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Why I’m Keeping My Labor & Delivery (Mostly) a Secret

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I’ve been pretty lucky to have endless love and support throughout my pregnancy. The baby’s father and I have a great big circle of family and friends who have reached out and taken care of our needs. However, I’ve been letting my family and friends know as gently as I can about a (clearly unpopular) decision I’ve made, mainly so that they aren’t blindsided when it all goes down.

I know some people like to have everybody around, waiting for the big moment, ready to pop the champagne and light the cigars. (That’s what they do right?) I’ve heard about women who live-stream their birth online or have a professional photographer to document the whole process.  I, however, want a tad more privacy and have decided I’m not telling anybody when I go to the hospital. Okay, well, not “anybody.” I’m telling my mom, who I live with, and the baby’s father, who has to fly here from New York, and my Doula, who will be my trained professional right-hand lady, but as for everyone else? Sorry, nope.

I didn’t come up with this idea on my own, I mainly just thought it was a good one when I heard other women had done the same thing. I probably should have guessed not everybody would think so though. My cousin, who is my closest relative and the baby’s Godmother, was not exactly thrilled with me. My two best friends were totally let down. My dad was positively annoyed. I mean, they accepted my decision like good, decent human beings, but I could tell this was not something they enjoyed hearing. I, however, think I have excellent reasons and I’m sticking to my guns.

The biggest and most important reason is that I want the first thing people hear to be the good news that my baby was born healthy and safe, and not to be fretting over however many hours of labor I’m in, or about how it’s all going. I mean, think how great it is to hear a beautiful new baby has arrived, as opposed to how nerve-wracking the waiting game of labor is. I have heard all the birth stories, many first hand, and I know I can’t predict how mine will go. If my labor is super long and arduous, if my birth plan gets scrapped and thrown out the window, if I need an emergency C-Section, if there are complications or really any other issue, I don’t want to feel obliged to update the dozens of loved ones waiting for good news. I don’t want any added pressure. The last thing I need when I’m in pain and nervous is the collective anxiety of my friends and family hanging over my head.

I also don’t want visitors while I’m in labor. The actual labor process seems stressful enough, the last thing anybody should be doing is waiting around in an uncomfortable waiting room or waiting to see me and hold the baby, only to have me kick them out of my room the second they try to walk in. I don’t want to sound selfish but from what I’ve learned — from my classes, my preparation with my doula, and my friend’s experiences — I will not be in the mood for visitors. I will be exhausted. I will want to focus on me and the father bonding with the baby alone, establishing breastfeeding, and sleeping when the baby sleeps. There is plenty of time after we’ve recovered a little and gotten some mommy-daddy bonding time for all the well-wishers to come and meet my daughter.

It’s not that I’m totally against all hospital visitors after a certain point, it’s just that I want time to recuperate after the whole ordeal and the hospital is busy, and there will be a lot of things happening after I give birth for which I’ll want privacy and the ability to, say, be topless and not have five people standing around while I’m examined and in need of a shower and trying to breastfeed for the first time in my entire life.

I want everybody to meet the baby, but hospitals do give me a bit of the willies, and I’m nervous about lots of unwashed hands holding her, about staph infections and germs being passed around, and more people will just add to that anxiety. Which brings me to the point that I’m also trying to avoid having an actual anxiety attack. I don’t want to worry about my phone. I don’t want to have to answer calls or texts or look at Facebook. In the room, I also don’t want to worry if people are comfortable or hungry or sleepy. I don’t want people eating in front of me or being loud or commenting on anything I’m doing really. And the last thing I want is to feel like a nag or a brat when I inevitably tell them to knock it off.  What I want is to focus on having this baby as calmly and safely as I can.

I know how much my loved ones want to be there, to support me, and to show me how much they love me. I know that a new baby is exciting and that it’s a big, thrilling moment, but I also don’t think that waiting for all the juicy details, or to visit us until she’s actually here and I’ve had a little rest and a chance to process things, is too much to ask. As of right now, this is the only baby I ever intend to have, and I get one shot at it. It’s going to be the most meaningful experience I’ve ever been through and I think it’s one of the few instances where it’s truly okay for me to put my foot down, guilt-free, and say, I want it the way I want it. I may not be able to control every detail of how she comes into this world, but I am going to be in charge of the things I can control.

However, I am a pregnant lady, who isn’t always completely in control of her hormone-fueled emotions, and I reserve the right to change my mind about everything I’ve said and have the whole thing documented live on “The View.”  I think I could appreciate Whoopi’s perspective.

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