The title of a popular post that went up on Huffington Post this week reads ‘New Mom’s Uncensored Photos Reveal The Beautiful, Messy Reality Of Home Birth.’ Before reading through the numerous status updates detailing her labor and delivery, I already knew what this new mom, Ruth Iorio, had written. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that every woman who’s given birth has had a unique experience. No two births are exactly the same, like snowflakes or jelly-filled doughnuts (some doughnuts have WAY more jelly, you know what I’m talking about). And yet, having seen so many STFU, Parents submissions about birth over the years, I’d be lying if I didn’t say they all kind of read the same. This is because no one else can feel what that woman is feeling in the moment. And maybe, just maybe, no one really cares. I’m not saying that to be a jerk; I’m just not sure that this live-posting “experiment” some women have conducted has been revelatory in any significant way, despite whatever the Telegraph might have you believe.
To give birth, certain biological things must happen. The cervix dilates. The word “thick” gets used in ways that make me slightly uncomfortable. Contractions begin, and before you know it, a baby has been delivered. Sure, there’s a lot more that goes into it. Babies are delivered in myriad ways, and not everything always goes as planned. To parents, this process is compelling and unforgettable. But to friends and family, all that really matters is the end result: A healthy and happy mom and baby. That’s it. Sometimes, that’s all people really want to know.
There are a lot of analogies I could use to explain what I mean. For instance, do you want to know about a professional athlete’s daily workout regimen and diet, complete with photos and descriptions, or do you just want to watch that athlete perform during the game? How about when a chef prepares an incredible meal — would you rather know every ingredient and how it was cooked prior to eating it, or do you simply want to enjoy the meal? This is how I believe most people feel about reading through a friend’s labor updates on social media. “Just show us a picture when he or she is born,” thinks the average Facebook friend when scrolling through a half-dozen updates about mucus plugs and the baby dropping. Yes, birth is miraculous, but it also happens 370,000 times a day. It’s a blessing, but it’s commonplace. And to me, there’s nothing especially “revealing” about a new mom’s uncensored updates during labor and delivery — regardless of the method(s) practiced — other than the fact that she’s choosing to reveal those details so publicly.
By using the word “revealing” in the title of the post, we’re to assume that Iorio is doing something cutting edge and that her honesty is refreshingly new. But to me, that word simply means she’s revealing private details that, up until a few years ago, most parents didn’t feel the need to share. In the case of Iorio, the only thing that made her story uniquely informative was, frankly, the fact that she had to be transported to the hospital due to home birth complications. Granted, her transparency remained part of the storytelling process, but the word “messy” carries new meaning when emergency blood transfusions are involved. As for the rest of her live-posts, details like, “And why does no one say your asshole aches like hell too?” and, “No loss of mucus plug or breaking waters yet. Just — TMI! — diarrhea,” confound me. First, people do talk about their assholes aching. That’s the baby dropping, and considering I don’t even have any kids myself, I know I’m not alone in having heard this delightful piece of information before. Second, I tend to keep diarrhea to myself regardless of whether I have diarrhea at work, at a party, or on a plane. Why? Because there’s no such thing as a time for “special mentions” of diarrhea. You’re either the type of person who thinks it’s “revealing” and “honest” to report your loose stool to your social media network, or you’re not.
Speaking of social media, when I posted about Iorio’s story on Twitter and Facebook, responses ranged from people who did in fact appreciate her honesty, to criticism of home birth, to disbelief that her live-updates were being trotted out as novel (especially since the media has been reporting on this“brand new” concept for years). Many women even “re-live” their children’s births each year online, posting update after update about the timeline of memories. But the responses that resonated the most with me are summed up in these tweets:
After going through my files, I’ve located yet another hero who posted about her labor and delivery a year ago on Facebook. Let’s travel together through her exciting journey.
1. Pre-Labor At 36 Weeks
2. 37 Weeks And 1 Day
Kian and Temperance are definitely the most yoonique thing about this woman’s updates.
3. Jennifer Is So Done Being Pregnant.
4. Good To Know
5. BREAKING: Jennifer’s Water Broke (She’s Pretty Sure)
6. No Pain, No Gain
Sarah didn’t feel any pain with hers. Nope. None. Until, I’m assuming, a baby came tearing through her birth canal.
7. The Game Of Telephone
When you post on Facebook about playing phone tag, it makes a person wonder why you don’t just pick up the goddamn phone yourself.
8. Completely Effaced
Bless Jennifer’s phone manufacturers for complicating things to the point that Jennifer’s not sure if she can post live photos from her phone. Bless them.
9. Pictures Will Follow
You said it, Bobbi. The name “Gwenevere Makayla” falls in line perfectly with siblings Kian and Temperance. Something tells me Jennifer didn’t skimp on posting photos when she got home, either, so her friends lucked out there. One thing I will say about Jennifer’s updates that stand in contrast to Ruth Iorio’s updates: At least she didn’t appear to be high on herself for who she was — a mom going through the motions of labor and delivery. There were no photos of her chilling with an open robe, sitting on a medicine ball, or squatting in the shower. Just some good old-fashioned Facebook updates, as God and Mark Zuckerberg intended.