“My birth story is better than your birth story” (Why compare? Just share.)
What is it about moms and competition?
Mompetition: The one-up rivalry that moms play making their child seem better, smarter, and/or more advanced than yours. May involve two or more moms and any number of children, even full-grown. (Source: Urban Dictionary)
We all want the cutest child, the funniest, the best dressed, the most clever, the most accomplished, the most advanced, the most obedient, the most you-name-it-fill-in-the-blank.
I’m not even a year-and-a-half into this gig and I’ve already had plenty of opportunities to bite my tongue and hold back the eye roll.
Recently I attended a VBAC class (vaginal birth after caesarean) at our local hospital to learn more about their policies and procedures and what to anticipate for my next birth. It was a fantastic night and I genuinely enjoyed meeting other expectant moms and hearing stories from their previous births as well as hearing their hopes and fears in regards to having VBACs for their upcoming babies.
Each woman briefly shared her labor and birth story. As I listened and tried to absorb it all, I was reminded of so many other conversations I’ve had with moms sharing their own stories.
And I like to hear the stories… for the most part.
But what I don’t like (really don’t like) is that it often seems that one woman shares and then the next tries to “one-up” her in some way. Take these (oversimplified) examples:
I labored longer at home!
I was dilated further when I checked in at the hospital!
I was in more pain!
I thought the pain was a breeze!
My birth was calmer!
My birth was crazier!
I had no drugs!
My epidural didn’t work!
I had the shortest labor ever!
I had the longest labor ever!
I had the shortest stay in the hospital you can imagine!
I had the longest stay in the hospital you can imagine!
I had the biggest tear!
I didn’t tear at all!
My doctor was the best of the best!
My doctor was a monster!
And the list just goes on, and on, and on.
I’m probably one of the few women (mothers) that don’t just eat up those let’s-sit-around-and-tell-our-birth-story sessions. Sure, I like to hear from my friends because I care about them and their experiences. And I like to hear from others too because I’m well aware that we can learn so much about the whole process (and about women in general) just by hearing the vast array of possibilities and experiences that happen through the miracle of birth.
But please, oh please, can we share our stories with a tone and an air that is not giving off a superior vibe? Please can we share with humility? Please can we share in a way that is just real and honest and not implying that I’m tougher/more tolerant/more awesome/more super-mom than the next woman?
Every birth story is different. Every birth story brings with it pain and triumph, emotion and physical exertion. Some seemingly had it “easier” than others… some seemingly had it “harder”. Some endured more heartache or risk… But all it is relative to the individual mom’s experience anyway.
So why compare?
Giving birth is not easy. It’s also not impossible. And just as no precious little baby is alike, no birth is exactly alike either.
Each story – each woman and child – should be celebrated. Instead of getting caught up in comparisons, why don’t we focus on listening, empathizing, and rejoicing along with mothers who need or want to share their stories?
I’m coining a new phrase for relating birth stories: Why compare? Just share.
And this goes for motherhood in general.
“Mompetition” is just plain ugly! Let’s not get caught up in the midst of it. We have enough to worry about without comparing our kids (and ourselves) to the next guy. Comparisons will always leave us feeling either superior or inferior… and ultimately neither one of those things will help us feel more confident as moms or help us be better encouragers, advocates, and friends to other moms.
Dear friends, a bit of a rant today from yours truly… but I hope I’ve been able to convey this without too many fumes. Have you experienced this when in groups sharing about birth stories? How do you hold your tongue and keep your eyes from rolling when the comparisons and one-uping begins? And more importantly, how do you guard yourself from “sharing” in a way that gives off a superior or competitive air? None of us are beyond this unfortunately…