There Will Be Poop


The birth of a child is a bit of magic, but the act of labor is decidedly not. It’s the ugly that comes before the pretty. Movies have taught us that labor is a pregnant woman walking around, totally fine, and then suddenly gasping that “gasp My water just broke!”.

SMASHCUT TO: INTERIOR HOSPITAL DAY

Now there’s a woman on a bed, sweaty with mussed up hair, a doctor between her knees, alternating yelling about how “YOU did this to me” to the father and “Just give me DRUGS” to anyone else. Minutes later, a baby! Shazam!

Now, I don’t want to bring your world crashing down around you, but movies are inaccurate (Just ask my friend Alex one time about ballistics in action films, it will be enlightening). What you see in a film is, as it should be, the action-oriented portion of labor. What labor actually is might be more akin to playing World of Warcraft: it’s a grind.

Just so I don’t lose like 65% of my audience with that reference—you can’t just enter a hospital and come out with a baby. You check into a room and proceed to, you know, labor for a long time. Only after keeping at the act of labor for a long time can you reap the reward of a baby. This is, of course, not considering a scheduled Caesarean.

Labor averages out to around 8 hours. Not 8 hours of fun at Disneyland. 8 hours of THIS BLOWS. The pain of labor is, for the bulk of it, contractions of the muscles in the uterus as they draw back and prepare to start shoving the baby out of the body. They come in waves with increasing frequency. Once they are up to around one every minute or so, it’s go time. On top of that pain, though, many Mom’s will also find themselves with crippling back pain, or pain in the ligaments around the pelvis. Then there’s also the fatigue and tension resulting from being in pain on and off for basically an entire workday. And don’t even talk to me about the episiotomy (seriously, don’t).

When it’s time for the baby to arrive, the doctors will begin asking a very tired woman who has been in pain all day long and has either been trying to keep herself as relaxed as is humanly possible or is medically relaxed from the waist down to push. All I’m saying is that it’s entirely common for the baby not to be the only thing to make an appearance in the delivery room.

Not being prepared for all this can make for a pretty miserable labor experience. I’ve been reading and taking classes about it, but I’ve only just now started to grow acclimated to the notion that labor is going to be very awkward. We’ll be in a small room (very likely a shared room), there will be pain and grunting and private moments in a reasonably public space. We’ll both be uncomfortable, she’ll be in pain and I’ll spend the entire time feeling helpless because she’s in pain and that’s how it’s supposed to be.

Had I gone into the labor experience figuring it would be anything like how it is always portrayed, I think I would be both disappointed and useless. But I know better. I’m ready for Janelle to be in pain and I’m ready to sit for about 8 hours and massage her back (stories abound of fathers with arms sore for days after the labor). I’m ready for her to be grumpy and in need of patience. I’m ready for it to be rocky and claustrophobic and funky. I’m ready for a wrinkly, angry looking little baby.

And I’m ready for the poop.

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