mansplaining process is developing awareness. Once the men in your life have awareness of their mansplaining behavior, they then have the opportunity to make a different choice. With choice comes the opportunity for change. With that change, it is my hope that ours will be the last generation of laborers to hear these things men have actually said to me about labor and delivery.
"It's Not A Big Deal"
It's not a big deal because it's been going on for millions of years?! You know what else has been going on for millions of years? Castration.
"You'll Forget About The Pain"
My father actually said this to me hours after my first unmedicated birth, when I was wondering how anyone could possibly choose to do this more than once. I stared at him, too sleep deprived to fully form my disdain in words. His wife, however, had turned toward him with a face scrunched into disgust and disbelief.
"Uh, how would you know?" Shot out of her mouth. "It's been 32 years since my first and I remember every, single second of the entire, painful thing." She then turned toward me, her face softening, "I never forgot. I just decided it was worth the pain to have another child."
"Don't Let Your Partner Watch"
The man who said this was trying to "help" my future sex life with my partner. Stating that, because he'd watched his own child crown, he could never look at his wife with sexual desire again.
To that dude I say, "He helped me create this creature. The least he can do is witness my pain."
"I'll Never Go Down 'There' Again!"
Same guy as the above, obviously. I don't mean to be snarky or anything but grown-ass men who think this way need to have their lip ripped over their head, pulled down their back, and inserted into their urethra. Then they should be told, by their lover, that because she witnessed the most vulnerable and painful experience of his life, she will never be able to perform fellatio again.
I mean, seriously. Get some therapy or grow up.
"My [Insert Random Female Relation] Was Back To Work The Next Day"
This is not a good thing, dude. It's devastatingly sad that new mothers have to go back to work when their bodies still need time to heal, just because our country doesn't require paid maternity leave. Taking care of one's body after childbirth should not be a privilege afforded only to the wealthy.
"I Wish I Could Get A Vacation For No Reason"
Holler back at me after an apple takes 15 hours to push itself out of your urethra, then latches on to your nipple for the next undetermined amount of time. Totally undeserved "vacation," if you ask me.
"It's Not As Hard As Crossfit"
I can't even respond to this. Actually, I can.
"How the living, holy hell would you know?!"
"You Can't Eat, It Makes It Harder For The Doctor"
Oh, yes, and we wouldn't want to make my excruciating labor harder for the (probably)male doctor, would we?
"My Back Hurts From Sleeping On That Hospital Couch"
Yes. My partner has actually said this. To be fair to him, he does have chronic nerve pain in his back, so back pain is the real deal for him. To be fairer, he did not say any of the other things in this list. He was present for all my labors and deliveries, plus two D&Cs for miscarriages. He's all around a pretty amazing guy.
However, when your impulse is to mention the pain you had while your partner was being clawed apart from the inside by your offspring, it's probably better if you just put a pin in it.
If you've made it this far, you are truly on-board with changing your mansplaining behavior. Bravo! I encourage you to let this be a learning opportunity for you.