Why write this post you may ask. I presume men have been jesting about howling birthing women long before we could imagine. However, I am taking time to speak on the matter because I have earned my stripes. I am a mother of six children and one on the way, just around the corner. I have birthed six of my children and miscarried three others. Every pregnancy has been precious to me and almost every one has been traumatic to some degree. I do not continue to have children because I enjoy the labor process, although I have one good labor experience. You see I have been told that some women labor stronger than others. I do not have long and slow deliveries. I have had some long ones in the mix, but they have been equally painful for a longer period. I typically have fast and furious labors. As a matter of fact I will describe my fastest labor to you.
Before I go on, a note to men: I am writing this because my husband committed thee faux paux of making fun of me this week and I will get to that after I tell my story.
“It was the early morning and I was in bed when I felt the urge to go to the restroom. It didn’t take me long to realize that my water broke, but it was just a trickle. I was not concerned about it and I called my midwife. She advised me to come in. I was not having any labor symptoms at all. I called my babysitter who arrived within 20 minutes. I can remember that day so clearly. My babysitter walked in the door and I was just about to greet her when my first contraction hit without a warning and sent me to my knees!” All of the sudden we went to panic mode! I will never forget that drive it was 30 minutes to the hospital down a winding highway. With every contraction came gushes of water that were being squeezed out with every contraction. I was in pain, unbearable pain. My husband was speeding and got us there in record time. Just as soon as I got into the wheelchair I felt like PUSHING and push I did just moments after getting on the hospital bed. We just made it to the hospital in time. Afterward my body was in shock from such a fast and furious delivery. I bled a lot and there were concerns of me hemorrhaging. The staff was finally able to stabilize the bleeding and all was well.”
I should mention my first delivery which was only 3 hours from start to finish. The memorable part of that labor was when my water broke in the hospital in the delivery room. My contractions were so fierce and powerful that my water bag actually made a huge POP sound that was heard from my friend coming down the hall to check on me! My doctor who had delivered hundreds of babies said my delivery was going down as unique.
I know pain and I know it well. I never use epidurals or strong pain medication, not because I am trying to be some kind of hero or wonder woman , but because I am a realist and I know that there are risks that come with using pain deferring medications. I was sick for 10 years with extreme food allergies and intolerances. I also almost lost a brother after he had an allergic reaction to anesthesia which is hereditary. So, I cannot say that I haven’t been tempted to use pain management, because I surely have. However, the risk seems too great for me and so I tough it out the best I can.
Childbirth for me is just as beautiful, as it is traumatizing for me. I am a very focused person when I am laboring and it is an extremely spiritual experience for me. However, the pain is so excruciating and so real that weeks before I give birth I find myself becoming overwhelmed with fear of the pain. I have to mentally prepare myself to take the journey. I come equipped with music that speaks to my soul and scriptures of strength. It is just me and my Lord during that time and I have had nursing staff and delivery staff say it is a beautiful sight to behold and that is a glory to God.
Enter in men and their inability to empathize with women and their suffering during labor. I don’t say that to demean, but they just can’t know or fully understand. It is not their pain to endure. My husband is a wonderful husband and he is thoughtful. He doesn’t fit any stereotypical description of the American man. He is devoted and a good father.
However, I write because in an effort to make a joke he picked the wrong subject. He has joked about me laboring twice since my last baby was born, fit with bemoaning sounds and then a chuckle. However, I let it slide because I was not pregnant at the time and I realize he just doesn’t understand. To his consequence, however, out of the blue when we were not even talking about the baby or birthing he found an opportunity to say a joke about me laboring fit with sound effects. Gasp!
Ok I was upset. Why? Can’t a man make a joke you say? This is my response.
In just a short time I will be in labor and in excruciating pain. I will feel the urge to cry out or do whatever it is that I need to do and in the back of my mind I will have the thought of his comment, humiliation will come over me and stress will take over. He realized immediately with my reaction that he was really, really wrong. However, the damage was done. He asked for my forgiveness. However, his actions did come with consequence. He broke fellowship with me and sowed a seed of doubt in my mind that he might secretly be thinking I look silly while I am in pain
Intimacy was broken and having him in the labor room seemed like a real issue, knowing he might be laughing inside because I might be making sounds that were funny to him. This might obstruct and slow down the labor process for me because of the undo stress. He was down about it and so was I, but labor pains are real and so is pain management through mental pathways. A birthing mom should be able to be free to cry out and this should not be taken from her.
Labor can be down right traumatic and scary if it is a hard labor. My midwife Alice has been more than a midwife to me. She has been a mentor and a friend and a soul sister. She has comforted me during labor and I have built a strong relationship with her, but now I am away from her. So, I need my husband now more than ever.
“Coarse and foolish talking or crude joking are not suitable, but rather giving thanks.” Ephes 5:4 When he shared his crude joke it took the breath right out of me. I have thick skin and I am not easily affected by insults etc. However, this cut into my very being and added to the undo stress about labor. I guess my issue is this: I already feel so silly about some of my momentary breakdowns and I already feel helpless and humiliated because I do not feel strong enough to endure sometimes. This just fed that whole mindset.
So in an effort to stop a husband who is wonderful like mine from making a BIG mistake: I say this, “Please do not make the same mistake and alienate your wife during a time that she needs you the most.” My husband is still wonderful in my eyes, but giving birth is a very intimate thing and this is one area that has been hindered.
Today I watched a video on Youtube about an experiment two Dutch men conducted in an effort to simulate the labor experience. After the experience was over one of the men said that now that he knows how bad it hurts, he wasn’t sure if he could get his wife pregnant and put her through the pain. The other man, cried “uncle” and opted out because it was too painful to bare so he couldn’t not finish the two hour challenge!
So to men I say this, “Giving birth is no laughing matter”. As much as you may want to laugh about it there is real pain involved please be courteous to your women who give you such a precious gift.
I leave you with a video of two American men who did the same challenge. I will let the results speak for themselves. Now, if only they had a reality show were you could nominate your husband to the challenge. I think we would have a lot less men joking about the process….
For those of you who know my husband you are free to console him, because he still is a great guy…. most of the time 🙂
I realize I am possibly painting a picture for you all that is not balanced enough, so I wrote part 2 to this blog post HERE
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