Childbirth is literally life changing, no matter the outcome. I love hearing every labor and delivery story imaginable: happy, sad, triumphant, and devastating. In my opinion, one birth story is the story of all universal human experience. Because I love childbirth stories so much, I asked moms to describe the one part of childbirth they actually miss because, believe it or not, bringing another human being into the world isn't all bad.
My own childbirth experiences are profound, to say the least. I hold each and every one of them in my heart. Hearing other mamas' stories even made me miss things about my own experiences that I had, for whatever reason, forgotten about. For example, and at the risk of sounding self-centered, I absolutely miss how intensely people cared for me when I was in labor. I'm a mom and a therapist, after all. The majority of my life is spent taking care of other people. Even though I am happy to be independent and strong, it was so nice to have people taking care of me while simultaneously acknowledging my strength. The only time I can think of that happening in my life, besides with my best friends and partner, is during childbirth.
If I'm totally honest, I also really miss the sleep I got in the hospital the last two times I gave birth. I had kids at home so sleep was a rare commodity. With that in mind, here's what a few other moms miss about that pivotal moment in their lives. I'm honored these 11 mamas trusted me with the parts of childbirth they miss:
"The rest. For 30 hours I had contractions every minute or so once the Pitocin induced them. For me, the moments between contractions felt like restful naps, and in my remembering of it I mentioned the naps feeling so restful. My partner's mouth fell open and I was informed there was rarely a minute between them, and a minute at most, for the 30 hours."
"The realization that [my daughter] was here and not inside anymore. As happy as I was, I was nervous to let her out of my sight. My whole heart and world was right there: breathing, crying, and vulnerable to everything."
"Feeling so powerful. Like, holy f*ck, I can do this! I can give birth!"
"Telling a telemarketer I couldn't participate in his survey because I was in labor."
"I actually loved labor. Almost all of it. I would go through it again in a heartbeat. (Not pregnancy, though.) The physical pain was nothing compared to the psychic euphoria once the kid is born. It's just so f*cking crazy, pushing a human out. No choice but to continue forging ahead with something difficult and painful. I think all the fantasy adventure books helped set me up! 'I must complete my mission!' This may all sound like a rant. I've never and will never experience anything like it."
"Laughing with my husband and spending time alone with him before meeting baby. Every time the nurse walked in, he made a bad joke. It's a nervous habit of his. So, I said, 'You're not funny.' He wrote those words on his bicep with green sharpie, and wants it for his next tattoo. I literally laughed the baby out. Epidurals and supportive partners are the best."
"Oh man. The moment when I realized I was actually in labor and not just Braxton Hicks and getting super excited to FINALLY meet my baby. Also, the first REAL meal after. With my first it was a Sonic Cheeseburger and tots. With my second, it was also a cheeseburger, haha.
"And honestly, I kinda miss everyone taking care of me, especially my husband. I am usually the one taking care of everyone else. He was so good during both my intense and complicated labors, and especially the emergency c-section. He soothed me and made me feel safe. And, of course, the look on his face when he held his baby for the first time."
"I absolutely loved the feeling of overwhelming power and beauty of being in labor, knowing that my body could do such an amazing thing and bringing a new life into this world. I was acutely aware of everything around me and just reveled in it. I felt like Wonder Woman. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Both times. Really felt blessed to be able to do this."
"That feeling of complete internal focus. I have anxiety and panic disorder, but while I was in labor it was mostly gone. The only time it came back was when someone pulled me out by trying to talk to me. It felt like my labor went so quickly, like maybe two hours. I was genuinely surprised when I realized the sun had gone down, after [my daughter] was actually in my arms. I just felt like I was in my own world, where everything was still and quiet."
"The intimacy and romance of it with my husband. Our time spent totally connected in the 33 hours of my labor is something that will always swell my heart with profound love, pride, joy, and bring tears to my eyes. Slow dancing to "At Last" by Etta James (it was part of our birthing playlist and it was the first song to come on, so fitting!), re-reading our vows to one another, knowing that soon enough we'd be finally be meeting our little."
"Oh I was just thinking about this last night! My second came so fast we didn't have time for anything (she was born within 10 minutes of getting to the hospital). No drugs, no monitors, nothing, and it was perfect. I remember saying, 'I want another contraction' as the nurse told me to push one more time and it came and I was so grateful and she was here. It was just amazing experiencing what my body could accomplish. My first took a little longer so I got the epidural. Also, I was super grateful that I got to poop before the birth and not on the table!"