Let’s get one thing straight: if you are worried that this post is going to talk about orgasmic birth or how all women should embrace their inner goddess and give birth in a meadow surrounded by goats, you need not fear any such thing.
My love of labour, if anything, exposes one of my deepest character flaws (in my opinion), and the more I think about it, the more I know I’m going to have to work on it. Like, it’s great to enjoy labour and all, but when I really break down WHY I love going into labour, I realize that I have issues.
See, on the positive side, I am an extremely generous, empathetic, thoughtful and kind person. But on the negative side, I have a really hard time being generous, empathetic, thoughtful or kind to myself. I have a really hard time putting my needs ahead of other people’s (even strangers, sometimes), and I feel intense guilt over things I would never expect someone else to feel guilty over. But when I go into labour, well folks, THAT is when I finally feel like I can put my needs first.
Now, I’m pretty sure all mothers experience guilt, and parents frequently put their children’s needs ahead of their own. That’s normal and instinctive, within reason. But I think we all know that a mother who sacrifices absolutely everything for her children is doing herself and her children more harm than good.
I don’t think I’m quite so bad, but I really need to get over my constant guilt about doing anything that isn’t for the good of my husband and my kids. After all, doing something good for myself has a ripple effect on everyone, even if, momentarily, my husband has to reckon with a toddler screaming for her mother. Objectively, I know that he can handle it and that every day I put up with as much if not more whining, but I can’t help but feel so guilty whenever I take me-time.
So how is it different in labour? Well, I guess that there’s pretty much no one on earth who would argue that a woman in labour doesn’t deserve whatever she needs in the moment. When I’m in labour, I feel like the universe is giving me permission to be selfish and entirely single-minded. I feel like I can state exactly what I need (water, fruit cups, popsicles, back rubs, bed pan, heating pad, pressure on my back, wet cloth, McDonald’s fries) and I don’t have to say, “If you don’t mind, could you bring me …” (This is a common turn of phrase I use to try to soften a request—it drives my husband nuts.) I constantly feel the need to justify myself … my husband hates this also. And while I’m probably still an exceedingly polite person when in labour, at least I’m not bogged down by my self-inflicted desire to never inconvenience anyone.
So I guess the conclusion is live life like I’m in labour? Ignoring my own needs isn’t a sustainable lifestyle choice. There is no one in my life responsible for any feelings of guilt I may have other than myself. I mean, I realize there are toxic personalities out there who thrive on guilt-tripping others, but I actually only have one of those in my life, and it’s me … and I only guilt-trip myself. If I want to be the best possible mother of four I can be (and trust me, I do because I’m also a perfectionist), then I guess I have to live life like I’m in labour just a little more often!
How do you feel about labour?