Some people are afraid of the pain. Maybe the epidural won’t work. Or they’re afraid of the epidural needle itself, which, my God, have you seen the size of that thing? I think Excalibur was a might smaller when Arthur pulled it from the stone, for hellsakes. Others are worried about having an unplanned C-section. Me, I worry about pooping.
I don’t remember it all, but my husband and mom tell me I was obsessed with whether or not I was pooping while pushing.
“Am I pooping? I know I’m pooping.”
A short while later…
“Have I pooped? Did I just poop right there?”
“Listen, just tell me when I poop.”
I’m pretty sure I pooped and no one told me. I didn’t want Serge, my husband, to see me poop. I also wasn’t exactly best friends with the idea of strangers watching poop squirrel out of my bum either. A baby, fine. But poop? N to the O, thank you.
I think it started when I was in my teens. My mom told me a story about my aunt giving birth to one of her five children. Now, I come from Mormon stock. Hearty Mormon stock. I was raised on grandma’s pot roast and a Jell-O dessert chock full of mini marshmallows and shredded carrots. Which means the women, they either squat by a tree and push out baby seven before coming in to fix breakfast, or they’re embarrassed by the whole giving birth scenario because they have to be naked.
Aunt Laura is as devout as they come. She’s of the latter persuasion. No sex before marriage and nothing too crazy in the sex department after the old chastity belt has been unlocked. My uncle probably never saw her naked. What I’m saying is she probably wasn’t thrilled with the idea of laying, legs splayed, vagina at full salute while he stood by.
So she’s just about to start pushing and the nurses ask my aunt if she’d like a mirror to see all the action, and I suppose she says yes because there she was, pushing away, my uncle at her side and they’re watching that mirror harder than anyone’s ever watched anything before, waiting, waiting for something to come.
It came all right.
A giant candy bar of poop exited her body and uncurled onto the table. My aunt was mortified. Sure, it’s totally natural, but still. You’re already in the most compromising position known to woman and yet your body saves a little something special just to make it wholly memorable, I suppose.
Of course the nurses immediately dispose of the poop but for me, at fifteen or sixteen, when my mom told me that story, pooping in front of anyone was just about the most horrifying scenario to contemplate. I was still having trouble eating lunch at school in the presence of my crush. Pooping? My God, the utter horror. I’d rather be dead, I thought.
This could explain my unnatural obsession with pooping while giving birth to Violet.
The doctor who delivered Violet was a lovely woman. Funny and personable, yet all business. The perfect doctorly blend. But when we found out I was pregnant this time around and went to make our first appointment, we were told she no longer delivers. They referred us to the male doctor across the hall. A very reputable fellow, to be sure. In fact, turns out his wife is our daughter’s pediatrician. Fantastic! Except he’s pretty cute. Cuter than you’d want, really, in your male OB-GYN. Nothing wrong with being cute, but it’s a little disconcerting to be chattering away with my cute, funny doctor about how great the movie Inception was and a few seconds later he’s probing my innards with something resembling tongs. Usually I require dinner and a glass of wine or five for that kind of action.
Yesterday at my doctor’s appointment I asked him what percentage of women poop on the table.
“A little more than half,” he replied.
“Does it bother you? Like you’re going to tell me anyway because I’m your patient and what if I poop…but really, is it…um… Well… Does it bother you?”
“Nope. Not at all. And you know, if someone poops, it confirms they’re pushing from the right area.”
“That’s not very comforting for the person pooping in front of a room full of folks.”
“If you’re so worried about it, you can ask for an enema.”
“Really? I never thought about that. Do I ask for it before the epidural? Because I’m getting an epidural, none of this natural business for me.”
“Yep. Before the epidural. Just ask the nurse.”
“Would you prefer it if all women got an enema?”
“Doesn’t matter to me.”
Like he’s really going to tell me the truth. If I was a doctor I’d be prescribing pre-pushing enemas left and right. Doctor’s orders, I’d say. Hospital policy! Git-r-done, ladies.
Nobody needs a load of poop while on the job. And I’ve worked with poop. A lot. I put myself through high school and college working in nursing homes, and no amount of time ever hardened me to the steaming reality of a fresh load. It sucked every time.
I think I’m going to look into that enema.