Here’s the thing: I’m not exactly the most modest person out there, but I do have reasonable boundaries about who is and isn’t allowed free access to my boobs without asking first. While I agree with John Mayer that my body is a wonderland, it’s not exactly open for business.
That is, until I got pregnant.
Pregnancy, it turns out, opens you up to a whole new ball game. From random belly touches from strangers to fast and loose cervix checks on the reg, my physical boundaries started to crumble. Overnight, my body became more like a baby machine to tweak, prod, and pull than this sacred specimen the baby books told me it was. And oddly enough, on the day of my daughter’s birth, I was cool with a million things happening to me that I might previously had balked at.
Things like …
1. Strangers manhandling my boobs.
Before pregnancy, I was fairly selective about who could touch my boobs, especially after becoming married. Not even my closest friends have ventured into that territory. Yet oddly enough, I had no problem with a young nurse fresh from college picking one up like a large pork roast to help me feed my newborn baby.
“Hello, I’m here to manhandle, and at times, lightly squeeze your boobs to teach you how to put it in your baby’s mouth,” she told me. “I’ll also be inspecting your nipples, particularly the inverted one.”
Okay, so those weren’t her exact words, but whatever she said didn’t phase my ordinarily shy personality. I don’t even like going to Victoria’s Secret to get my bra fitted, mostly because I don’t like skinny 18-year-olds telling me I’m in denial about my bra size … but I digress.
Turns out, I was not only cool with it, I was thankful. It’s like Mother Nature handed me two giant bazookas with marching orders, but no operating instructions. When a bazooka expert enters the room to save the day, you let them.
2. Numerous people rummaging around my vagina.
By the time I was ready to give birth, I had grown accustomed to my OB rummaging around in my vagina. But when you go to the hospital for delivery, it’s like your crotch is a clearance bin at a department store. Unfortunately, that’s because it’s the main source of information — the Google of privates, if you will. How far am I dilated? Where is the head positioned? Is there any bloody show? Where’s a good Mexican restaurant?
Usually when you meet someone new, you shake hands. During childbirth, everyone just cuts the formalities and goes right in. I’d normally be offended by this departure from social etiquette, but contractions have a way of prioritizing things quickly.
3. Lying spread eagle in a room full of people for a couple hours.
About a week before going into childbirth, a good family friend shared a photo of himself holding his baby just moments after being born. As we all gushed over the photo, we both noticed something rather eye-catching in the background: his wife, still spread eagle, talking casually with a nurse like they were out to lunch. Needless to say, he deleted the photo quickly.
Both my mom and my sister joined my husband and me in the delivery room, where they carefully stayed by my head the entire time. Once my daughter was born, they both walked over to where she was being weighed and measured to ogle over her. What they didn’t realize is that they had walked right over to the danger zone. All they had to do was turn around to look right into the eye of the hurricane (if you catch my drift).
I don’t remember specifics, but I do recall that I was asking the nurse for a Dr. Pepper with ice when I did a triple take to see my mom and sister looking in my general direction, disturbed. They had eventually turned around to see me, still spread eagle, and froze like they met the eyes of Medusa.
“Look away!” was all I managed to say, because I was in the middle of bargaining with my nurse who said I still needed to drink clear fluids. I think they did look away eventually, although I can’t be sure — I was too busy chugging a giant ice water with two hands.
4. Peeing on a nurse I’m pretty sure I babysat in the ’90s.
As we were preparing for my doctor to arrive, my nurse — who I’m fairly certain that I once babysat in the ’90s — had me push. (I had to get the baby ready for my doctor to stroll in, catch, and then get back to the steak dinner she had to abandon.) But as I pushed, I noticed the nurse’s eyes widened a little. Suddenly, she turned and asked the other nurse to grab some towels. I’m not a doctor, but I knew something was amiss.
“Am I pooping?!” I asked, terrified. Out of all the things to fear during childbirth, pooping was higher on my list than it probably should have been.
“No, no,” she assured me. “You peed. We’ll just get a catheter in, no big deal.”
In that moment, I was overwhelmed with relief — yes, relief — that I had peed on a nurse rather than do … well, God knows what else. I didn’t even apologize, because it just seemed like part of the experience. I was cool with it, she was cool with it, and as my husband continued to watch football, he seemed cool with it, too.
All in all, the whole childbirth debacle is just … odd. There’s no other way to say it. Yet at the same time, it’s normal, natural, and beautiful. The act of giving birth has been a miraculous feat since the beginning of human life. Even so, when I fondly look back on the entire experience, I can simultaneously acknowledge that the whole thing is also all sorts of crazy.
But it’s the day my baby suddenly came into this world — a day I wouldn’t change one bit.
What struck me most about my little girl was that her eyes were wide open as my doctor guided her out. “What the heck is going on here?” she seemed to ask, as she looked around at all of us. “Who’s in charge?!”
If I could have answered her then, I would have said, “It is madness out here, little one. Crazy, wacky madness, guised as preparation to make way for your arrival. But sometimes, life on this earth gets weird. My advice is to just roll with it.”More On