Everyone says the second labor is different. On Monday night, at the auditions (which were a flop BTW), the main organizer, Teresa, was scrunching her face and pausing during her contractions, but laughed them off, saying that she remembered clearly what her son’s labor was like 5 years ago – this may be labor, but it’s not the hard stuff yet.
So, instead of actually having auditions (which would have required people showing up to you know.. audition) and to take the laboring mom’s mind off the pain, we all told our birth stories and talked about the wonderful parts of labor. The rush of adrenalin, the closing in on a deeper part of ourselves, the bonding between parents who labor together, the feeling of your child being born into your waiting arms. Why don’t we talk about this more in our society? Birth is surrounded by so much fear and (hello Puritan forefathers!) shame. Our bodies are seen as unwilling participants that must be prodded along, monitored for cracks. I know I talk about it a lot, and truthfully if it bothers you then we wouldn’t get along very well in real life, because it’s something that I can’t just ignore and accept as part of the American Dream (the same way I can not accept that a woman being raped every 2 minutes is “just the way it is”.) If you haven’t noticed by now, I have a hard time blindly following the norm – I ask too many questions, I am a pest and a trouble maker. It’s one of the things I really like about myself.
So, birth. It’s pretty much awesome and everyone should think so. (See, even I run out of steam sometimes. That and I need to go put on pants and get this day started.)
We talked for over an hour, laughing at each other’s adventures in birthing, and reveling in the miracle we had each experienced (in hospitals, at home, at birth centers, with medication and without – we’re pretty egalitarian about miracles.) I was the only one who had not had (or was not in labor with) my second child, and they all nodded – yes, the second labor is so much different. Sometimes it is longer, often it is much shorter. For those of us with positive first birth experiences, our bodies take to our second labors like they are bored – yeah, we’ve been here before, everyone chill out. There is a great scene in the play where a mom describes the differences between her first birth and her second. Her first birth was birth as entertainment- An “I Love Lucy” skit where, in the confusion and excitement Dezi forgets Lucy on his way to the hospital. “That was my first birth” she says. “This birth is just about showing up.”
Finally we gave up on waiting for an auditioner, packed up our papers and walked out to our cars. Teresa walked slowly, but we all waited for her, and we made sure she had a ride home. An hour after I left her to walk to my car, she gave birth at home to a 9lb little girl, 10 minutes before the midwife could get there (since Teresa was sure she was not in active labor, no one had called her until too late.) She sent out an email the next morning, “Birth really is amazing,” she wrote. “One minute I told Kris it was much more painful than I remembered and we aren’t doing this again, and 15 minutes later there was such release and woosh, gone is the physical memory of the pain. Amazing.”
I agree. Amazing.