“childbirth – stuff you don’t want to know”

1 Aug

Heh. Where to start.

 Let’s break down the 5 senses.

Smell:

When you’re pregnant, everything smells odd, and sometimes, awful. Excruciatingly so. People on the bus are magnified until their stench fills your entire being and you want to retch and retch. Food might disgust you. The memory of my father cooking a steak during my last pregnancy comes to mind-the smell and even taste of blood filled my head.

After you’ve birthed your child comes the lovely smell of lochia, magnified if you’ve hemorrhaged. Throw in unwashed human stink and sour milk smell from leaking breasts, and you are a veritable ball of blech that only time can rid you of. I never smelled that wondrous baby smell-I was too busy reeking from the various things dripping from me.

Find good things to smell, to create a barrier between you and the stench. Vaporub comes to mind.

Taste:

Nothing tastes the same when pregnant. Thankfully that comes back afterwards, but then it’s all tied up in memory. I ate X when I breastfed for the first time. I was eating C when I switched to bottles, I had Chinese the first night we were home. Taste cuddles up with memory, and you find stages in your child’s life to be melded to food.

Somethings taste FANTASTIC. I’m intolerant/allergic/whatever to eggs and dairy. When pregnant, I could eat ALL OF IT I WANTED!!! And I did. However, the guacamole/tortilla/bean with bacon soup meal I had one day? NOT a good idea. Just sayin.

Touch:

My entire pregnancies were full of touch me/get away from me. It was a greek drama I swear. During the births themselves, I know my husband was there, but I cannot remember what he was doing for the most part. I’m sure he was touching me, but I don’t remember. What I DO remember are the hands of strangers. My own OB/GYN was on vacation for BOTH of my births 2 years (almost) apart, so I gave birth with no familiar faces other than my husband. This is part of the reason I want to go into midwifery. No one should give birth alone in a crowd like that. No one should have their uterus entered by handS after birth to detach retained placenta either, not without drugs. No one should have to remember that helplessness.

Remember that you can control your birth and surroundings. Your body, your child. Take what is yours. Demand what you can, stand up for yourself. Don’t come to regret anything later.

Sight:

My eyes are already terrible, and didn’t get any better after the birth. But I can tell you, you learn to navigate blind in the night since putting your glasses on makes you stay away. Unless you want to watch the Daily Show at 3 am. Then go ahead and put them on.

I will say that the sight of your child for the first time, regardless how you feel about them, is an incredible thing. I made that! It came from me! now it’s pooping everywhere! You’ll see your eyes, your nose, his mouth. You’ll see years in a moment, and no words could contain or release that. It’s a transcendent sight.

Hearing:

Childbirth is funny-you will hear everything, and nothing. Time will condense into a moment where everyone holds their breath waiting for you to deliver, and yet they’re all screaming at you to push. (Real helpful btw, the screaming) All the intense moments in your life-they build up to this, to the real thing, to the moment of truth where you find the strength you may have never realized you had. This is where being a mother starts-saying you can’t while doing what needs to be done.

And then, they will cry. Personally, I hate hearing newborn cries, but still I remember them taking Rosalyn from me because she had pooped inside, and she was quiet and I remember worrying and realizing how I had counted on hearing that voice.

And then she let loose. How sweet is the sound of life truly beginning.

The stuff you don’t want to know? It WILL change you. Say what you will-say that you won’t turn into a “mom”, that you won’t be uncool or whatever. But to parent, and parent well, you must change in subtle ways. You become stronger, you become a mama bear standing over your cubs, you become a version of you that was never anticipated, but always there, waiting in the wings.

You couldn’t imagine it. I couldn’t. Yet today I sit here wondering what kind of person I would have been without my children. I wonder if I would still feel so remote and distant in the world, so aimless. For me, having children served as a guidepost, a catalyst, for good or ill.

The same might hold for you. No one will tell you this, because it isn’t cool to admit, but suddenly, having the newest “whatever” won’t matter, at least not for the first little while.

But no one will tell you how fantastic of a ride having a child, birthing a child, on your own, without drugs, really can be. Please try it-so many women have such horror stories of their births, of the regrets they have, the voices they didn’t use. USE YOUR VOICE.

Find the answers. Ask the questions. Listen to your body. There really is no stuff you don’t want to know, just stuff no one will tell you.

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8 Responses to ““childbirth – stuff you don’t want to know””

  1. charlotteotter August 1, 2007 at 10:41 am #

    What a beautiful post, thank you.

    It is incredible how acutely sensitive you become to EVERYTHING while pregnant. The smell of my dishwasher with a load of clean dishes in it used to make me gag. I can laugh now but it wasn’t funny then.

    As for a drug-free birth, I had two of out three and they were astonishing. I came away with a renewed sense of my own power. I also only got the births I dreamed of when I demanded them. With the first, I was too scared to shout what my needs were.

  2. thordora August 1, 2007 at 2:20 pm #

    Almost every food aside from Pizza Hut made me want to gag. I had a total thing for grease my second pregnancy, and now have the 50+ pounds to show for it. Quitting smoking didn’t help either.

  3. Marcy August 1, 2007 at 4:03 pm #

    I so wanted Chinese food all the time. And potato chips.

    And while I’ve never been fond of violent movies, my tolerance for them dropped so low during pregnancy and is still down there.

    I’m not sure what I would have wanted instead of my Pitocin-induced-but-no-other-drugs birth, if anything. Yes, I found power and determination I didn’t know I had. But my desire for a natural birth was only partly about being earthy and real — so much of it was mixed up with fears about what drugs would do to the baby, to me, to nursing, and so on. And then add in my huge fears about what labor — with or without drugs — would do to / take from me. And how alone I felt despite my midwife and husband being there. And the fact that we were in the hospital over twenty four hours trying not to be induced, after two weeks of being home and trying not to be induced, and finally having to be induced anyway.

  4. Suburban Mum August 1, 2007 at 4:05 pm #

    The smell of coffee did it to me. I am usually such a coffee addict, and can quite happily stand in Starbucks just savouring the aroma. But when I was pregnant I couldn’t bear the smell or the taste.

    I had gas and air only during ST’s birth, mainly because I was shit scared of having an epidural (my Aunt ended up with epilepsy through a bodged one and I’ve had to have a spinal tap before, which was the scariest thing ever, so both put me off) or pethidine (because my Mum had it when she had me and maintained that’s why I couldn’t breastfeed because I was so sleepy). Anyway, luckily for me he only took 3 hours to arrive from start to finish so it wasn’t that bad. I am now more scared at the prospect of giving birth a second time, if we ever get to that, in case it isn’t as “easy” as the first.

  5. dragon August 2, 2007 at 1:28 am #

    You’re right– some of that stuff I didn’t want to know! 🙂 Especially about all the lovely smells of “things dripping from you”. Wonderful. I have always had a very acute sense of smell, and I didn’t know it could get any worse, but it definately has since I became pregnant. Cigarette smoke makes me want to throw up, and I tend to be very vocal about my dislike of it. Although, as far as the “new baby smell” goes, I’ve never really gotten why people like it. I think it’s the whole baby powder thing, I have an exteme aversion to it, especially since my former roommate vandalized my car by pouring baby powder into the vents. Hot rotting baby powder is not a pleasant smell.

  6. thordora August 2, 2007 at 8:47 am #

    that’s disgusting. I might have to do the baby powder thing to my neighbour. 🙂

    There are compensating factors, but I never realized how much I would smell the first week or so after! It’s not helped by being unable to wash because of the baby…

  7. nez August 15, 2007 at 10:17 pm #

    im having the hardest time with pica !
    its a disorder that lots of pregnant women get…. it make u eat baby powder, chalk,dirt ,even dried glue!
    its pretty bad. i hate that im eating so much baby powder.
    My doctor has boosted my iron pills but nothing works!

  8. thordora August 16, 2007 at 9:28 am #

    Pica! Eek! So glad I never had to deal with that. I don’t know anyone who did either. Wish I could help!

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