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April 18th, 2006

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10:54 am - Thought for the day: A different kind of war story
If you've ever been pregnant (or known someone who was pregnant for the first time), you'll probably have noticed how other women with children seem to love telling the new mom-to-be about all the horrible things that have happened to them, their friends, their mothers, their grandmothers, etc. You know the deal: here's the poor woman, waiting for her blessed event.

Maybe she's gotten past the morning sickness. (If she hasn't, the stories will be all about the terrors of morning sickness and how I couldn't keep ANYTHING down for three months and they had to end up putting me on an IV and we're still paying off the hospital bills and I barely survived but I'm sure you'll be fine, hon.)

Maybe she's well on her way and is as big as a house -- or feels as though she's as big as a house. (If she isn't, the stories will be all about how HUGE my sister Sarah got, and had to wear a back brace and couldn't get out of bed at all for three months and gosh, you're such a tiny thing, it'll probably be SIX months for you.)

And of course, there are always the labor stories. A co-worker of mine is pregnant with her first, and we were talking about labor. Now, I've sat through labor with a friend (for over 18 hours because her husband was an abusive SOB, but that's beside the point), but haven't experienced it myself. I've always wondered why it seems that women try to bring up the most horrible things when talking to a new mom-to-be.

"And why do people always want to tell pregnant women the most horrible labor stories? Every time I know someone who's about to have their first baby, I always hear people telling them stuff like 'Oh, yes, I was in labor for three solid weeks, and the baby came out sideways and dislocated both my hips, and I had to be in a wheelchair for six months,'" I asked her, "What IS it with that?"

I don't know what I was expecting her answer to be. Probably along the lines of, "Oh, I know, I wish people wouldn't do that." That's probably what MY answer would have been. Instead, she surprised me with the following, which I think is a beautiful insight, and which I'd like to share with you:

"I actually read about that in a magazine," she replied. "It's like men and war stories: these are our special war scars, something, though scary, that we are proud of. May scare the crap out of new mothers, but if I wasn't around Alzhiemer's and elders and the end of life, I was around my family and friends giving birth. I like to hear the stories, actually I like to hear women tell stories that mean something to them, as opposed to the usual, meaningless stories about their vehicles or shopping sprees and junk that just doesn't matter. Birth is a personal story, and the emotion some women give their story is touching and real."

I'd never thought about it that way, but it seems so true. In a way, it can be reassuring rather than scary in the sense that you can think, "Gosh, if she went through ALL THAT, mine is bound to be easier," or even, "Hey, if she could get through it, so can I."

It's something that is ours alone, as women, where we can take pride in the strength of each other.

(10 comments | Leave a comment)


(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
Date:April 19th, 2006 03:14 pm (UTC)
I'd love to take an oral history of different women's birth stories and call it "Organized Labor." I think it'd be amazing.

Date:April 18th, 2006 10:07 pm (UTC)
I always tell pregnant women how freaking easy my labor was... Could I be damaging them? Ruining their thoughts of "Phffft if that broad can do it anyone can..."? But I did, so I have to brag... :)
[User Picture]
Date:April 18th, 2006 10:38 pm (UTC)
I figure they need some good stories so they can hope for the best. A friend of mine had her baby on the gurney in the ER on the way in. Couldn't even get to a room. She said it was like spitting out a watermelon seed. :-)
[User Picture]
Date:April 19th, 2006 12:04 am (UTC)
And here I thought it was just a game to see whose story could produce the most "OMGWTF" expression in the room.
[User Picture]
Date:April 19th, 2006 02:17 pm (UTC)
LOL! That's kind of what I thought too. :-)
[User Picture]
Date:April 19th, 2006 01:49 am (UTC)
You know, you were really starting to scare me with an intro like that.
Date:April 19th, 2006 02:20 pm (UTC)
No kidding, Rob!

I gave birth to an idea once, but after much nurturing, it went off to live on the streets and beat up old ladies.

To paraphrase Robin Williams: "The only way a man can really share in the birthing experience is by passing a bowling ball."
[User Picture]
Date:April 19th, 2006 02:24 pm (UTC)
Gotta watch out for some of those ideas.

I think I do have a spare bowling ball around here somewhere if any of you guys are game.

[User Picture]
Date:April 19th, 2006 04:41 am (UTC)
You know, that's kind of beautiful. I am as guilty of anyone of wanting to share my birth story and stories about the rough start we endured, and things like the horrid night nurse who laughed at my efforts to pump and save every drop of my collustrum when I was trying to get my milk to come in while my baby was in the NICU of another hospital, or the pediatrician I hate because she's constantly giving me shit about how small he is compared to the Evil Growth Chart of The Devil but am stuck with because we're on medicaid. I guess sharing the pain of all that shows that I'm human, and that the things I went through, hard as they were then, were worth it when I look at how far he's come. I always kind of took the horror stories as a "If I went through all this and we're ok, you'll be fine!".
[User Picture]
Date:April 19th, 2006 03:13 pm (UTC)
Well it's something to be proud of, that you got through. Something painful and scary that, nevertheless, you're overcoming.

I thought it was an amazing and beautiful insight too. It really kind of set me back for a minute and made me think, which is why I asked her if I could post what she said on my blog.

I'm still kind of boggling over the *truth* in that simple statement. :-)

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