I don't know if you've noticed, but my most recent sidebar poll said, "What's the grossest part of motherhood?" One of the choices was "other," and I asked those who chose that option for an explanation. I was rewarded with an e-mail from one of my friends, who said she had voted "other" because her choice for the grossest thing, pooping while giving birth, wasn't on the list. She doesn't have any kids yet, but says that the thought of taking a dump on the birthing table scares the crap out of her.*
*Pun totally intended.
This made me laugh, because a few years ago, I was so in that boat. When I was pregnant with my oldest son, I feared that exact thing more than any other aspect of giving birth - even the pain! The thought of squeezing a baby and a used placenta through my va-jay-jay in front of total strangers, and in front of the husband who'd once considered me sexy, didn't faze me ... but the thought of delivering a dump on the table had me paralyzed with fear. And then ... *cue ominous voice* ...
June 7th, 2005, Las Vegas, Nevada: I remember it like I was yesterday. (So okay, that may be because it was the day my first child was born, but still.) I had just began pushing. It was the very first stages, the experimental pushes to see if the baby was moving down like he was supposed to - I don't even think the doctor had been called in yet, just the nurses. I'd had an epidural, so I didn't really feel anything specific. "Push like you're having a bowel movement!" they tell you ... and like a good girl, that's exactly what I did.
That's when I saw the nurse efficiently wipe downward, then fold and dispose of, one of those big absorbent pads that had been underneath me. And the realization dawned on me: oh my God, I must have pooped.
In my head, for months, I had been envisioning the scenario: I would poo on the table and everyone would plug their noses and suppress snickers, thinking how disgusting I am. My doctor would go home to her husband and be like, "Eww, one of my patients shit on the table today. Gross," and they would share a laugh at my expense.
But for all my fears, the poop incident was amazingly anti-climactic. No one - not even my husband, who saw the whole thing (God love him) batted an eye or made a comment. It was quickly and unceremoniously taken care of, and everyone continued to focus on what was really happening: the birth of my baby. Even I didn't focus on it for long, because no one made a big deal out of it. In fact, it was such a non-issue that I had to ask Curtis later if it really happened.
In retrospect, it really wasn't that big of a deal. I mean, yeah, I took a dump in front of strangers: the same strangers who had just inserted my catheter, probed around wrist-deep in my hoo-ha, sopped up the mess when my water broke, and viewed my cellulite-dimpled ass when they helped me tie my gown. Not to mention that they do this kind of stuff for a living, and that a large percentage of women (not just me) take a dump during the birthing process. And when I thought about it that way, I never feared it again. I hoped it wouldn't happen, sure - and with Cameron, it didn't - but if it does, it does.
Even though my perspective has changed now, my biggest birthing fear is - surprise! - still poop-related. It's that first postpartum poop, when you've got to push but your desperate not to bust any stitches ... ouch.