Maybe I’m the big weirdo who’s in the minority here, but I wasn’t feeling any of those cheesy birthing scenes in primetime movies when I was pregnant. You know the ones I’m talking about—where multiple family members gather round in the birthing suite and watch in elated awe as a baby is brought into the world.
Subtext: All of these happy family members are looking directly at a vagina, if you’re unfamiliar with how the birthing process works. If I were the one in this scene, my vagina would be center stage. And that is where I say, “No, thank you” and make my swift exit stage right.
When I was pregnant with my first son two years ago and my due date was drawing closer, my husband and I began chatting about how family would play a role in the birth. Since pregnancy was so new to me, I felt pretty anxious about Game Day. I didn’t know exactly what was going to happen, and I didn’t need visitors grimacing or cheering me on. Nope, nope, nope.
I made my resistance clear to my husband, and he was cool with it. In order for my plan to work perfectly of banning all relatives from the birthing center where I was going to have my son, two things worked in my favor.
First, my in-laws are really reserved people that try their hardest never to impose on their sons. We knew that they would never be the type of in-laws to put up a fight and DEMAND that they be part of their first grandchild’s entry into the world. They were respectful of my wishes, and God bless them for it.
Second, my mom lives over four hours away, so she couldn’t just “pop in” when I was in labor. Also, when I was pregnant with my son, my mom and I were working through a lot of issues, so we weren’t as close as we are now. In spite of all this, my mom was still respectful of my space and didn’t demand to play a certain role during the birth of my son. She ended up visiting a few weeks later, which worked out well for all of us.
But there’s more to the story. Plenty of people say, “Who the eff cares who hangs out in the hospital waiting room while you’re pushing a watermelon out of your tiny lady hole? Get over yourself.”
To that I say, I must remind you that I was giving birth in a birthing center that was much, much smaller than any hospital. The midwives told me that I could invite family and friends to hang out in the waiting room, where there were books, magazines, and DVDs.
BUT the waiting room was literally a few feet from the birthing room. Basically, it was as intimate as being in someone’s house. You could probably hear a gentle cough from the next room. Since I didn’t think that my labor would play out like a silent movie, I went with “nope” again on that one.
The picture I had in my mind was this: I would be screaming and thrashing and biting down on a wooden spoon, and my in-laws would be quietly turning the pages of a magazine in the very next room. When I screamed, “FUCK MY LIIIIIIFE!” and foamed at the mouth, my ex-pastor father-in-law would raise his eyebrows and discreetly continue to read his article. Nope.
I don’t think my in-laws were deterred by the fact that we banned all family and friends from visiting the birthing center when I was in labor. My labor went pretty fast, four hours in active labor at the birthing center in total, so we didn’t allow anyone to drop by before go-time either.
We used the same approach when I had my second son at home. Similar to a birthing center, my house doesn’t offer much privacy, so I wasn’t all about having in-laws or my mom hanging out in the living room.
Maybe other pregnant ladies feel differently, but the thought never even crossed my mind to allow a close family member in the actual room while I was in labor, let alone pushing. Not gonna happen. After my second son was born, we did the same thing that we did with my first son—we texted and called family members and set up visits for as early as they wanted to drop by. No surprises, no pop-ins, no rando relative watching me poop in the birthing tub.
My theory that I am sticking to is that a baby is exactly the same, whether he is eight minutes or eight hours old. I know all relatives are excited to welcome a new baby into the world, but a few hours aren’t going to make a difference. We’ll call you.
(photo: Getty Images)