the one about the stages of childbirth

Disclaimers:
1. This post is not for men of any age. If you are a male, and you decide to disregard this warning because your curiosity has gotten the best of you, I cannot be held responsible for whatever happens to your mind following this post. This will not be another, "Oh, I dumped hot coffee on my hand and burned it so I'm going to sue McDonald's" kind of thing. Just as long as we're clear...

2. I am speaking from my own two experiences of childbirth, in addition to the experiences of a lot of my friends and family members. When a group of mothers gets together, it is only a matter of time before the conversation shifts to expelling children from our bodies. It could be a wedding, funeral, holiday, fancy dinner, or shopping trip...we will end up talking about you-know-what. Just because my/our experiences were like this, it doesn't mean your experience was or will be like this.

Deep breath.

Whatever meal you're eating...you may want to save it for later.

I present to you The Stages of Childbirth.

I'm married to a doctor, and I'm pretty sure there are actual medical stages of childbirth, such as active labor, something called "transition" that you want to know nothing about, pushing, and then giving birth to your surprise baby called the placenta. I call it the surprise baby because no one really told me that after I had already pushed my brains out to deliver my actual baby, that I would have to push some more to deliver the placenta. And believe me, saying the word "placenta" is nowhere near is disgusting as actually seeing it. When given the option to look-- don't. Just don't.

But, this may surprise you to learn, I am not a doctor. I am merely self-taught in my vast medical knowledge. I like to put things in terms that lay people can understand, so I think you might find my version of the stages of childbirth a little more informative...and entertaining.

Stage One: The TMI Stage

Really, your entire pregnancy is just full of TMI = too much information. You are asked the most embarrassing questions from your first doctor's appointment to the last. Your husband will listen to you tell the nurse you haven't pooped in 8 days. He will let his eyes wander to the impossibly high number that the nurse scribbled down under the word "weight." He will overhear you tell your doctor that your nipples feel weird. It's all very TMI. But up until that point, it has all stayed between you, your husband, and your nurse and doctor.

But when the first stage of childbirth arrives, something will come over you. You will start sharing the most grotesque facts about your body with the entire universe. A lady will make innocent conversation with you in the checkout lane, simply asking you when you are due, and you will say something like this:

"Well, I'm due tomorrow, and my doctor stripped my membranes today, so really I am going to go into labor at any second."

Stripped your membranes. Really? You just told a stranger that your doctor did what? TMI.

As if making perfect strangers queasy with your membrane talk wasn't bad enough, you will take it to the next level.

Social media.

You won't even realize you're doing it, but you will end up writing out a Facebook status that says this:

"I'm 39 weeks, 3 days, and I'm 4 centimeters dilated, 80% effaced, and the doctor said he could feel my baby's head through my cervix. It's going to be any minute!"

There are certain words that have no business being on Facebook. Dilated. Effaced. Cervix. You know this, but the fog surrounding your brain in this first stage of childbirth impedes any judgment or filter you may have, and you just decide that it is better for the entire world to picture what your baby maker looks like in vivid detail.

T to the M to the I. End of Stage One.

Stage Two: The Giselle Bundchen Stage

Don't get excited. This doesn't mean that all of a sudden you will morph into a Victoria's Secret model in your final hours of pregnancy. What this stage describes is an altered state of mind that you experience just prior to any real pain starting. Let's say you're feeling mild contractions and contemplating your birth plan. You originally planned on an epidural in the hospital setting, but you're in The Giselle Bundchen Stage now. You get ahold of yourself, look in the mirror, and you say,

"I'm a woman. Women have been having babies naturally for centuries. This doesn't even hurt. I don't need an epidural. Hell, I don't even need a hospital! That's right. I'm going to have this baby in my bathtub, Giselle Bundchen style. Yes. I'm going to show all the other women who rely on pain medication just how weak they really are. I am a bad ass...an all-natural Kashi granola eating bathtub birthing bad ass."

You entertain this thought for about 4 minutes until the first real contraction hits you, and then you are crying Uncle. Off to the hospital you go to the land of epidurals and fairies and unicorn dust.

Stage Three: The Community Crotch Stage

Doesn't this stage sound awesome? So once you are at the hospital and taken to your room, you will be asked to change into a gown. When I was in labor with my first daughter, I went to the bathroom to change and had a 3 minute debate with myself about whether to leave my underwear on. I am actually a pretty modest person (or maybe I should say, was a pretty modest person), and I just didn't know if I was ready to let it all hang out. In hindsight, it's pretty hilarious to picture me trying to push a baby out with my underwear still on.

Anyway-- I opted to go commando, and it's a good thing I did, because literally 1.3 seconds after I got cozy in the hospital bed, a nurse I didn't even know started yanking off blankets, lifting up my gown, hooking me up to monitors and whatnot.

It's nice to meet you, too.

Then, five minutes later, a different nurse or student came in, fluffed up the gown a little, and now the count of people who had seen the undercarriage had grown exponentially.

Lo and behold, The Community Crotch Stage.

Your parts no longer belong to you. They belong to the hospital. You will be looked at, surveyed, and examined, a lot, and the sooner you come to terms that everyone, including the cafeteria workers and registration people, will know what you're working with under that sweet gown, the sooner you can "enjoy" your stay. And by "enjoy," I mean visualizing the first meal you will eat upon the birth of this child.

Stage Four: The I Changed My Mind Stage

Now it's getting down to the nitty gritty. At some point between the 31st and 39th person to view your crotch, you will have made significant progress. The 40th person will come in, check you, and announce, "You're complete! Let's get ready to push!"

At this moment, reality sets in, and you realize that giant hump of a baby belly is going to somehow squeeze and contort itself through and out of your nanny-business, and it's probably going to hurt.

So, you say the only logical response.

"I changed my mind!"

Number 40 will chuckle and tell you that it's too late for that now. At about that time, a person you recognize as your doctor will walk into your room in something that looks like a hazmat suit, gloved up to the elbow and wearing rain boots and eye goggles.

Shit just got real.

You'll try to make deals with the nursing staff, like if they let you go home right now, you'll bring them coffee for a month. More chuckling in your direction lets you know that changing your mind is not an option.

It's time for Stage Five.

Stage Five: The I'm Doing It! I'm Doing It! Stage (can also be referred to as The Don't Let Me Poop Stage)

Because no one is going to let you waddle out of the hospital with a baby between your legs, you decide to just go ahead and start pushing.

The first couple of pushes seem oddly familiar. Oh yes, this is what it feels like to poop.

Interesting.

No, not interesting. Terrifying! What if you poop? What if #14 the cute resident and #23 the pre-pubescent med student witness you crapping into that bag hooked onto the end of the table like the horse pulling a carriage around Monument Circle? Not to mention your husband! Hasn't that man been through enough?

You decide to attempt pushing the baby while clenching your butt together. This really is a bad idea. I can tell you from experience that this little charade earned me 4 hours of pushing time with my first daughter. Rookie mistake.

Push hard or go home. Shit happens.

As you're nearing the climax of this stage, you realize something. You don't need to eat Kashi granola or give birth in a bathtub to be a bad ass (and it's totally OK if you're into that type of thing). The fact that you are bringing a child into this world, however you're doing it, either naturally, with pain meds, or via c-section, is so incredibly awesome. Take a minute in this stage to realize that.

Stage Six: The Community Boobs Stage

Really, what comes next is The Surprise Baby Stage, but I already covered that, so now we're going to move on to The Community Boobs Stage. Similar to The Community Crotch Stage, your boobs will become everyone's property. As soon as your little nugget is presented to you, someone will be there to rip off half of your gown like basketball warm-up pants and throw the little angel on you to start feeding.

And you know what? You won't care at this point because you're so thrilled to have your baby in your arms, you're so relieved that your legs are no longer sticking up in the air, and you lost any dignity you had a long time ago.

There will be lactation consultants who may just come in and put your baby in your shirt. Yes, this happened to me. Nurses may come in to check how the baby is feeding or literally give you a hand, if you know what I mean. They all mean well and are trying to help, so try not to be offended. I think upon the birth of my third child, I am going to post a sign that says $5 to Look, $10 to Touch, just for some crowd control.

Stage Seven: The Amnesia Stage

It's really strange, but the last stage of childbirth doesn't begin until a few months after your baby is born. All of a sudden, you will begin to forget all of the crazy, painful, embarrassing, and scary things that occurred while you brought your child into the world. The details will become a little fuzzy. Your crotch will actually stop hurting and you can sit normally again.

This stage can last anywhere from several months to several years...until you find yourself in labor with baby #2. I think it's God's little gift to us so that we will keep procreating.

Of course, the amnesia is only temporary. Eventually you remember everything, and most days, it's totally worth it. For the other days...there's wine.

2 comments

  1. Haha haha! Peeing. And scared. Can I go back? :)

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  2. Yes! So uh, I think your count is about right for how many people will see you totally naked. And I just didn't even care by that point. At all.

    I also was really, really annoyed at the placenta pushing stage.

    But maybe this is just me, but after each kid I peed and had to measure my pee, and it was a lot. I had multiple 32 ounce pees. What!

    And the lochia! I just didn't even realize.

    I will say this. I know you are expecting your third and that is great! My third baby is now 9 months old. There weren't any real surprises by baby number 3, except that I didn't tear or swell up bad or have as much bleeding. It was a little easier than the other two, and I had complications with all three.

    Also, home life with three is way easier than I expected. Not easy easy. Just better than my worst nightmare. We have fun and my big two are reasonably helpful.

    You got this, lady.

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