Saturday, December 11, 2010

Looking Good for Childbirth? by Sharon O'Donnell

I happened to come across a recent article in The Boston Globe about how many moms-to-be plan to look good for their immediate post-childbirth photos. Damn, I thought labor was my one time to have a really good excuse to look like crap and not worry about it. Don't take that away from me! Yet, there it was in black and white: "Thanks to Facebook and Twitter, giving birth has become a much more public event. Some new moms are primping on the big day." Primping? Seriously? I understand a mom's desire to look halfway decent in photos with her newborn child, but to actually orchestrate it all with manicures, pedicures, and hair styling before and even during labor? Sure, I took some mascara and lipstick with me to apply before I left the hospital, but during labor and immediately after, the way I looked was not what was on my mind.

When I had my oldest son, I was in the hospital in labor for 13 hours, including 2 and a half hours of doing nothing but PUSHING. This all happened from 8 pm until 9 a.m., meaning I lost an entire night's sleep in addition to enduring the most awful pain I'd ever experienced (with the exception of when the fat on my arm gets caught in the automatic car door lock when my arm is resting on the little ledge by the window) . I was exhausted emotionally, physically, and mentally. The photos taken right after my son's birth are evidence of my hard work: dark circles under my eyes, hair a mess, one of those cute hospital gowns having come untied on my shoulder. Sexy, I'm sure. The word 'episiotomy' had just become exceedingly real to me -- I had an 8 and a half pound baby boy I was trying to teach to 'latch on' so I could attempt to breastfeed him, and I was so tired I couldn't lift my head off the pillow. I didn't care how I looked at that moment, and I didn't mind photos capturing the reality of it all; later the next day, I did put on a bit of make-up for a family photo, but that was it.

Ditto and Ditto again for sons 2 and 3. I can't imagine having to plan my wardrobe and hair appointments for in addition to getting ready for a new baby. I understand if some women chose to do this, but I don't want it to become an expectation, the rule instead of the exception. Quite frankly, I think giving birth is enough of an accomplishment for one day -- I'll save looking my best for another day, thank you very much.

And a quote in the article I found interesting was from style blogger Roxanna Sarmiento, mother of three: "But those pictures (after childbirth photos) last forever. Anyone can see them five or 10 years from now. Even future employers."
Okay, let me just say for the record that if a potential employer were to ever decide not to hire me because I didn't look sexy and well-coiffed after just going through labor, then I really, really, wouldn't want to work there in the first place. Is this what the world is coming to? Employers can add your childbirth photos to your application file with your resume and references? "You were the leading candidate for the job, but then we saw your Facebook childbirth photos, and you didn't have on enough eye make-up -- so I'm sorry we'll have to go with someone else."

And George Orwell thought that 1984 was gonna be bad.

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