- 4 years ago
- Wedding: June 2012
All of our discussions about feminism over the past few days have gotten me thinking about something that’s been bothering me, and I hope that those discussions have also gotten you all primed to talk about this issue.
We’ve reached a point in society where it’s pretty okay to talk about pregnancy in a real way. Many pregnant women recommend books like The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy or Jenny McCarthy’s Belly Laughs, because these books humorously point out what it’s really like to be pregnant without glossing over all the ugly bits. And I’m glad that we’ve reached that point.
We’ve also reached a point where it’s okay to share a birth story – sort of. It’s okay to share that story in a limited way with a limited audience, and you probably do want to gloss over the ugly bits at least a little lest you be accused of oversharing. Because when it comes to birth, the truth is still considered ‘overshare.’ Lord knows my own birth story got its share of ridicule for the amount of detail I went into. For this I do not apologize.
But we still absolutely refuse to talk about what happens after we get home from the hospital. We don’t talk about what the next six weeks look like; we don’t talk about the problems and the joys of recovering from childbirth. Every birth story ends with “and then we held our precious baby and lived happily ever after, the end!”
My issue is, that isn’t the end of the story. That isn’t even half of the story. When I was pregnant, I read every birth story I could find. I probably read a hundred or more. But do you know how much information I managed to find about what happens after the hospital? Almost nothing. I read the infamous “lemon clot essay,” and I was damn glad to have found it, because I wasn’t even aware of the issues that story talked about. Clots the size of lemons? Boy, wouldn’t that have alarmed me to see if I hadn’t known about it ahead of time!
So I shared my own recovery story, hoping to reassure anyone who had read my birth story and thought “Jesus Christ that is the worst thing I can ever imagine and if that happened to me I would definitely never have any more kids.” I wanted to let everyone know that the recovery was quite simple and I was back to normal in no time. I think a lot of people appreciated that.
But a lot of other people didn’t appreciate that. Once again, I was ridiculed for “oversharing.” “TMI!” some people cried, as if it is even possible to have too much information about childbirth, an honestly frightening experience that many women will go through. If you were diagnosed with cancer, wouldn’t you want to read every single scrap of information you could find, so that you’d have a better idea what the road ahead of you looks like? How is it any different to provide that information to women preparing to go through childbirth??! I hardly called the thread “here are pictures of kittens” – the word ‘gruesome’ was right there in the title and if you chose to read it, you must have known what was coming.
So I wish we didn’t think it was “TMI” to talk about your recovery from whatever your birth experience looked like. How does one recover from a C-section? How is that recovery different if the C-section was planned versus if the C-section is an emergency surgery happening after 30 grueling hours of labor? How is it different if it’s your first time, or your fifth time, or if you’re 25 years old or 40, or if your baby is 5 pounds or 10? Does it make a difference if you push for twenty minutes or four hours? Does it make a difference if you have an epidural or if you go without??
I don’t know, and I don’t think I’m ever going to know because nobody wants to talk about it. We’re so conditioned to think that sharing that information is grotesque and unwanted, so only a sick exhibitionist like me would actually go to the trouble of typing it out. But is it really unwanted? Am I the only one who genuinely wants to know this information? I can’t be. I won’t believe it.
So here’s what I ask of all of you: if you’ve been willing to share your birth story, perhaps consider also sharing a follow-up story a couple of months post-partum. Let us know how long it took you to be back on your feet, to feel like you did before, to have sex (gasp!), to start exercising a little; let us know if your body bounced back to normal or if you think that baby weight might stick around. Tell us how that first post-partum poop went, if you’re brave enough! If we don’t start being willing to share this information, then women are going to have to keep heading into this process blind and terrified, and that, quite frankly, sucks.
If you’re too shy to share it here on the Bee (which I totally understand), maybe share it anonymously. Hell, you can send me your story and I’ll post it without your name if you prefer. But I can’t tell you how happy I’ll be to see a few “Update to ____’s birth story!” threads pop up.
It’s not Too Much Information. It’s the fucking truth.
Now here’s a picture of my goddamn baby. She’s cute as shit.