When you're nearing the end of your pregnancy, on the brink of no longer sharing your body, and you're this close to meeting the kid who's been camping out in your uterus, crossing the finish line is really all you can think about. Then labor finally starts...and all you can think about is how much giving birth hurts and how much it sort of sucks. But that's OK! Actually (and I'm not just saying this to make you feel better because I don't even know you) if you hated giving birth, I'm right there with you. You aren't alone in feeling stood up by that OB you spent almost a year with (I did not tell you that you could go on vacation, ma'am), or experiencing the uncomfortable comfort of an epidural. And if you opted for the drug-free route, well...there are so many valid reasons why you might not have been totally in love with how giving birth felt.
And if you had a c-section, I mean, you had major abdominal surgery. Other than the cute baby at the end, what's to like? As if it wasn't enough that you share your body with a growing human for nine months (give or take a few weeks), you get to spend a decent couple of weeks (OK, years, if we're being honest) afterward trying to come back to the real world. Have you ever tried to go to the bathroom after a c-section? Yeah, there's no such thing as standing up straighter than 90 degrees in that situation.
Don't get me wrong: My son is nothing short of a smaller, cooler version of myself. And if one more person tells me that it was "all worth it," I swear... Because the whole birthing process isn't easy for many of us. In fact, it's traumatic for a lot of women, or even just "merely" terrifically difficult, painful, and uncomfortable for a great many others. The idea that we're all supposed to bravely, without hesitation, mark into the delivery room, and the march out — no matter what happened during labor and birth — saying, "Oh, it doesn't matter at all because here's my baby," is an incredibly damaging one for women — because what if what happened in that room does matter to you in the days, weeks, and even years afterward? Does that mean you don't love your baby? Isn't that what we're implying here? That because the joy of having your child isn't sufficient to make you love giving birth, that you're somehow a heartless she-beast who will probably eat her young?
Clearly, this is all bulls**t. A lot of us didn't love giving birth, and that fact has nothing to do with who we are as parents, or how we feel about our kids. And if that's the case for you, then you can most definitely consider yourself in solid company. Here are 15 reasons why it's totally fine if you hated the whole giving birth thing.
1. Pushing A Human Being Our Of Your Body Is Hard Work
Seriously, just think about those words and what they entail. There is a reason it's called "labor." No matter how much drugs you get, it isn't going to be easy.
2. Major Surgery Is Freaking Terrifying
Because at its core, that's what a c-section is: surgery. Scary, unavoidable surgery that results in a tiny human that's all yours, but still...surgery.
3. Having All Of Those People See Your Vagina (And Possibly Your Literal Insides) Is Super Vulnerable
When I had my son, I first spent about three hours doing the pushing thing. Which meant dealing with all sorts of doctors and nurses taking generous looks at my vagina. After a while, this became strangely normal, but still, not something I loved.
4. There Needs To Be A Numbing Shot For The Numbing Shot
The epidural is all well and good, but no one tells you how terrifying and painful it is to actually have the serious shot poked into your spinal region. Into your spinal region. NO THANK YOU PLEASE.
5. Recovery (Isn't Always But Totally) Can Be A Nightmare
After having a last-minute c-section, I was just happy to have labor over with. But I had no idea that it would take a week to be able to navigate stairs and drive on my own, and that it would be another several weeks before I got used to the way my stomach just sort of sat there, all insanely soft-like.
6. Even If Your Worst Fears Don't Come True, Confronting The Possibility That They Would Is No Fun
Even if it's something minor like pooping while pushing (because pooping in front of strangers is so minor) or pushing so hard through contractions that you upchuck all over the place, a la The Exorcist.
7. There Are Far Too Many Machines To Stay Hooked Up To
A machine to monitor your heart, one for the baby's heart, your I.V. cart. And then you have to wheel it all into the bathroom somehow every single time you have to pee. No thanks!
8. Nothing Says "Get This Baby Out" Like Impatient Nurses
I know some people are super blessed with the best L&D nurses...but some of us are not. And I get it: Nurses tend to work long shifts, and their work is exhausting, but the last thing I need while dealing with my multi-day labor is to have insensitive nurses with zero bedside manner making me feel like I'm failing to deliver my baby fast enough, or am not willing enough to give up control over my birth to "the professionals" who just want to turn over beds.
9. Oh, Also, Getting A Baby Out Hurts
Maybe you haven't heard, but birthing a baby hurts. I know, this is totally shocking information. But I mean, I'm sorry, if we're going to talk "reasons why it's fine to not love childbirth," let's not skip over the main reason: It f**king hurts. Up until you opt for that epidural (if you even choose to at all; some of you are actual heroes), it's like a constant menstrual cramp that actually feels about a thousand times worse than that.
10. Not Being Able To Shower For What May Be, Like, 72 Hours
Like I said, for me, giving birth lasted a good three days. And that whole time, I was unable to shower. Afterward, when I could barely stand up all of the way because of my awesome c-section wound, I finally got to shower, and by then, I was so gross. And no one feels good when they feel gross.
11. Waiting Is Pretty Much The Worst
If you aren't a person who likes waiting, labor might not be your game. Sure, some women have lightning-fast deliveries (jealous of your journey, ladies) but for so many of us, giving birth means "waiting forever to give birth." You get to have doctors come in and out, repeatedly checking your hardly dilating cervix, while friends and family also come in and out. The operative word being out. As in, they get to leave, while you get to stay confined to the bed, still waiting.
12. I Mean, You Can Hate Whatever You Want
Giving birth hurts, and it's messy, and sometimes a process that, for many of us, seems to take for-freaking-ever. And you're totally allowed to hate the whole thing, because honestly, who actually loves it all? And also, you're a complex, beautiful, interesting human, and not everything you do is going to perfectly suit your tastes and skills and preferences. That doesn't mean you can't kick ass at it, and it definitely doesn't mean you can't adore everything that comes after giving birth. It's like, you don't have to love running to love the way it benefits your heart. And the end result is a super-sweet baby to love on and take care of. It might be totally worth the whole ordeal, but no one ever said you had to love giving birth. So, feel very free not to.