By: Ann Brown
The thing about being pregnant for the first time is that as far as you know, it’s all about labor. The fact that an actual baby arrives at the end of it, and then you have to raise it forever, well, that part is just so unimaginable that it doesn’t exist.
Labor. Contractions. Breathing. Hee hee hoo. Hoo hoo hee. Find your focus spot. Yeah, yeah, whatev. I figured I’d get through it or die trying and either way, it was all all cool. Plus, for fuck’s sake, the Queen Mum had babies and she seems way detached from her lady parts so if she could do it, I could do it.
So, yeah. Contractions. I didn’t obsess too much over them when I was pregnant. For me, it was all about the pushing part of the deal.
Because of, well, you know. Hemorrhoids.
In my family, the word “hemorrhoids” is spoken in the same hushed tones as the words, “Holocaust” or “pork”. Hemmorhoids are feared and revered –the ultimate proof that Our People Suffer. And they are the Purple Heart of pregnancy, for sure. How much do you love your baby? Enough to have a prehensile tail of blood vessels hanging out of your ass for the rest of your life, that’s how much. Now give Mommy a big kiss and go to grad school.
Years before I got pregnant, years before I got my period, I knew that pregnancy brings hemorrhoids. I might not even have been sure at that point that pregnancy brings a baby, but through generations of ancestral knowledge I knew not to push.
My mom said, “It’s a conundrum. They tell you to push the baby out, and you want to, but you have to think about hemorrhoids and be careful.”
As my due date drew near and the baby’s room was readied and the birth plan was written (my first piece of fiction, come to think of it), I practiced my fakeout pushing. Never mind that no woman in the history of EVER has been able to fake push out a baby; no woman ever had the fear of hemorrhoids put in her like I did.
Remind me next time you see me to show you my fake, hemorrhoid fooling, ooh ooh I’m pushing the baby out face. All scrunched from the neck up; below the waist I am as loose as a bowl of overcooked linguine. Luckily my years of faking orgasms gave me a strong foundation in this ruse.
So, the big day arrives. I am in the labor room. It’s time to push. I know what to do.
But there’s an unforeseen problem. No one told me that it’s not that you HAVE to push, like someone is forcing you; it’s that you MUST push, like your body won’t take no for an answer. If you have never had a baby, the only thing I can tell you it’s like is when you get a dozen fresh bagels from the bakery and you have to climb into the back seat (where you put them, you know, to discourage eating them before you get home) during a red light and tear open the bag. And eat them all.
Which, coincidentally, was what I had eaten that morning before I realized I was in labor.
And so when I gave in to my primal urge that afternoon and pushed, pushed hard while Robin held my hand and gave me encouraging words that, frankly, aggravated the fuck out of me (“I couldn’t care less if you love me right now. Just get this baby out of me or go home and clean the house”), I knew that nothing – not even the dreaded hemorrhoids – could keep me from helping my baby be born. So I pushed with everything I had. I pushed so hard that all it took was, like, three good pushes and it was out.
“Boy or girl?” I asked Robin. Before he could answer me, I added, “and you know what? Pushing is not that hard. I don’t know what everyone complains about. I guess I am even more awesome than I realized.”
Robin looked at me with that kinda bemused, kinda disgusted at me face, the face he makes when I say shit like, “I actually look thinner when I gain weight because of, you know, the way my clothes fit me.” Only this look was less bemused and more disgusted.
“Well? Boy or girl? What is it? And why isn’t it crying?” Uh-oh.
“Well,” Robin said, “Because it’s a poop.”
“You pooped. When you pushed so hard just now, you pooped. That’s what’s on the delivery table. A POOP.”
“You still have to push the baby out.”
So I did. And it was fine. No big whoop. And no you-know-whats.
The gift that does NOT keep on giving. Best Mother’s Day gift a child could ever give a mother.