It’s time to talk about poop.

And I’m not talking about baby poop either.  That’s for another day.  I’m talking about real, grown up, dropping-the-kids-off-at-the-pool, I-really-need-to-eat-more-fiber-what-has-fiber?—Kale?-What-do-you-even-do-with-kale? adult dookies.  Specifically, female dookies.  Specifically, mommy dookies.

My entire adult life, I’ve been fascinated with birth stories.  I still love birth stories.  They’re amazing.  I love hearing how women go through pregnancy, create a life, then figure out a way to transform that life from the wriggling gut parasite of fetus-hood into an actual, independent, full human being.  I ask every woman that I know about their pregnancy and birth experiences.  Now that I have pregnancy and birth experiences of my own to share, it all becomes a wonderful bonding moment, full of laughter (Yes! Birth is often funny!  My birth story is hilarious.  I love telling it), tears, emotion, and lots of smiles.

And they have all lied to me.

I know that my girlfriends have all been lying to me, because I am the only woman I know who has produced a child who admits to shitting the bed during delivery.  I did it.  I was trying to push out a baby, and a big brown snake came out instead.  To be fair, it didn’t help that my mother, holding my right leg, was repeatedly shouting in my ear, “Push like you gotta take a poop!  Like you gotta poop!  POOP!!”  It’s hard to ignore that kind of advice.  Also, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing.  The nurse was trying to coach me how to push (that’s another thing they never tell pregnant women.  When the time comes to actually deliver your baby, you feel like you have to push, and you suddenly realize that the whole “How to Actually Get the Baby Out of Your Body” was a chapter that was sorely missing from What to Expect and your eight thousand or so parenting classes).

<Sidebar> Even with an epidural, you *will* feel it when you need to push.  You may not quite trust yourself: “I think I have to push?”  But you’ll feel it. Don’t believe those usually-holier-than-thou, home birth, all natural, have-the-baby-in-the-bathtub women who claim that epidurals make you “numb.”  That’s bullshit.  Epidurals are amazing.  You’re going to feel it.  You’re just not going to feel like you’re dying the in the process.  They take away the sharp pain, leave the pressure and the dull, persistent, cramping pain, and make your butt cheeks feel like they had a shot of Novocain, which is just kind of awesome in and of itself.  Get the epidural. </Sidebar>

So I pushed like I had to poop.  And it made me poop.  After that, I realized that 1. My mother has never delivered a child vaginally.  She had three Cesareans, and had never even experienced a contraction in her life, so listening to her birthing advice was probably going to be useless (My mother, by the way, still swears, in spite of my, my husband, and my father’s testimony, that she never repeatedly yelled, “Push like you gotta take a poop!” while I was delivering.  “Well, that wouldn’t have been very helpful,” she now states.)  I also realized that 2. Pushing to give birth to a baby is a different kind of pushing to any other pushing anyone has ever experienced ever.  It’s not from the top or bottom, but almost from the center of your abdomen, starting with your oblique abdominal muscles and moving into the center of your belly and down.  When I was delivering, it took a long time to figure out how to actually push this way, and I could feel when I did it correctly.  But then my mother would yell about pooping again, so by the next contraction, I was usually right back at square one.

But back to the poop itself.

Honestly?  I would have never known I had pooped while delivering had my nurse (Melissa, who was a giant bucket of Awesome the whole time, except for this one moment) not insisted upon setting up a mirror right in front of my horribly misshapen vagina.  “No, no, I don’t want the mirror,” I pleaded with her, fighting through insane contractions and starting to sweat from the realization that I really WAS going to have to shove this baby out THROUGH MY VAGINA (Yeah, yeah, I know.  Technically, I knew that it was customary to give birth this way, but I really didn’t quite grasp the reality of the whole thing until about ten minutes before I started pushing. I was still, frankly, convinced that the Doctor would buzz in, take one look at me, and say, “Well, this woman can’t possibly deliver vaginally!  To the c-section room with you!  Don’t you worry about a thing.  We’ll knock you out good and hard, so you won’t wake up until the kid’s three.”  I think at one point I even said, timidly, hopefully, “You don’t think we should do a c-section?” I’m pretty sure they just laughed at me.).

“You don’t think you want the mirror, but, trust me.  Lots of women find it inspirational.  You get to see the baby coming out!”

It was not inspirational. 

Sweat, weird patches of hair, stretch marks.  Some papery piece of almost translucent skin they told me was my “perineum” (When you’re a mom, you have “perineum.”  When you’re a normal person, you have a “taint”).   Apparently, I have a birth mark vaguely shaped like Russia on the inside of my upper right thigh that I didn’t know about until that moment.  And in the middle of it all was the top of my daughter’s head, covered with a long thatch of dark hair.  Her head was cool to see for about thirteen seconds.  Hey!  There it is!  The head!  I’m doing it!!  Then, my contraction ended, I took a breath, and she scooted right back inside of me.  Gone.  Two minutes later, I had another contraction, her head started coming through, then, whoop! back in.  I was completely distraught.  This was useless.  Pushing was doing nothing.  We were making no progress.  I hated that mirror.  Then, I watched myself shit the bed.

This is why I think that many of my girlfriends are not intentionally lying to me about their birth poop stories, or lack thereof.  Melissa had that stuff wiped up, cleared away, and changed out before the smell could hit my nose (my husband claims he smelled it, but he’s smart enough to not mention these things to a woman in active labor.  Or a woman in post-baby aftermath.  In fact, he only admitted that he was aware that I had pooped months later, when I was talking about watching myself do it).  If I hadn’t actually seen it happen, I would have never known that it happened.  And that’s what amazing, awesome nurses do.  They deal with blood, and shit, and piss, and puke, and snot all day long.  It’s not a big deal to her, and it wasn’t a big deal to anyone else.  Hell, I was having a baby.  Who cares about poo? 

<Sidebar> If your husband makes stupid comments about you pooping while giving birth to his baby, now is the time to file divorce papers.  If he cares at all about the variety of fluids and solids emerging from all the parts of your body while you are bringing life into this world, unless he does it specifically to make you laugh, or relax you, or for any other reason than he is genuinely disgusted by your body at that moment, take half his shit and move on. </Sidebar> 

I was honestly more fascinated than embarrassed by the whole thing myself.  After all, I had never seen an actual poop coming out of me (Though I guess it looked exactly as I assumed it would).

Here’s the big secret about poop that I learned from my birth experience: Poop is no big deal.  It isn’t.  Really.  Even children’s books tell us that everybody poops, and it’s true.  Everybody does it.  And if you’ve had a vaginal delivery, odds are really good that you’ve done it too.  In front of a room full of people.  And they didn’t care.  Because shit happens.

During one of my gazillion or so parenting classes, we were going around the room asking any questions that we had.  The very first woman who raised her hand said, “Now, I heard that it’s common to poop . . .”  She didn’t even have time to finish before the instructor interrupted her.

“Ahhh, yes, the whole ‘pooping on the table’ question.  Well, first of all, I don’t know why everybody says ‘table.’  You’re not going to be on a table.  You’ll be on a bed,” chuckling to herself.  “But everybody says, ‘poop on the table.’  I don’t really know why!”

It was clear to all of us by the way she dodged the question with this semantic discussion that her real answer was, “Oh, yeah.  Totally.  You are going to poop in front of about 15 strangers.”  The woman who had asked the question looked genuinely horrified at this thought, and I get it.  Poop skeezes people out.  It’s gross.  It’s warm, it’s smelly, it’s everything that your body has rejected.  But that kind of makes it like giving birth in the first place.  It’s not a beautiful process, but it maintains life.  So, ladies, be proud of your birthing poop.  And be happy if you do get that final bowel movement in before the main event. That first poop after baby can be one of the scariest of your life, especially if you had to get an episiotomy.  You WILL be grateful to anything that delays *that* experience, trust me!


My final word on Mama Poop right now is this: The SECOND you find out you’re pregnant, call your OB and ask to be prescribed (right now, I’ve only seen this available via prescription, but the vitamin companies need to get in on this immediately because it is a miracle, right up there with double rainbows and microwaves) the prenatal vitamin with the stool softener already mixed in.  I saw my OB after I hadn’t had a bowel movement in eleven days, and I thought I was literally going to blow up.  After I got that prenatal, I pooed every day of my pregnancy, and THAT is a beautiful, beautiful thing.

So, what say you, mamas?  Did you poop on the table while giving birth? Don’t be shy.  There aren’t any rules here.  It’s the Internet!