Childbirth is a messy, painful, beautifully disgusting event. When I first found out about the whole pooping while giving birth thing, the idea was pretty mortifying. Then again, I was only about 10 years old and hearing about a friend's mother's birth story. "I pooped while giving birth. That's why her eyes are brown!" She laughed, I blanched. So to say there were more than a few things I wasn't prepared for when I pooped on the table during childbirth would be, by any and all accounts, a grand understatement.
My friend's mother's poop story has haunted me since the moment I heard it, if I'm being honest. I have always wanted kids, so I'd think about this random fact at bizarre times. I should also mention I'm quite prone to obsessive worrying. I would worry about pooping in labor while onstage in college (clarifying note: I was a theatre major and not at all pregnant). I would worry about pooping during childbirth while casually flirting with a cast mate. I would worry about pooping while giving birth while managing medical students' educational programming when I was 22 years old. None of these moments were anywhere near when I was actually pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or even considering planning a pregnancy. That is how anxious I was about pooping on the table.
What is that law called where you will always get the thing you want least? Well, I was pretty terrified when I was pregnant for the first time, convinced public pooping was in the cards for me. Still, I was not prepared for what actually happened when I pooped on the table.
Yes, I'm actually starting with this one.
People, it was hideous. Like nothing my olfactory senses have ever witnessed before. And let's face it, when does one ever push like the first time one gives birth? If you answered never, you're right!
Imagine all that bottom (or would it be top?) of the colon gore that is just sitting there. Your whole life it's just sitting there, waiting for when you push like your life depends on it. It's the gunk at the bottom of your engine. It's the pond scum that never gets clean. It's all the mistakes you've ever made, festering in the pits of your own body's bacteria-brewing hell. And it sure as sh*t smells like it.
Author's note: Description not based on actual body science.
The agony of the smell, because yes I am still going to fixate on that damn smell. You can not ever know until it happens to you.
When No One Cleaned It Up
This was pretty bizarre, if I do say so myself. In the unable-to-talk phase of labor, I became hyper-focused on the smell (as is illustrated above). I silently pleaded for the ability to talk so I could yell at someone to, for the love of all things holy, clean this sh*t up.
Later, my partner told me that he was motioned away from the "area" by the midwife with a silent head shake. She was telling him not to clean it up, and I was asphyxiating on deep bowel hell smell!
When My Partner Cleaned It Up
If you think anything else could show commitment and everlasting love more than cleaning up your partner's birthing poop, you'd be dead wrong.
When My Partner Continued To Talk About It. Forever.
My partner totally talked about it forever. If you get him going he'll still talk about it, and this was seven years ago. I was never really embarrassed, per say, just a little curious about the motivation behind the poop storytelling.
Then I noticed other people's partners talked about their table pooping, too! Perhaps he also had an obsession with table pooping. that he's so relieved to be through, that he must share the experience with everyone. Or perhaps he never even thought about birth pooping and he's experiencing the morbid fascination post-event that I experienced in the 29years leading up it. Who the hell knows.
When I Didn't Care
After all this worrying and working myself up into a dither, I thought I'd be mortified. Or at least something in the vicinity of mild embarrassment. It turns out, I didn't give a sh*t when I sh*t. Once the smell was gone, which thankfully happened due to the best life partner in the world, I didn't even think about the poop until the first time my partner told the story.
In fact, I cared so little that I don't even know whether or not I labor-pooped the next two times I gave birth.
When It Wasn't Gross
I had been so prepared for the mortification I felt upon first hearing about birth-pooping to come back when I actually experienced it. So when the lived experience was completely mundane? I was totally unprepared for that. Countless other things — arguably more gross — are going on during childbirth, that a little (or a lot) of poop is such a non-issue. It was not gross at all.
Well, once that smell was taken care of, anyway.