I was chatting with Wes’ little sister today, and she asked me how my labor experience with Aidan was. And I couldn’t answer her right away. Truthfully, I’m not entirely certain how to answer that question.
My first inclination was to say that I had fun, and would totally do it again. But, as my mother in law pointed out (she was there when Aidan was born), I most certainly was not having fun. Contractions hurt, and there is no way, had you asked me while I was in labor, that I would have said I was having fun.
As for totally doing it again, that is true. I am still as passionate about natural childbirth as I was before I experienced it, though maybe for different reasons than I was before. Before, it was all hypothetical and I had no real idea what to expect, I just thought I could do it.
Now, well now I just suppose I know I can do it, and would prefer not to have to mess around with a hospital and anesthesia. I’m hoping my next birth (whenever that is) will involve less bleeding and less tearing, so that I can genuinely just bask in the afterglow and not have to mess around with lame stuff like IV’s and stitches.
So, getting back to original question, in answering the question of how my labor experience was, it was…And there we go again. I can recount the details of the day, but how was it? How do I qualify the experience?
Even six months later I’m still having trouble wrapping my mind around it. I suppose the best way to describe the whole shooting match is to liken it to a marathon. I can guarantee you that come mile 24, none of those marathoners are enjoying themselves and thinking about how much fun they’re having. Their knees hurt, their muscles ache, they have to pee, and their lungs burn.
But then they see the finish line in the hazy distance, and they feel a spurt of adrenaline that carries them across the line. And then they stop running, and it is that moment right there that makes them glad they ran the marathon. It’s not those middle miles that feel interminable, it’s not the training that leads up to it.
It’s that endorphin-soaked moment at the end that makes them feel proud and exhausted and accomplished and absolutely victorious, even if they didn’t finish first. Because they finished. Because they did it, something that not many people have done and that a lot of people think is crazy. And they are crazy, but maybe not in the way that people think.
Granted, I’ve never run a marathon. I doubt I’ve ever even run more than a mile at once. But I can imagine that this might be what it’s like.
So maybe that’s how I’ll answer that question in the future. I’ll liken it to a marathon, and just say that it was hard but so worth it. I won’t try to explain why it was worth it (because I’m not sure most people care why) and maybe I’ll try to stop saying it was fun. Because it wasn’t fun in the traditional sense, and it wasn’t really fun in the nontraditional sense. But it definitely was, and I’d definitely do it again.