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“My birth story is better than your birth story” (Why compare? Just share.)

13 Comments

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…

resolving to just share,

 

 

 

 

13 Comments

  • Reply Holly Young 14 July 2011 at 12:55 am

    THANK YOU for this. 🙂 My husband and I don’t have kids yet, but whenever my girlfriends (who have at least one child) get together, I feel like it becomes a competition of “who can gross ME out and terrify ME the most.” Bleeding…tearing…emergency c-sections…hemoraging….I’m not even going to TRY to spell that correctly. 😉 You name it. It’s really not fun. I’ve kind of gotten to the point where I’ve had to say ENOUGH. Haha. Thank you for this post. Hopefully it will be a wake up call to a lot of other mothers out there! Everyone should be thankful for the opportunity to have children. There are many in the world who struggle. (((On a side-note, I recently did a “mommy blog clean out” of my Google Reader just because my list of blogs was getting out of hand…haha. Yours was one of the few I did keep. I enjoy it very much! 🙂 ))) Sorry this was so long!

    • Reply Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos 15 July 2011 at 11:58 pm

      Oh, thanks Holly. 🙂 Glad you enjoy the blog!

      And yeah, those birth stories around childless women… it’s a tough one. Some childless women just eat it up, but others are completely turned off hearing them! We moms need to be careful when sharing!! I’ve *tried* not to be off-putting when sharing my story around women who’ve not had children… but I supposed I’d have to ask them if that’s what came/comes across. (!) Although, my birth story is pretty tame (in my opinion I think!) so hopefully it wouldn’t be too big of an issue. (hopefully!) 🙂

  • Reply Pez 14 July 2011 at 2:30 am

    Oh man Adriel…so true! I enjoy sharing about my first birth (probably because I’m a nurse and anything like that interests me) so I probably go into too much detail! But I have NEVER heard a birth story after my first birth experience that hasn’t made me feel totally inadequate for both being induced and needing pain relief…every time I tell my story I feel like I have to justify why I needed it…its insane. My husband keeps me in check – he was there – and only he knows how much pain I was in. It DEFINITELY is not the same for everyone (I’ve taken about 5 panadol’s in my life) but I have to learn not to care so much when people do give their high and mighty ‘I did it naturally and I was amazing’ stories…Good luck with the VBAC! I really hope you are able to achieve it because I can imagine how much it means to you…

    • Reply Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos 16 July 2011 at 12:00 am

      Yes, we shouldn’t need to justify our choices! (And I’m sorry that you always feel you have to – but I can totally understand and would probably feel the same.) The thing is, every woman tries to make the best decisions she can for herself and her baby while in labor/birth… so why the need to justify?!! And wow, 5 panadols in your life? Iron Woman right there. You are nuts. 😉

  • Reply Carol 14 July 2011 at 2:57 am

    Well said. I’ve been in these types of conversations and find that I end up not contributing to them at all. It’s hard not to make comparisons, and I find with my two girls I am constantly comparing them to each other (in my mind – not necessarily verbally). It’s almost impossible not to embrace and appreciate their differences. If only we could listen to each other’s stories with the same indifference and tolerance as a mother does with her own children.

  • Reply Courtney @ The Mommy Matters 14 July 2011 at 3:16 am

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I try to keep myself in check when around other moms sharing stories–whether birth stories or kid stories. We’re all human, and I think it’s a natural tendency to try to one-up those around us. But, acknowledging this tendency and being aware of what we’re saying can cut that back a lot. Asking, “Did it really happen like that? Was it really THAT dramatic?” can save a lot of eye rolling. LOL

  • Reply Micheline 14 July 2011 at 6:37 am

    Yes, the mompetition thing just gets tiring, doesn’t it? Especially when it comes to birth stories. I have to say that I had a relatively drama-free experience that I am thankful for more than anything, but I often feel like I have to hold back so as not to make it seem like I’m bragging. I realize that I was lucky in my first go-around, but who knows what could happen with baby girl’s delivery in a few weeks? You are not more of a woman for birthing in one particular fashion. I think it’s fascinating that there can be such a wide range of experiences and we should embrace this diversity.

    • Reply Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos 16 July 2011 at 12:03 am

      Yes, it is fascinating! AND you should be able to share your story “like it is” without feeling like you’re bragging. It just needs to be peppered with a tone of humility (which I can imagine you’d have anyway!!). Don’t hold back! I think those awesome drama-free stories are important too – especially around childless women and expecting mums!! (They don’t need to be inundated with birth horror stories!)

  • Reply Liz Barber 14 July 2011 at 11:09 am

    there are some mom blogs I read where I come away feeling awful cause my kids aren’t as advanced the ones I read about. I guess i do my own comparing and have had to learn to let it go. It’s hard cause there are areas I want to my boys to excel in and they are behind developmentally.

    • Reply Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos 16 July 2011 at 12:06 am

      Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that! It’s hard not to compare, but I’ve learned that there are some things Levi excels at, and other things he doesn’t (when measuring up to the next kid I mean). So even if you’re reading stuff that makes someone else’s kid seem more advanced, just remember they’re most likely not writing about the areas their kid is lagging behind in! It is hard though, as you say. Every mom wants their kid to excel and succeed!

  • Reply Krystle 15 July 2011 at 5:46 am

    I definitley have posted something similar to this. I HATE this competition thing. Even in people’s blog posts and FB updates there is this “air” about the way they go on and on about what their kids are doing (usually at an advanced age of course) We can be proud of our kids, but somethings are meant for your personal journal…not blogosphere 🙂

    Thanks for posting this!

    • Reply Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos 16 July 2011 at 12:09 am

      Oh, that’s a tough one. You really have to know the person to understand what they mean! I know that I could post something about Levi’s latest accomplishment and most of my fb friends/family would know I’m just sharing and keeping them in the loop (I live on another continent!). But you’re right, if people didn’t know me as well they could just think it’s bragging. That’s a really tough one! We need to choose our words wisely don’t we?

  • Reply Laura 16 July 2011 at 2:59 am

    Ugh, why does mompetition ever rear its ugly head? Like it’s not hard enough to be the best parent you can be to your own individual child(ren) without having to try to defend your choices or past history?
    To answer your question, I try to guard against the mompetition by not sharing my birth story unless someone asks. And when they do, I always remember to say something like, “But really the most important part of the story is that I had her, and she was healthy, and I lived.” Because in the end, all we really want is for someone to acknowledge that we survived it, and lived to tell the tale. It doesn’t matter whether we had drugs or not, or had to have a c-section or not – we all had a baby and lived.

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