First of all, thank you for trusting me with the story of what's probably one of the biggest days of your life. My own son's birth ranks up there with the day I met my partner, the day we eventually married, and my attendance at the NKOTBSB tour in 2011, so please know that I'm humbled that you'd be willing to share yours with me. I cannot, however, promise that I'll be able to turn off my inner monologue, because there will most certainly be things I'm thinking while listening to your birth story. However, I will do my best to channel my elementary school manners and be a good listener while you're sharing all the intense, emotional, possibly gory, definitely incredible details.
Perhaps I'm especially sensitive to other birth stories because I'm currently pregnant with my second baby. No matter how hard I try, there's a realness factor I simply can't shake when it comes to the nitty gritty details that I hear from other moms. Before I know it, I will be experiencing another labor and delivery, so these stories just feel, well, personal (and potentially ominous, depending).
Though I've already been through childbirth myself, logically I know that all births are different. In other words,I know I can't expect that same experience all over again. I'm still susceptible to nerves and fears, as well as optimism and excitement. So, you can assume that, while I'm listening to you, my mind is being bombarded by the following things:
Why Are You Telling Me This?
I don’t mean this in a snarky way, mind you. Honestly, I’m genuinely curious. Like, are you looking for support? Do you want want to feel heard? Are you warning me? Are you trying to make me feel better about the impending day when my own body turns itself inside out and bears a child? Where is this conversation going, really? Who are you? What is life?
Oh, what? Sorry, I got distracted. Pregnancy brain. Seriously though, what should I be getting from this conversation?
Why Did You Make Those Choices?
These days, parents have more than a few options when it comes to how they want and/or decide to bring their baby into the world. So, I often talk to other moms who made choices that were very different from the ones I made when it came to birthing my son, and from those I plan to make for the birth of my second child in a couple of months.
While I try my hardest to refrain from judging those choices, sometimes I do wonder what the motivation for such choices might be, in a generally-curious-I-swear-I’m-not-going-shame-you kind of way.
I Would Never Do It That Way
For example, a friend recently told me that a particular member of her extended family accompanied her in the delivery room. I was super impressed at her generosity when it came to sharing that moment, and slightly stunned because I would never have my corresponding family member in that room with me (unless we were in the midst of, like, a zombie apocalypse, and my delivery room was the only locking door in the area).
However, even though “I’d never do it that way!” can and does cross my mind when hearing about other birth stories, I try really, really hard to keep any and all judgments to myself, because it’s totally not my place. Every woman and every birth is different, so just because I didn't do something a particular way doesn't mean it wasn't the perfect way for someone else.
I Would Totally Do It That Way
On the other hand, it’s nice to hear your choices or views validated by someone else. This particular thought is one I wouldn't hesitate to offer if a mom shared some similar views, or had a similar experience as mine. I mean, what’s the point of going through labor and delivery if you can’t laugh about what happened to your placenta with other women who totally understand?
Are You Sure You’re Remembering It Correctly?
Again, I know I have no room to judge. However, the mom who said she left the hospital two days after birth, feeling awesome and weighing less than she had before she got pregnant? Um, yeah. I do have a few questions about that.
OMG I Didn’t Even Know It Was Possible
I’m going to offer minimal details on this one, in case there are some fellow pregnant women reading. I don’t want to put you through the same emotions I recently experienced.
So, let’s just say that a dear friend just shared with me a very specific and utterly shocking detail about what happened to some of her organs during her childbirth experience, and I was totally flummoxed by what she described. They say that knowledge is power, but in this case, knowledge was confusing and startling.
I’m Definitely Going To Go Down An Internet Rabbit Hole Reading About What You’re Describing
Google is every pregnant woman’s Regina George: a best friend and a worst enemy at the same time. I love having answers to all my questions at my fingertips. At the same time, sometimes those answers make me question my life choices or throw my phone out the window.
I Wish You Would Skip To The End
Not to be rude, but I would much, much rather hear about the moment the baby was placed in your arms than about the extra body fluids you excreted when pushing. However, after I get through my own upcoming labor, I’ll be totally down to commiserate a bit more, I promise. Just, well, let me get past it first, please.
Everything Is Amazing And You Are Awesome And I Am So Proud Of You
I mean, no matter how it played out or how many choices I do or don’t agree with, this is really the bottom line. I can keep my opinions to myself and let you relive your incredible (or perhaps traumatic) labor and delivery experience, support you for a few extra minutes, and celebrate the fact that you brought a human into this world.