When asking other moms about their childbirth experiences, I learned I shouldn’t expect to be quite myself during labor. That didn’t surprise me, as my first time journey into motherhood was brand new territory for me. However, what I wasn’t prepared for were the thoughts I had about my spouse while in the throes of labor. I definitely fired off some insults when the pain of my contractions shot up, and there were even worse things I wanted to say to my husband, but didn’t. Turns out, that was a good thing because I am not sure our marriage would have recovered from me hurling some brutal barbs in those lapses in judgment that can only occur when you’re experience some next-level childbirth hell.
I’d like to think he would have forgiven me if I really started the sh*t talk in the delivery room. However, whether it would have rolled off his back or not, I’m glad it never got to that point. I didn’t go out of my way to sugarcoat the pain I was experiencing, or to “protect” him from my anguish. I wanted him to know I was more than a little uncomfortable. But even through the pain, I knew that unloading every dramatic thought I was having about him during labor was not a means to an end. I was hurting, and I was angry about it, but it would be grossly misplacing my wrath if I directed it at him with such vehemence. I wasn’t going to be nice, but I wasn’t going to say such horrible things that he’d start questioning if I’d actually make a good mom when this baby finally got out of my body.
I don’t apologize for having these thoughts, because that would be discounting the intense state I was in that allowed me to safely deliver my kids into the world. But I am very glad I kept it together enough to at least not say these things to my husband when I was in labor (even though, at the time, I really wanted to):
"Look What You Did"
While this phrase has the potential to be uttered with sheer wonder and sweetness, I would have spewed it out in a stream of venomous hate. My body was being ripped apart because of his sperm (and my egg), and despite the fact that this was very much a planned pregnancy and wanted child, the torture of labor was all his fault.
"Get Up And Stop Being Comfortable"
Looking at him in that reclining chair, able to get up and move around and pee as he pleased, really irritated me. Yes, he was willing to do whatever he could to make me more comfortable as I labored towards the birth of his child, but seeing him unfettered by contractions or IVs stuck in his arms made me seethe.
"Can You Check If I Just Peed In This Bed?"
With both of my deliveries, I was given Pitocin to speed up labor. That led to me getting epidurals, because my contractions came on fast and furiously once I was induced. So I needed a catheter after becoming numb from the waist down. There might have been pee before I got all hooked up. I will never know.
"Put. The. Camera. Away."
In hindsight, I love having pictures from the delivery room. It was one of the biggest events in our lives, and we wanted to document it. Having said that, I struggled with realizing that at the time, especially when I was sporting a gnarly hospital gown and hadn’t showered in two days.
"Sugar-Free Ice Pops, Really?"
I know my husband was trying to do the right thing. He ran out to get me ice pops, since the hospital wouldn’t allow me to eat any true solid foods while I was in labor. But did he actually think I was remotely concerned about the calorie count at this point? And you know what the difference is between sugar-free and regular ice pops? Not that many calories, and a whole lot of flavor. I ate them anyway.
"Stop Telling Me I’m Doing Great"
I trust my partner was being sincere when he was filling my ears with encouragement through the contractions. But, really, what else was he going to say? Was he going to suggest I could be doing better? I mean, get creative. It’s the least he could do while I’m being turned inside out during labor.
Good thing I knew better than to criticize his words of praise that first time around, because I would have missed hearing them when I went into labor with my second kid.
"I Know You Think You’re Really Being Helpful By Holding My Leg, But You’re Not"
Oh the leg holding. Is this the lamest job ever that a partner could have to help a laboring woman? I feel like this task was invented by male doctors who felt bad that soon-to-be-dads were feeling so useless while their female partners were taking on the brunt of the whole ordeal. Also, there would be no leg-holding necessary if laboring women could give birth by squatting, instead of lying on their backs.
"This Is The Worst Thing I’ve Ever Had To Do And You’ll Never Understand What’s It Like"
I wanted to say this so badly. However, not only would it have never sufficed to use these mere words to accurately communicate the physical and emotional experience of birthing a baby, but it would have only served to make my husband feel like sh*t. As much as I wanted to let him know how he could never "get me" in this way, I knew it would have horrible repercussions in our relationship. There is no response he could have given me, other than “I know.” And then what? It is not his fault he is not biologically equipped to carry and deliver a child. I can’t blame him for what he can’t control.
"Sorry I Said Some Things"
So while these are all the things I didn’t say, I did blurt out a few rude remarks during the course of my labor and delivery. Politeness is not a requirement for a laboring mother, though, so I can’t regret any of the shade I threw at my husband while I pushing a person out of me. While I recognize I was not kind to him in these last moments before our child entered the world, I also recognize I don’t owe him an apology. It took me, really, until I was in labor to understand how much apologizing I have done in my life, because I feared someone might not like what I said and even in circumstances where my hard truth was fully justified. Letting my pissed off stream of consciousness exit my mouth during labor was actually helpful. It was a release that I needed to work through the pain.
I was a b*tch.
I am not sorry.