having a baby

STFU Parents: Live-Posting Labor And Delivery Is Just An Exercise In Narcissism

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The title of a popular post that went up on Huffington Post this week reads ‘New Mom’s Uncensored Photos Reveal The Beautiful, Messy Reality Of Home Birth.’ Before reading through the numerous status updates detailing her labor and delivery, I already knew what this new mom, Ruth Iorio, had written. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that every woman who’s given birth has had a unique experience. No two births are exactly the same, like snowflakes or jelly-filled doughnuts (some doughnuts have WAY more jelly, you know what I’m talking about). And yet, having seen so many STFU, Parents submissions about birth over the years, I’d be lying if I didn’t say they all kind of read the same. This is because no one else can feel what that woman is feeling in the moment. And maybe, just maybe, no one really cares. I’m not saying that to be a jerk; I’m just not sure that this live-posting “experiment” some women have conducted has been revelatory in any significant way, despite whatever the Telegraph might have you believe.

To give birth, certain biological things must happen. The cervix dilates. The word “thick” gets used in ways that make me slightly uncomfortable. Contractions begin, and before you know it, a baby has been delivered. Sure, there’s a lot more that goes into it. Babies are delivered in myriad ways, and not everything always goes as planned. To parents, this process is compelling and unforgettable. But to friends and family, all that really matters is the end result: A healthy and happy mom and baby. That’s it. Sometimes, that’s all people really want to know.

There are a lot of analogies I could use to explain what I mean. For instance, do you want to know about a professional athlete’s daily workout regimen and diet, complete with photos and descriptions, or do you just want to watch that athlete perform during the game? How about when a chef prepares an incredible meal — would you rather know every ingredient and how it was cooked prior to eating it, or do you simply want to enjoy the meal? This is how I believe most people feel about reading through a friend’s labor updates on social media. “Just show us a picture when he or she is born,” thinks the average Facebook friend when scrolling through a half-dozen updates about mucus plugs and the baby dropping. Yes, birth is miraculous, but it also happens 370,000 times a day. It’s a blessing, but it’s commonplace. And to me, there’s nothing especially “revealing” about a new mom’s uncensored updates during labor and delivery — regardless of the method(s) practiced — other than the fact that she’s choosing to reveal those details so publicly.

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