The fact that women are able to give birth and bring tiny humans into the world is a beautiful, amazing phenomena. However, I think the actual act of giving birth is not-so beautiful. I think giving birth is pretty gross. And I say this as someone who's given birth twice via c-section. I've tried so hard to see what other people see when they're describing birth as "beautiful" and "brilliant." I understand how it can be life-changing, and I can understand how it might blow someone's mind to witness a birthing woman bring a child into the world, but giving birth also makes me cringe and, on a personal level, it doesn't fill me with any kind of wonder whatsoever.
I've seen a handful of births. Some I've photographed, others I've seen from videos friends have shared of their own births. When people point how perfect and beautiful the experience is, all I can focus on is the fact that that the floor, bed, tub — wherever they're giving birth — is now completely covered in blood and other fluids. I get frustrated when people talk about "natural" births because it's a term I think is polarizing and isolating. Often, I feel like, only "natural" births (unmedicated labor and delivery) are the only ones people can find "beautiful" and so "amazing," as if medical interventions and c-section deliveries are somehow "unnatural," and, by association, unappealing. I've struggled to understand how a baby covered in your body's fluids is a beautiful thing to behold. Perhaps the experience on its own is uplifting, because bringing life into the world is all kinds of magical, but even though I really only have my own experiences to go off of, I don't find labor and delivery all that appealing.
The first time I ever understood what it meant to give birth was after my cousin gave birth to her son. My mom had taken photos and for some reason thought that it was a good idea to show me and my younger sister, even though we were only 14 and 15 at the time. I saw all of the photos from the labor and delivery room, with all that blood coming out of my cousin. I couldn't un-see her face scrunched up in pain as beads of sweat poured down her head. My mom kept saying, "Isn't this amazing?!" and my sister and I looked at each other absolutely horrified. Giving birth looked nothing like we'd see it on TV and nothing like we'd imagined birth to be. So at 15, I made the decision to not have children. I'd spent my whole childhood planning my life out. But when I got home that day, I hid that notebook in the closet, swearing off children forever. There was no way I was ever going to purposefully put myself through the violent scene I'd just witnessed.
At one point my mom came to sit with me for awhile and asked me how I was doing. I begged her to take me home because I didn't want to be in the hospital anymore. I told her that I didn't think I could go through with this — that I could really, truly, actually birth a baby.
Of course, I ended up changing my mind about children. I met a person I felt I could build a life with and he was also someone I wanted to raise children with. When I got pregnant, it was a surprise to us both, and I was instantly filled with fear. I felt like I was transported back to that afternoon on my cousin's couch, and I brought my legs together as if I could feel the pain she'd gone through. I avoided the threads about birth on every pregnancy site I read. I skipped that section completely in my pregnancy book. I did read about ways to help make my birth easier, so I did my Kegels religiously, ran as much as I could, and did more squats than I'd ever done in my life. But I did my best to avoid thinking about delivery. At that point, I knew that I'd to give birth some way, so I kind of accepted the baby was going to eventually come out. I just didn't want to think of how.
I ended up having a cesarean, which essentially involved my doctors cutting me open, maneuvering some of my organs to the side, and then taking out my daughter. When I saw the pictures and the video that my then-husband had taken of the whole experience, I was horrified. I haven't looked at them since.
I was induced the week of Thanksgiving and felt excited and ready to meet our baby. But I was anxious about the birthing process, worried about what was going to happen to my body. I tried to stay calm by watching movies and making jokes, but my labor never progressed on its own. At one point my mom came to sit with me for awhile and asked me how I was doing. I begged her to take me home because I didn't want to be in the hospital anymore. I told her that I didn't think I could go through with this — that I could really, truly, actually birth a baby. She just looked at me with a very serious face and said, "Well, it's much too late for that. You should've thought about this before you got pregnant."
When the time came to finally deliver, I ended up having a cesarean, which essentially involved my doctors cutting me open, maneuvering some of my organs to the side, and then taking out my daughter. When I saw the pictures and the video that my then-husband had taken of the whole experience, I was horrified. I haven't looked at them since.
To be fair, I love that so many women love giving birth, that they find it to be such a beautiful, empowering experience. I don't disagree with that, and honestly, to each their own. I do, however, find giving birth to be absolutely disgusting — the amount of blood and fluid that is capable of coming out of my body while giving birth and after birth? No thanks. But feeling this way doesn't take away from the overall beauty of my experience, or anyone else's for that matter.
When I talk about getting pregnant again in the future, I shiver at the thought of giving birth. I'd honestly rather be pregnant for twice as long if it meant I didn't have to deliver. My c-sections weren't even horrific — I didn't even have to see anything that I didn't want to — but that doesn't mean that I thought the birthing part was less disgusting.