Kate Middleton is reportedly telling friends about her “perfect birth.” A source told Vanity Fair’s royals reporter Katie Nicholl that, “She spoke to some of her best girlfriends after the birth and described the birth as perfect. She said it was straightforward and there were no complications. She wanted a natural birth and she was so happy she was able to have one.”
Let’s get one thing straight here: I like the Duchess of Cambridge. She is elegant, polished and quiet, which seems to be what the Royal Family expects of their princesses. I was excited to watch her pregnancy progress and the first sighting of George in his parents’ arms on the steps of St. Mary’s brought tears to my eyes.
That said, anyone who describes their birth as “perfect” is worthy of serious skepticism from me. Birth is a wonderful thing–what the human body can do is something to be celebrated. But I have a hard time believing that her experience was perfect, probably because mine was anything but.
First of all, there’s the mechanics of it: A 7-8 lb. baby has to come out of a vagina. The vagina is an incredible muscle (yes, it’s a muscle!), but getting the cervix to dilate to 10 cm. and then squeezing a baby out of that hole is no walk in the park.
My first child, a daughter, was born after 16 hours of labor and five minutes of pushing. I can say, without a trace of doubt, that the time spent laboring before an epidural was administered was the most painful, terrifying experience of my life. I was in a beautiful, clean, safe environment (Cedars Sinai hospital in Los Angeles) and had a wonderful doctor, but the pain was something that I had never felt before. My daughter was born vaginally and came out quickly. But at one point I did happen to get a glimpse in the mirror as the doctor was stitching me up afterward and it looked like a massacre had occurred. So, no, not really perfect.
My son was born two years later. After an easy pregnancy, I got pre-eclampsia a day before my due date. I was rushed to the ER and given magnesium sulfate to prevent a stroke. I spent the next five days lying flat on my back because whenever I would sit up, my blood pressure would rise to dangerously high levels. My son came out quickly and relatively easily, but after being on “mag,” which one doctor described as “like being hit by a truck,” I could have delivered triplets and been fine with it. I spent the month after his birth pumping and dumping to keep up my breast milk (which I couldn’t feed my son because of the strong blood pressure medication I was on), while simultaneously bottle-feeding and taking care of my two-year-old daughter.
So, no. I wouldn’t call either of those experiences perfect. I wouldn’t call my children perfect, either. Did I go to hell and back to have both of them? Kinda. Would I do it again for my babies? Absolutely. But it wasn’t perfect.