Birth is one of those few experiences that is both uniquely personal and radically universal. There is really nothing at all that can be 100 percent expected during birth, except that nothing will go as expected. That said, and because I've birthed some babies in my time, I feel confident stating there are some things that'll definitely happen the first time you give birth.
Before anyone gets offended that I could possibly presume to know what will go on for all people everywhere during labor and delivery, please note that I absolutely agree that everyone's experience is unique. Hell, my three birth experiences were completely different from one another. I have no doubt that all three were different from everyone else's labors and deliveries, too. However, there are some fun parallels to draw about first birth experiences that moms can find themselves relating to. Whether you're happily awaiting your first kid, or wistfully remembering your first birth experience from decades ago, there's something comforting knowing there have been millions of birth-makers before, and will be millions of birth-makers after. At least it's comforting to me.
If connection doesn't inspire you, that's totally OK. However, if you're into connection like I am, read on, because these are experiences that connect all first-time birth parents everywhere.
In full glory and stench, mind you. You will poop on the table, or wherever it is you're birthing, and there's honestly not a whole lot you can do about it or to avoid it. You can get over it now or not, but you won't care at all when you do. There is way too much other stuff going on.
You'll Lose The Use Of Your Legs
It's different for everyone, yes, but if you're giving birth it will probably happen to you, too. When I first lost the use of my legs I was walking, pants-less, from the bathroom to the bed in labor and delivery. All of a sudden my legs crumpled beneath me coupled with the strangest, indescribable sensation. Thank goddess my gruff-talking nurse and partner happened to be on either side of me for the catch.
You'll Swear You'll Never Have Another Kid
There is nothing like that first birth experience. Whether you're unmedicated or not, at home or at the hospital, having a c-section or vaginal delivery, chances are there will come a point when you swear up and down you will never have another kid again. I was sopping wet, sobbing, moaning, and swearing, when I deliriously pondered what the hell would make someone crazy enough to do this more than once.
Answer? See above picture.
When I say cry, I mean cry like you've never cried in all your life. You'll question the use of the word "cry" for anything else before you had a baby, and anything else after. There should be another word invented for the type of all-encompassing crying that you do when you give birth for the first time.
Like a sailor.
You'll Think About Your Birth Mother
This could be a very loaded though for people who no longer have their birth mother in their lives, never knew their birth mother, or have a troubled relationship with their birth mother. Either way, if you're going to give birth you will think about, and possibly thank, the person who birthed you.
I was acutely and instinctually aware as I gave birth to my first child, that I was my mother's first vaginal birth, too. I felt a connection to my mom deeper and more profound than possibly at any other time in my life. Which is, perhaps, one of the reasons I lost all of my sh*t when my mother ran to my side after the baby was whisked away to the NICU.
You'll Wonder If It Is Worth It
When you finally hold that baby, even if it's two days later because of a NICU mandate, you will know it was worth it.
If you don't get to hold your baby, or you hold a stillborn baby, this answer may be much more complex.
You'll Have That One Nurse
That "one nurse" is just as harsh as you need and just as gentle as you need, so you'll alternately love and hate her. She'll know it because she's been doing it forever.
I called mine New Jersey Bride of Frankenstein. She was awe-inspiring, and I hate-loved her so hard.
You'll Feel Connected To Everything & Everyone Around You
You will be connected to an universal consciousness. After you're placenta is birthed, if you're anything like me, you'll lie there contemplating the connection you have to all the women before you, who did the same thing you just accomplished with various outcomes in various ways all across the world throughout time. The tug, tug, tug of the stitches in your perineum will barely be noticeable. It will blow your f*cking mind.
You'll Find Out A Lot About Your Partner (If You Have One)
I get that I was so super lucky to have the partner I did, and for him to show up in the way that he did during my first birth experience. If you did have a partner, and they did show up for you during birth, you will likely have seen him, her, or them in a very different way.
I thought my partner would faint, or be totally stoic when I gave birth to our first child. He did neither. Instead, he held my hand when I couldn't speak, held me up when I couldn't stand, rubbed my back when I couldn't breathe, reminded me of my guttural "mama bear" moans when I got high pitched, and he squealed with amazement when the baby's head crowned. Good or bad, if you have a partner the one thing birth will definitely show you is who that partner is and how you can (or can't) count on them.
All in all, first births are as unique as the people who experience them. Still, it's nice for me to find the commonalities that make our stories similar. This practice reminds me how connected we all are.