As soon as my water broke with my first child, I started to panic about the mess in my house and insisted that my husband disinfect the bathtub. (And no, I wasn’t planning a water birth). Then, when the contractions came on fast and furious, I demanded that he massage my back with a tennis ball as hard as humanly possible, for about three hours straight. He almost sprained his right hand, but I was the one who was really suffering, so who’s to deny a labouring woman what she needs?
Labour is probably the most gruelling and unforgivingly painful experience a woman will ever go through—it’s no wonder we choose to deal with it however we damn well please. Wanna boss your partner around? That’s fair! Rage eat? Go ahead! Yell obscenities? Well, when else. I asked fellow moms to share some of the strangest things they admit to doing during labour—and they did not disappoint.
Being way too considerate of other people.
“My parents were coming to watch my firstborn so I could go to the hospital to have my second. I waited until I knew they were awake to call them, and then my mom wanted to take a shower. I said “No problem!” even though my contractions were pretty much constant at that point. We barely made it to the hospital in time for the baby to arrive.”
“My kid’s head was literally about to come out, and I made everyone (midwives, doula, partner) stop everything so I could tearfully thank them all for being here. It was a rambling speech—I think I was stalling the imminent birth!”
“With my second, I remember apologizing to my midwives that they both got there and it was taking so long…he was a 90-minute labour.”
Wanting all the useless things.
“I forgot my knee pads and made my husband drive back from the hospital to get them. I was so determined to wear them! Then I forgot all about them.”
“I had an unexpected induction two weeks before my due date. I called my husband and asked him to grab the hospital bag, but also gave him detailed instructions of which makeup and makeup brushes I needed, plus hair products and tools. I did not need or use any of those.”
Stressing about (arguably) insignificant to-do list items.
“I told the doctor that I couldn’t stay to be induced because I had plans to make a lasagna, and the meat in the fridge would go bad. She let me go home to get my hospital bag but made me promise not to make the lasagna.”
“It was the day before Halloween and my son was going as a dinosaur, and while in labour, I sewed him a matching dinosaur bag for candy. I then made calzones from scratch for everyone, including my parents and in-laws who raced over because I was in labour.”
“My labour lasted almost a week. I insisted the kitchen floor needed to be re-tiled and did it myself.”
“I insisted my husband do all the laundry while (it turns out) I was in active labour. I still remember him frantically folding in the corner of the bedroom, then running over to help me get through each contraction.”
“I got my husband to take the laundry out of the washer and hang it to dry and demanded that he NOT get ready to go to the hospital. I was expecting a long labour. It was not.”
Getting into…vulnerable positions.
“I demanded my best friend spread my butt cheeks. I felt like they were touching and it was giving me a panic attack. (I hadn’t slept in days and was pretty much spread eagle. She told me my legs were in the splits and there was no way they were stuck. I made her do it anyway.) Our friendship reached a whole new level.”
“With my second babe, I wouldn’t let anyone except for my husband stand or sit behind me (I stood swaying all through labour) because I felt like my anus was fluttering during every contraction. It’s the only way I can describe it. During active labor, I adamantly refused to push because I was sure my child was just a ginormous poo that couldn’t come out.”
Not noticing you pushed a baby out.
“I was in labor for about 12 hours and I was 10 cm dilated. I had been vomiting all day because I had reflux but I started vomiting even more intensely because of the epidural. After I stopped vomiting I heard the faintest of cries and I thought, where is this coming from? I looked between my legs and there was a baby there! From the force of vomiting I pushed my baby out without realizing it. The doctors and nurses were as shocked as I was!”
Satisfying intense cravings.
“I was convinced I was *starving* and made my husband make fresh cut fries (he had to hand cut, brine them and deep fry them). I ate the equivalent of eight large McDonald’s fries. My midwives said they had never had someone handle their contractions by eating them away. It was later made clear why most people don’t do that during active labor. What. A. Mess.”
“I walked in a blinding snowstorm for kimchi fries from Bahn Mi Boys because they were all I could think about.”
“I walked 15 minutes to the supermarket to get my favorite chocolate cake while in active labour because I was terrified about not being allowed to eat at the hospital. We barely made it to the birthing room before the baby came.”
“I got a blue slushie, drank it, then threw up eight times.”
“I ran out of the house in very active labour with a bowl of gelato and a spoon. I wouldn’t or couldn’t put it down. I ate it during the car ride and while running through the hospital halls between between contractions. It must have been quite the sight.”
“While in labor at home, I insisted on having a fancy pizza delivered, eating the whole pizza while standing in pain AND perfectly clearing the dining table. Only then I’d allow my husband to drive me to the hospital, but let me tell you I didn’t regret that pizza at all because they didn’t allow me to eat after that.”
“I cried when all I wanted was lime Skittles but they changed the green ones to green apple, which were unacceptable. My husband tried to tell me they had always been green apple and I almost murdered him.”
Making questionable choices to get to the hospital.
“I was so certain my labour would progress really quickly that I insisted on taking a cab, BY MYSELF, to the hospital, even though there was a whole plan in place that we’d be able to execute within minutes. When I got to the hospital, the hallway I needed to take to get to the elevators to Labour and Delivery was cordoned off because the floor was being cleaned. I crawled under the Do Not Enter tape—while in active labour.”
“I drove myself to the hospital in active labour as my hubby doesn’t drive. My son was born two hours later!”
“When my midwife arrived at my house, I was already eight centimetres dilated. We called an Uber to get to the birth centre at 4 a.m. and this poor guy, probably 20 years old, looked like he was going to have a heart attack.”
Casually reading a book.
“I read a book during active labour. The nurse was flabbergasted that I was able to stay so calm. But it was my second and I didn’t want to be bored.”
Finding the whole thing hilarious.
“I was laughing during my entire labour. I had a ton of people in the room and we shared stories and jokes. I could hear other ladies screaming bloody murder in other rooms but I couldn’t stop laughing. I guess I’ll just be one of those people that laughs in intense situations. We also got our nurse to play euchre. We needed a fourth for our game!”
Being a little too high.
“I was given Fentanyl and was SO high. When my son came out and they lifted up his gooey bloody body, I started freaking out because I thought I’d pushed so hard my leg had popped off and they were holding it up for me to see.”
“When an epidural was finally put in I felt high as a kite. Literally as though I was flying through space. I asked the anesthesiologist whether epidurals have psychedelic effects. He said no. And then I laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed the loudest I have laughed in my life, for like 10 minutes straight, until people started to worry about me. I had to put all my effort into stopping so I wouldn’t freak out my medical team.”
“I’m pretty sure I hit on the anesthesiologist. I was loopy from the laughing gas, and he happened to be the same guy as my first pregnancy. I don’t fully remember what I said but I was just so happy to see him that he may as well have been Jason Momoa.”
“I was so high on morphine that I asked if my son came out looking cute and said if he didn’t that I didn’t want him.”
Bidding on a house.
“We put an offer in on a house. We were house-hunting in Toronto’s nutty real estate market and our agent had to come to the hospital to get my husband’s signature for the paperwork while I was in labour. We tried to be discreet about it because I was worried about what our midwife would think.
“There wasn’t enough time for an epidural and I was not mentally prepared for a natural birth. I was swearing so much and so loudly that the nurses had to repeatedly remind me to watch my language because ‘we were in a hospital environment.’”
“My water broke the day before my waxing appointment. I made my husband get in the shower with me, get on his knees and shave EVERYTHING! I would hit and grab his back with every contraction! My vanity was more important than his (or my) comfort at that moment! Poor guy.” [Note: Doctors recommend you do not shave before labour.]
“I was in labour, holding a razor and a tweezer debating which part of my body to clean up. I had a pedicure and waxing appointment but went into labour week early. I remember thinking to myself, There’s going to be pictures, what do I need to clean up? I decided on armpits and eyebrows. While pushing, I apologized to the nurse for my hairy legs and ugly toes. ‘I’m really sorry!’ *Push* ‘I had a waxing and nail’ *push* appointment! I tried, I’m sorry!’”
“I insisted on having a shower before birthing my second child. My husband thought we should probably just go to the hospital (my first was pretty quick) but I was having none of it and jumped in the shower anyway. We got to the hospital and kid number two was born within the hour. ”
“My water broke. I looked at my husband and in tandem we both said, “We should cut our nails!’”
Ignoring labour altogether.
“My second birth is the only one where I had an non-induced labour, and I pretty much ignored it. I had three days of prodromal labour where I went to work, chaired a meeting, did an hour-long presentation and participated in a scavenger hunt. When I went into active labour I insisted on showering and gelling my hair, then immediately threw up.”
Doing questionable things in the bathtub.
“For some reason I insisted on fully submerging myself underwater despite my intense hatred of baths. Three people were trying to pull me up so I could breath.”
Shocking the birth team.
“My water wasn’t breaking. They told me to go ahead and push and it would be fine to deliver her in the sac. I believe it was the first push and it burst and sprayed the face of the student midwife, and her glasses flew off.”
“My placenta exploded all over the place and including ending up INSIDE a resident’s shoes somehow.”
VERY last-minute bonding with the firstborn.
“For my second, my contractions started in the morning. After my 18monthol’s nap, I insisted on taking her for a walk on the the boardwalk in her green push car. I had to stop a few times to breathe through contractions. I insisted on eating dinner with her. Insisted on bathing her. Insisted on reading her a book and snuggling her on her rocking chair one more night as my only child before she went to bed. As soon as she laid down, we raced to the hospital.”
“I underestimated how quickly labour would progress with my second, so when I woke up in labour, I sent my husband to work, got my son ready for school, walked him to school and continued straight to the hospital. My daughter was born 45 minutes later.”
“My second was a home birth and my two-year-old was asleep just down the hall. We had heaps of help in case she woke up, but I insisted on having the monitor with me and checking it between contractions and pushes. What I planned to do if she woke up I’m not sure. Luckily she slept through her brother’s birth and woke up bright-eyed and ready to meet her new sibling!”
Hunting for the car keys.
“My husband is constantly losing his car keys and guess who was the sucker on the floor looking under the couch while also trying to hold a baby inside of her? I was not impressed.”
Saying the funniest and most heartbreaking things.
“After pushing for a while (how long, who knows?), and after not having said a thing, I said “I am concerned that we are not making adequate progress.” In my mind, I really didn’t want to appear too demanding or critical of my super-awesome midwife team. Hah.”
“As I was being prepped for my forceps delivery with my first child, I said I hoped I would have an easier vaginal delivery the next time. The whole room laughed. Apparently you don’t usually speculate about how your next delivery will go when you’ve been in labour for over 24 hours.”
“My midwives set up a mirror for me so I could watch my son be born (actually pretty cool) but when I was getting close to actually delivering, I yelled ‘That’s a whole lotta baby in my vagina!’ My midwife and my wife burst out laughing. I just thought it was a simple fact.”
“After just two pushes and the baby came out, my husband said ‘Wow, that was easy.’ Without skipping a beat, I replied, ‘So is a vasectomy.’”
“I sent my wife a now infamous text that said, ‘My water just broke. Have you bought groceries yet?’ Friends subsequently found her wandering around Loblaws in a panicked haze, running around like a chicken with her head cut off, struggling to find any of the items on my shopping list.”
“I forced my husband to take me to Target. I wanted to browse and buy stuff that I definitely didn’t need while my water was already broken. It was definitely an outer body experience. I still laugh at my husband’s desperation to get to the hospital.”
“After my water broke, I went shopping at Home Depot for light bulbs.”
Demanding drugs when it was ridiculously too late.
“With my second child there was no time for anything. I delivered in the dress I wore to the hospital. No time for an epidural so they were going to give me gas, but the doctor said there was no time for that either—so I REFUSED to give birth until they gave it to me. My body was literally pushing my daughter out while I told them I wouldn’t do it without meds. Spoiler: She came out anyway. She still doesn’t listen to me!”
Singing unusual songs.
“After being in the hospital in labour for 13 hours, tethered to the epidural machine, and resigned to the fact that I wasn’t going to have the unmedicated labour I had hoped for, I had a sudden urge to sing show tunes. I started to sing Jesus Christ Superstar, followed by a baby inducing rendition of I Don’t Know How to Love Him. All of this in between contractions and staring at my va-jay-jay from a mirror across from my bed. It was all caught on video. My first born came out before intermission.”
“My daughter was in a Pokémon phase and I couldn’t get the theme song out of my head so I sang the darn theme song over and over again while contracting.”
Wrapping up work.
“Two days before what was supposed to be my last day of work before mat leave, my water broke at three am. I INSISTED my partner drive me in to work at 8 a.m. so I could clean out my desk myself, because the thought of anyone touching my stuff made me shudder. I’d scoop things into boxes, stop to have a contraction, then continue on the task until it was done. Three hours later I had a baby!”
Finally getting that belly casted.
“My water broke at 38 weeks before contractions started and I was about to go out to get my belly casted that night, which I still really wanted to do. So I made my friend come over to my place and cast it anyways while I was in early labour.”
Taking a nap.
“I was at the hospital while in early labour, waiting to have my water broken, after having had an epidural. They told me it would be a couple of hours and I busted out earplugs and face masks for both me and my husband and we took a nap and told the nurse to wake us if anything was amiss. The nurse seemed like she thought this was overkill but this wasn’t our first rodeo—we knew to prioritize sleep.”
Caring about sports.
“While I was being prepped for C-section after two days of induction and failure to progress, my O.R. team was chatting about basketball and I insisted someone check to see if the Raptors had won. (It was Game 7 of the first round in 2016.) But I don’t know why I cared, because I wasn’t into basketball at all at the time. I think I was just overtired and on a lot of drugs and wanted to make conversation.”
“I was very bummed about how far I’d fallen in my work hockey pool.”