Happy Labor Day weekend, everyone! If you’re anything like most Americans, you’re planning to take the upcoming weekend to relax, because you know this holiday is a formal recognition of the labor movement and a time to unwind. But if you’re part of the small, yet vocal, percentage of people who like to associate Labor Day with birth — aka, the miraculous act that follows a woman’s long, intense period of labor — then this day takes on a whole new meaning. We’ve seen this rise of Labor Day², as I like to call it, for years now. I’ve personally been on “Labor” Day Watch for at least five years, and it’s like no matter how hard I try to tell people that Labor Day isn’t about moms who have labored, people just keep on keepin’ on, because this is America, where we work hard for what we want in life, and our jobs won’t be completed until everyone finally warms to the idea that Labor Day-themed birth and labor jokes are apropos and hilarious.
After all, moms are tenacious, too. Hence, the need for a little additional recognition that not only is Labor Day a grand celebration dedicated to all laborers and American workers, but also that moms are a kick-ass bunch of gals, and most of them have been through — you guessed it — LABOR themselves! Ha ha ha. The kind that involves bodily fluids! It ain’t easy! It’s funny ’cause it’s true, you guys. Every single one of us is on this planet because of a woman who labored. How cool is that? Plus, this never-ending series of holiday puns creates a fantastic opportunity for doulas to run limited time offers on their services. Synergy!
So this year I thought, “If you can’t correct ’em on WTF Labor Day is, join ’em!” Isn’t that how the expression goes? This year, instead of banging my hands against my keyboard and shouting, “BUT THIS IS WHY WE HAVE MOTHER’S DAY!!!!”, I’m going to tip my hat to my fellow sisters and revel in Woman’s birthtastic abilities. That’s right — this entire column is dedicated to birth stories. They’re very chic, always in season, and each one is totally different, even though you’d swear they all sound identical (if you can stay awake long enough to listen to one). Birth stories are what moms want us to think about as we’re lounging poolside or camping by a river or barbecuing this Labor Day weekend, so why not do just that? Besides, birth stories are so full of love and heartfelt emotion, and who doesn’t need more love in their lives? If you’ve never been bombarded with a birth story, lemme tell ya, you are in for a real treat.
Granted, we’ve touched on birth stories before because some ladies like to publicly reflect on their “natural” births on a regular basis, and we all have a friend or five who have helpfully provided explicit details during labor and/or post-delivery, with some even going so far as to reminisce on said labor and delivery every.single.year. because…well, I’m still trying to figure out why. Which means that technically, some parents are devoting a considerable amount of time on Facebook to detailing a process that more than 10,000 women experience in the U.S. on a daily basis. We’ve got Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, birthdays, and now, of course, Labor Day, so if you’re ever wondering when you might get another opportunity to appreciate the hard work women go through when they labor and deliver a baby, fear not! A new holiday is always just around the corner.
I won’t burden you with the longest examples of birth stories I’ve received, because they all exceed the time it takes the average person to read a New Yorker feature, but here are a few excerpts from the submissions you’re missing out on in today’s column:
“I warned my friends attending the birth that I’d been given a laxative and would have the runs while in labor. I sure did. Not a fun time at all!”
“My husband was serving the children cottage cheese and melon for breakfast, but having had diarrhea so much that morning, I didn’t want to put much more in my system.”
“My amniotic sac broke into the water. If it had been a “land birth,” there would have been a lake! I was later told there was a lot of vernix in the waters that broke. Well, that felt better!”
“I was concerned, because I felt like I was pushing through my butt, instead of the vagina. I could feel the roundness of my baby’s head, separated from my hands by only the perineum. I felt the scar tissue of the perineum as I pushed with my hands to keep the baby IN! The only thought I had was, “If I let go, the baby will be out, but this whole skin will RIP OPEN.”
“I had to wait patiently for a while for the placenta to be born. It came a full half-hour later, and made the pool quite red.”
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