Monday, January 28, 2013

"Would you do it again?"

In "Do You Like Being Pregnant?"  I speculated that I would be willing to do the pregnancy thing another one, maybe two times, but that I couldn't speak for the actual birthing part, yet.  Before the memory of Abby's birth got washed in the haze of precious newborn nostalgia, I wanted to take an honest look at the experience and ask myself, "Would I do this again?"  I made sure to ask myself this before I even left the hospital, because I know women notoriously somehow "forget" the pain of childbirth, which I can't really imagine.  Six weeks out, and, no, I haven't forgotten.  If you think of that pain scale that medical professionals always ask you to use to rate your pain, I've tried to imagine what a "10" would be.  Getting shot?  Getting dunked in acid?  Maybe having acid poured into your gunshot wound?

I will tell you, happily, labor is not as painful as acid in a gunshot wound, or even just getting shot.  Or, I should say, since I've never been shot, I don't think it is.  But the "crowning" (when baby's head actually makes the exit into the world) was definitely the worst pain I've ever experienced, so I would give it around an eight, I think.  I was one of those women in the movies, whose screaming terrified the poor women in the rest of the maternity wing, just starting their labor.  I probably inspired more women to go for the epidural than not.

I wanted to write this down, because I don't ever want to fool myself into thinking it didn't hurt, or that it was easy.

Despite the fact that labor and delivery were hard, I would do it again.  Even without medication.  I know I could look at it like, "Ok, you did it.  You proved you could do it; you've experienced it - so why not make it a little easier on yourself next time?"  Instead, though, knowing that I can do it makes me want to do it again.  Besides, they say the second birth is usually easier, and I at least have a vague idea of what to expect this time. (Yes, I know, every birth is different).  And, when it was over, it was over.

That's not to say I wouldn't do some things differently.  Next time, I'll know that those cramps aren't gas, and even if they might be Braxton Hicks contractions, when they start, I am going to crawl into bed and sleep until I can't sleep anymore.  Nothing to lose if I'm wrong and it's not active labor, but at least I'll be rested.  Same with eating.  I will have a huge, nutritious meal before I'm too sick and in pain to enjoy it.  I think being exhausted and weak with hunger made my labor much longer and harder than it needed to be, so I would do what I could to avoid that.

I might also pack my hospital bag a little sooner, and make sure the hospital had all of our paperwork before we got there.

Do women actually "forget" the pain of childbirth?  I also know that not all women experience it as painful, not even those who forgo medication.  Am I close enough that I still remember, but the memory will fade with time?  Will I look back on this post and Abby's Birth Story and think, "Oh, it wasn't really that bad?"  From where I sit now, the notion of "forgetting" what childbirth is like sells women short.  I'd like to think more that we look past it, or decide it's worth it, or, that, compared to future trials, it's not really that bad. Moms who are more experienced than me, what do you think?

I already think of the pregnancy that way.  Shortly after we brought Abby home, I waxed nostalgic for the days when Abby was still in my belly, even though that meant I could barely roll over in bed at night or put on my shoes.  But more about that nostalgia, later.

Yay, you read the whole post!  Here's a picture of our family the day we got home from the hospital.


  1. I think that childbirth for women is our "war stories" moment. Even now I can still boost about my 32 hour labor without pain meds when I had Brennan. Sadly, after 32 hours I was rushed in for an emergency c-section and was put under so I don't remember anything else. I haven't forgotten how much pain I was in, but I did forget exactly what that pain felt like.

  2. A friend of mine here has had a couple of children, and told me there are specific hormones that are designed to help gloss over the pain of childbirth. They are apparently released shortly after birth. Perhaps this didn't happen for you? Her first birth was quite painful, but even a couple days later she said to her partner that it wasn't really all that bad and she'd do it again. He tried to remind her of what REALLY happened, but she honestly didn't remember how truly painful it had been.


What do you think?