Listen, I’ve pushed four kids out of my lady business, so I feel like I have at least some street cred for this discussion. I’ve been on a bit of a #dontjudge kick, but hey, we could use a whole lot more of it as far as I’m concerned. Here’s my point:
Don’t judge another’s vagina by one’s own vagina.
These are words to live by, I think.
Or, don’t judge until you’ve walked a mile in their…never mind.
Because seriously, all labors are not created equal.
As my friends have begun to join me on my quest for pushing entire humans out of small passageways, I feel a little protective of their feelings and their bodies (which aren’t actually up for public discussion, just so ya know). There is an overwhelming sense that there is a “higher way.”
Well, excuse me while I stand on my soapbox for a sec: They grew a baby, and then the baby had to come out of their body. We should be giving a lot more high-fives and a lot less opinions.
Exhibit A: Weight Gain
Just don’t speak about it. Stop it. Some people gain exactly the perfect amount of weight (so said by the pregnant book gods) on purpose and are successful. Those people are the hormone-conquering elite and are awe-inspiring, but also not to be the benchmark against which all other mamas are compared—kind of like a unicorn or an Olympic athlete. The second group of people gain the perfect amount of weight (or less), and there ain’t nothin’ they can do about it. May it be genetics, morning sickness or both, this is not to be judged and also should not be a platform on which to instruct other women. Because girl, you don’t even know. The third group, well, let’s just say I know what it’s like to visit the doctor and feel like the heavyweight champion of pregnant women, and my friend, it’s all good. You are growing a person. To all the varieties of weight gain, I salute you.
Exhibit B: Epidural/Natural/Caesarean
This is where I come again to my first point. Don’t judge another’s vagina, uterus, pelvis, cervix, hips, baby size or head size by your own. You have absolutely no idea what labor will look for another person. Your birth story cannot and will not be their story. Labors are not the same, and it is insane to think otherwise. Case in point: Even my four labors (using the same body) deserve their own titles—something like “Blissfully Naive,” “Giant Head,” “Chainsaw Through My Body” and “Sweet Potato Fries.” (It’s a good thing my husband was there or I woulda kicked it Old Testament-style with the child-naming: “One Who Angered Me” or “One Who Caused Me To Scream Swear Words” and such. But those are stories for another time.)
And the Caesarean, listen, I get that they may be “overused.” But I also hear they help moms and babies avoid death. That’s pretty cool. So with that, I say, “Bring on the knife!” And by the way, the women I know who have had Caesareans are complete badasses. How about 60 hours of labor and then a C-section? Or how about my one friend whose anesthesia didn’t work? Let’s all take a moment of silence to think about that.
So, how about we all give the reins back to the person they actually belong to (the mom) and make her feel awesome, no matter what her birth story may be. Because wait for it…
Exhibit C: Home/Hospital/Birth Center
One of my favorite things ever is when comedian Jim Gaffigan talks about how his wife does home births and people say to him, “We were going to do that, but we wanted our baby to live.” Ahhh! I die. So funny. Listen, if a person is going to have to push out a human, I’d say that they have a right to do that wherever they feel is the most comfortable and safe for them. When I go to the hospital, I’m like, “When did you say I have to check out of this hotel, and also, could you bring me another cheeseburger and a milkshake?” But my friend Erika is like, “I’d rather not go to a disease-infested asylum that smells like a convalescent home to have a baby.” Understood. If you’re not the one with contractions, put a lid on it.
I haven’t even mentioned the women who decided not to have kids. Guess what? That is also nobody’s business. Or the woman who can’t have biological kids. Or the mama warriors who battle postpartum depression (so sorry, my friend, I have nothing but honor for you). Or a parent’s age? Or surrogates (you are incredible), and the families who use them (nothing but love) or adoption (show me anything that involves adoption, and I will cry—I promise).
Ladies, let’s link arms, give each other a wink, and say, “I value you, and therefore I validate your story.” I don’t know about you, but I already hear a collective sigh of relief—particularly my own.