BabiesPregnancy & ChildbirthPseudoscienceSex and Sexuality

F#!@CK the Birth Experience

A couple of years ago I wrote an essay about how my perception of the “birth experience” had changed from the birth of my first kidlet by c-section to the event of my triumphant VBAC.

Spoiler alert: VBAC, SHMEEBAC.

That essay eventually became a story that I told onstage — part of an amazing Mother’s Day storytelling show in DC called Bad Mommy Moments.

It was around that same time that I stumbled across my first skeptical blogs, including Skepchick, which completely changed the way I think.

So it kinda makes sense to share this as my first post:

Warning: NSFW (language). Trigger warning: miscarriage.


Jenny Splitter

Jenny Splitter is a writer, storyteller and over-scheduled mom of two living in Washington, DC. She spends her glamorous days trying to write whatever she can, counting 1-2-3 in a slow yet threatening manner to her children, playing with gluten and working to eradicate dog hair from the planet (or at least her home). Find her on Twitter , Google+ and Facebook

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  1. Brilliant!
    I was one of those glowing, beautiful little bump pregnant women… and I hated EVERY SINGLE MINUTE OF IT. “Oh, Al! You look so healthy! Pregnancy really suits you!” “Fuck you, buddy. My back hurts, I’m having shooting pains up my side, I can’t sleep, I have heartburn, and oh yeah I pissed my pants yesterday.”

    But I kept the kid, too. 🙂

  2. That was brilliant!
    I can relate to so much you said. The refusal to take the pregnancy for real after a miscarriage especially.
    Fortunately I never got into “Natural Birth” quackery, but yeah, this whole “pregnancy and birth experience” stuff pisses me off.
    I hated being pregnant. With my first born I vomited non-stop for three solid months. And then she tortured those bands that hold the uterus and every step was like aknife being driven into my side.
    And let’s not even talk about birth. I pooped, I peed, I tore, I got cut, I got stiched up again. Yes, that’s an experience. So is stapling your hand to your cheek.
    The results of pregnancy and childbirth were gorgeous, though.

  3. Amen! Love this so much. So sorry for your miscarriage.

    Throughout my pregnancy and “birth experience,” all I cared about was 1) was it better for the baby; and 2) if it didn’t matter one way or the other, was it something I wanted? I <3 the epidural.

    I had placenta abruptia. Almost bled out, emergency C-section, long recovery, infection bonus round, doctor tore me back open, more recovery. But hey, I could probably have a VBAC next time! Hooray?

    Thank you for this. I've been pooh-poohing on the birth experience for years, but never quite so eloquently.

    1. Terrible c-section recovery — that’s why I wanted a VBAC in the first place! But who knows if it was the c-section or the pre-eclampsia? My VBAC recovery was certainly better, all things considered, but I was hardly ready to run a marathon! So, yeah, keep your expectations low. 😉 I know a few women who had infections from their c-sections, and that shit is no fun! “Almost bled out” sounds pretty scary!

  4. Pretty awesome story. 🙂
    I was a little afraid when you mentioned rebirthing as a thing to try to get your baby to latch – I thought you meant this kind: . And I was like, “that’s well down the new age wormhole to try *that* for breastfeeding trouble…”
    [I once had a family not hire me as their nanny because I wanted to be paid in money, rather than rebirthing sessions.]

  5. That was an amazing video! Thank you for posting it!

    This topic is tough, but I want to add a slightly different perspective in defense of the “birth experience”. If you are pregnant and unsure of what you want, look at your options. Do some serious thinking and reading and try to figure out what your ideal birth experience would be. Now, learn about possible complications (if you haven’t had any already) – there are a lot of things that can happen that you simply cannot control. Try your best to make a back up plan for some worst cast scenarios, because it may not go the way you want. Now… (and this may be the hardest part) go for your ideal while simultaneously trying to keep in mind that you may not get it.
    Your relationship with your child will not be made or broken based on how they come into the world, or whether or not you breastfeed, or whether you co-sleep or put them in a crib. What gives birth experience importance imo is the what it may mean to YOU.
    For me, it was being a person and not a patient. I had been getting a very unpleasant “assembly line” vibe from my gynecologists office and was starting to realize that I was very stressed out over it. While they were polite, the subject of what I may want never even came up – it was just assumed that I had put myself in their hands and they would do what they felt was best. I know that this may be exactly the right thing for some women and to them I say “Do what is right for you!”, but I have trust issues, and authority issues, and trust issues with authority.
    I ended up trying for a natural waterbirth at an accredited birth center a block away from a hospital. The midwives (very science based midwives) were wonderful, and I felt that I was viewed as a person and not a number there. More importantly, I knew they would do their best (barring complications) to honor my wishes. Also, (perhaps because I live in New Jersey and not California), after making this choice I was not carried aloft in the sun on a pillow of new age hippie hair while a choir of goddesses sung hymns to the Earthmother. To the contrary, people that found out for the most part looked at me like a was crazy. Thankfully, after hearing me out my husband and inner circle were wonderfully supportive.
    In the end, I got the birth experience I wanted. I was lucky enough to not have any serious complications (and believe me, I know it was luck) and had, though painful, a very short labor. My daughter was born healthy and was not taken from my room.
    It meant a lot to me – it was empowering – and I am very glad I pursued what I wanted (and fortunate that I got it).
    So yes, in the big picture I agree – it is not the birth experience that is important but the result. Just don’t let that notion stop you from at least trying to have the type of birth you want.

    1. It’s funny — I feel like I was treated much more impersonally by the midwife I saw initially than my obgyn. My daughter was also not taken from my room. That’s standard at both hospitals (in DC and California) where I have delivered (my son was whisked away because he had to go to the NICU – he was 8 weeks early). Sure, try for the birth that you want. But I had no clue what I wanted until I was in labor. I didn’t want or need the pain. I liked my epidural. The story is about the disconnect between my expectations and reality. We don’t have much control over childbirth — whether labor is easy or difficult, whether there will be complications, etc. Everything could turn out exactly as you planned or the shit could hit the fan. You just don’t know.

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