Sunday, September 18, 2011

Why your mother-in-law does not have a first-row ticket to the delivery room.

Prescript:  If you're my mother-in-law, I love you dearly and none of this post is directed to you. :)

This issue came up on the BabyCenter boards.  I'm sure it's not the first time.  It certainly won't be the last time.  And this is very much an issue many mothers will have to face, fighting tooth and nail with their husbands (fiances/boyfriends/baby daddies).  And -- this is the part where you're going to attack me for being cruel and mean -- you know what?  This applies to those husbands/fiances/boyfriends/baby daddies, too.

You are not entitled to be there at the baby's birth.

Please don't hang me up to dry just yet!  I know that's one of those "taboo" things to say, and I certainly know that my husband does not agree with me one whit.  However, in our case it doesn't matter, as I couldn't dream of going through this without him there.  I want him to be there.  I also hope that he will be allowed to "catch" the baby when he or she is born.  This isn't a question in our family at all.

That doesn't, however, mean that I automatically think all fathers, mothers, mothers-in-law, fathers-in-law, best-friends-since-they-were-five, and the lady that you always see on the coffeeshop at 8 a.m. every Monday are entitled to be in the delivery room.

Most people seem to look at labor as The Great Debut of Child X.  I look at labor as what it is:  A medical procedure.  Regardless of whether this is performed at home, on the highway, or in the basement when zombies attack, this is Mommy X's Medical Procedure.  It's not about little Zach -- yet.  He just so happens to be the reason this is occurring.  When does it become about little Zach?  After little Zach is cleaned up, no longer attached to Mom, and ready for public viewing.  For those of you who might be unaware, when a lady in labor comes into the hospital, she's generally checked in under her own name.  Not her baby's.  Guess what that means?  Everything is about her.  The baby gets its own record -- after it is born.

That is where "entitlement" begins.  Not when the contractions start.  Not when the contractions are this close.  Not when that little head is being pushed out poor mom's vajingo.

"But that's not fair," people say, and it honestly shocks me that people think this way.  It's "fair" for daddy to see the baby's first breath.  It's "fair" that he sit through the entire ordeal, because after all, it's his kid too.  Fair this.  Fair that.  Fair poop, okay?  I want to know, why doesn't "fair" come into play when the mom can't hand off her expanding uterus to daddy so she can have a night off?  Why doesn't "fair" come into play when the daddy feels hopeless because he can't "feel" the flutters of quickening?  Why doesn't "fair" come into play when moms get to bond through breastfeeding, while all dads can do is hold a bottle?  Why doesn't "fair" come into play when hormones run rampant and uncontrolled?  Why doesn't "fair" come into play when the vagina is torn and needs to be stretched back up?  Why doesn't "fair" come into play when a woman has to go through major abdominal surgery just so the baby can be brought into the world alive?

I can tell you why; you just won't like the answer.  Life isn't fair.  Suck it up.

In all honesty, who can tell me that everything about pregnancy is fair?  It's not fair.  It isn't made fair.  The woman's body goes through the brunt of physical and emotional symptoms and men never seem to understand it.  That's not fair.  The dad has to deal with a pregnant, hormonal bitch in full rage without a fucking boat when the tears are enough to make a lake in the basement.  The dad has to be understanding, because "But honey, it's the hormones!"  And then he has to pray that he has the wherewithal to survive until that nasty little red-faced, crying, weird little creature is shoved into his arms and he can think, "Aww.  It's my son/daughter/alien!"  Is this fair to him?  No.  Of course it isn't.

So take fair out of the damn equation.  Fair doesn't belong in the delivery room.  If fair was supposed to exist in the delivery room, men would be having contractions and their asshole would be dilating.  Is it dilating?  Yes?  No?  I'm going to guess "no."

Who can walk out of a 27-hour labor and eat a sandwich?  Let me tell you:  it's not Mommy!

Who can take a nap after hour 32?  Again, it's not mommy.  Take a guess.  I'll give you 3.

Stop talking about "fairness."  Labor is not about fairness.  Shoving a baby's head out of your vajingo isn't about fairness.  Pregnancy.  Isn't.  Fair. 

With that said:

"If your mom is going to be there, then my mom should be too."What do you think we're arguing about?  A birthday present?  For crying out loud, stop trying to trump one another and grow up.  This isn't about "who's going to be there to see the baby's first few moments outside of the womb."  It's about pain, blood, more pain, screaming, possibly fainting, and poop.  The baby comes after all that.  There's more than just "the baby" involved in labor... Mom is going to need any tears stitched up, bleeding stopped (if there was anything insane going on!), and the placenta still has to be delivered.  Guess what?  That's still part of that whole "labor" thing, too.  Now do you see why I say it's a medical procedure...?

"Sometimes the dad-to-be needs support, too, and if he needs it from his mother, then she should be allowed in the delivery room."
If the dad-to-be needs support, he can get his support outside of mom's safe haven of misery and/or drugs.  He's not in labor.  He's not possibly hooked up to monitors.  He's not having contractions.  He probably has two feet, one foot, or a wheelchair.  He can walk out there and say, "Mommy, I'm scared."  She's perfectly capable of giving him support there.  And if he can't handle the entire ordeal without mommy being there, then maybe he should consider not being there -- because that's just going to burden his wife/fiancee/girlfriend/baby mama.

And, on that note, what if dad-to-be needs support from his daddy?  You can't tell me it's okay to say that, then, it's okay for the father-in-law to be in the delivery room.  Hell fucking no, it's not.  I don't care who you are -- if you think that's okay, there's something wrong with you.

"It's his kid, too.  He should be there."
Great -- if Mom is okay with that.  Otherwise, wait until the nurse brings that baby out to you.  I know that men hate the saying, "It's your baby, but it's her body" -- but guess what?  It's still true.  And if your presence is going to stress Mom out so much that she can't push and labor stalls, forcing her to undergo the C-section she wouldn't have needed if you had just stayed in the waiting room, that's ridiculous.  Your "right" to see your child born does not outweigh the seriousness of labor and its effects on mom's body.  I'm sorry.  Again, labor isn't about the child -- the child is just the cause of labor, and a happy result of it.

"This is a special bonding moment between you and the baby's father."
Maybe.  Depends on their relationship.  And quite frankly, if Mom doesn't want to bond, then she doesn't have to.

Quite frankly, everyone's different.  But in the end, there is one woman dealing with every contraction, every gush of ohmygod, did that come out of me?, every urge to push, every tear, every drop of blood lost, and who may even get PTSD from having a terrible experience with labor.  Yes, it does happen, and no, it's not lame, or stupid.  It's very real, and it's very, very scary.

Are you going to be able to say, "Honey, I'll take the next 5 hours of pain for you"?  Is your mom going to be able to push that last push?

Unless you can bear some of the pain, the pushing, the bleeding, the tearing, and the long-term consequences on your body for that person giving birth, then no, you are not entitled in that room.  You can be the husband, the mother-in-law, my mother, a bored nurse from the hospital 2 cities over, or the family dog -- you have no right to say who stays and who doesn't.  And no, it isn't fair.  But that's life.

With that said, I'm hoping to have my husband and mother there through the whole thing.  And I'm hoping my mother-in-law will be able to stop by while my vagina isn't on view.  And, knowing how fucking amazing she is, I'm sure she won't have a problem if I ask her to wait outside because I have the urge to get naked and comfortable and don't want to be naked around her.  I just need to be lucky enough that she has the time and willingness to stick around for it!  :)