I carried Luke for nine, long months, some of which were among the worst in my life.
After 18 arduous hours of labor and another 3 hours of pushing, I delivered him via VBAC. For those of you not in the labor-and-delivery-know, this stands for “vaginal birth after cesarean,” and it’s a bit controversial in the OB-GYN community, mostly because the primary risk of attempting one is DEATH, a statistic they aren’t afraid to run by you while you’re maniacally sucking on ice chips, wondering if your husband is EVER GOING TO STOP EATING HARD-BOILED EGGS IN THE DELIVERY ROOM FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, and begging for an epidural.
I also sustained a near-third-degree perineal tear while birthing this baby, which is basically a tear from one you-know-what to the other you-know-what. In other words, I HAD STITCHES IN MY BUTTHOLE. I may have fought death while going for my VBAC, but I honestly welcomed it in lieu of my first postpartum poop.
I had hemorrhoids for MONTHS.
I even contemplated changing my email signature to “Sent from my Sitz Bath. Please excuse typos” because I spent so much time on it.
And do you know what my son’s first word was?
I kid you not, that ungrateful little shit’s first word was “DADA.” I honestly couldn’t believe it. Was this some sort of joke?
At first, I thought it was a fluke. Babies make “Dadadadadmamamama” noises all day long and they sure as hell aren’t talking about you. But no. I tested him a few times. He was definitely saying — and pointing at! — his dad.
And, my husband, ever the empathetic type, gloated. He practically chest bumped our 11-month-old and screamed “IN YOUR FACE!” into my face. In fact, he might actually have, but I was too busy redefining the meaning of everything good and right in the world to notice.
What is it about parenting that is so competitive? Is it all about relationship currency? “I got up three times with the baby last night versus your two, therefore I deserve to sleep in later” kind of stuff?
Is it about always worrying if we are doing enough? I swear there are times where I exaggerate how tough the kids were while my husband was at the gym, or add a few minutes to how early one of them woke up while I was home alone, so that I can seem like I’m momming at 100% versus the 70% I usually feel like. Like, if it’s not SUPERFREAKINGHARD all the time, I’m not doing a good enough job at it. And why do I feel the need to demonstrate this hardcore, martyr-grade momming to my husband, for god’s sake?
I suspect it plays into our deepest need for validation, love and respect, but in some ways it has to be evolutionary. Perhaps we need to compete with one another to be the most liked, fairest, most understood, most impactful to our children, in order to have the greatest cumulative and collective benefit to them. I’m no psychologist but I sincerely hope there’s a good reason for this behavior because it’s pretty exhausting. Almost moreso than the parenting itself.
Fortunately, I effortlessly wine at 100%, ALL of the time, so I can deal with this unnecessary angst quite effectively.
Competitive with your spouse? Share your story.