Basic rule of thumb: Never google childbirth if you are pregnant. I made that mistake when I was nine months along. There’s so much blood, and grunting, and bodily fluid, and panting. And to put the icing on the cake, your husband has a front row ticket to the show.
Before I delivered our baby, I remember being consumed with that idea- my husband is going to stand beside me while my hoo-ha is wide open, birthing a human. The same husband who pretends his wife (me) never poops. Please God, keep me from pooping on myself in front of my husband during childbirth; it would surely spoil his image of me forever. Amen.
We set ground rules to be followed during my delivery: 1) if the nurse brings in a mirror, immediately walk her back to the door 2) the husband stays north of the wall (sheet) at all times. Turns out there was no poo, or mirrors, or natural childbirth for that matter. But my husband wasn’t spared from many of the other horrors that accompany baby-having. He held my hand through my first and second blood transfusions after my delivery. He helped me take care of my incision during the days I couldn’t bend down to do it myself. And he watched me nurse our child until my nips were virtually open wounds.
Those days were scary, and pretty gross, but I knew I hadn’t scared him away.
We were partners, for better or for worse. This moment was both the for better and the for worse. I had delivered our first baby (for better). Both the baby and I were wearing diapers (for worse). And my husband was there to help us both through.
I remember the Saturday after I gave birth so vividly. I was dying for a shower, but I could barely walk three baby steps without getting dizzy, or crying in pain from my incision. My husband sweetly offered to help me get in the shower. Standing in the bathroom, he untied me out of the dingy hospital gown I had been sporting for what felt like weeks. I was anxious to wash the hospital stench off of my hair and skin. The thought of washing away the wretched stench of a hospital bed made me giddy as I stepped into the steam.
Immediately my body relaxed.
The water trickled down my back and slowly down my front, until it hit my mid-section. The stinging took my breath away. My pelvis was on fire as the water fell to my feet. I tried to hold in the tears, but they busted out. I heard my husband shuffling around outside the shower. Suddenly, he yanked the curtain to the side. I expected him to ask if I was OK, but instead I watched as he frantically stripped off his jeans and hopped in the shower right beside me. He put his arms around my naked, bloody body and held me while I laughed and cried.
This was real life.
And the pre-baby me would have been mortified at the thought of it. But it was beautiful in it’s imperfection.
There’s something to be said about a relationship that’s been through the trenches. It’s an unspoken bond that connects you after it’s over. You graduate, in a sense. After the birth of our first child, my husband and I graduated from marriage kindergarten to marriage primary school. In marriage primary school, there is less fear of embarrassment and more unconditional love. I like marriage primary school.
Not that this new stage of marriage doesn’t bring its own set of challenges, like learning to share responsibilities and survive long road trips with screaming toddlers. And just to be real, there’s so much damn poo. But so far, marriage primary school seems more forgiving. And real. And comfortable. We know each other inside out, and while that can be scary, it’s a relief. We aren’t always nice to each other- parenthood is nothing if it isn’t trying on your nerves. But, the touches are more genuine, and the memories are even better.
There’s nothing like loving a man who helped you bring a child into the world. He’s seen me at my worst, and loves me more. What a refreshing thought.