The UGLY truth about giving birth

**note: Being that I have had 2 vaginal births and nothing else, this blog is based on those experiences.


Occasionally, I’ll get a wild hair up my ass and decide to start scrolling through albums of old pictures. This is quite the task, since I have about a bajillion of them; especially from the stage where my motto was “Oh! The baby moved an inch! Take another picture!” There are so many that I don’t usually ever get farther back than Holden at 2 years old.

The other day, I did. Along with the standard “awww, they’ve grown up so much!” and “look how tiny he was!” sentimental type comments I made to myself, something else became very very clear to me.

This?? This gave me unrealistic expectations.

Giving birth is not this beautiful, magical experience most people make it out to be. Between the parenting magazines and the celebrity photos in the trashy magazines I can’t resist- I thought my photos of me holding my brand new baby in the hospital would be beautiful. Sure, I’d look a little tired, but I’d have that GLOW everyone insists new mothers have.

Well, according to the albums I was sifting through, that was not the truth.  At least, not according to my FACE. I have a few friends who looked beautiful after just shoving a baby out of their vagina and I hate them all so I know it’s not totally impossible- but it’s not probable. It’s been over 4 years since the last time I popped out a kid, and all these gorgeous, happy, doesn’t look like they just ran a marathon, new mom pictures STILL make me feel bad.

What the hell did I do wrong? Nothing, that’s what! These pictures floating around of models, actresses, hired pretty faces that didn’t actually just give birth but were told to sit in a hospital bed, handed a baby, and told to smile- they’re not REAL. Not REALLY real, anyway. When you have a makeup artist waiting in the wings as you push baby out of your hoo-ha so that your first pictures are sweat, blood, and tear free- you do a large disservice to women everywhere. Yeah, maybe I’m bitter- but I stand by my opinion!

To all who say “Oh, but it’s a magical experience!”-  look, lady, the only thing magical about pushing a baby out of my vagina is how that thing didn’t pack up, call it quits, and run away to join a side show once childbirth was through with it. I sure as hell didn’t take any pictures of my vagina, but I’m pretty sure my face looked just as beat up as it did.

I thought the term “face-melting” was just an expression up until the day I gave birth. You want to see reality?CIMG0864


No glowing, no picture perfect smile- just me. Blubbering. Out of happiness, of course, but it wasn’t pretty! And it certainly wasn’t magical.


CIMG0888I was exhausted, and I felt disgusting, and my hoo-ha was killing me, and my stomach felt weird like a deflated beach ball- and I was ELATED; not only to have my baby in my arms, but to be DONE with pregnancy.

What about Parker? Since I knew the reality of what giving birth does to a lady- was I able to avoid it the second time around?
Well, I put on makeup while I was in labor, and….


Again, happy as could be- but I didn’t take pretty post-birth photos. Not all of us do! I was a hot ass mess, and that’s okay. What the hell does anyone expect? I’d just birthed a damn HUMAN. It’s like being expected to look gorgeous after running a 20 mile marathon. Um. No. Your ass is lucky to still be conscious! Pat your damn self on the back!

You know what else I didn’t do? I didn’t drop the baby weight before leaving the hospital. There’s no way I ever would have graced the cover of a magazine to show off my “Hot post-baby body!” or walk the runway like Heidi Klum a mere 6 weeks after labor and delivery.

I’ll never understand why media and mommy websites perpetuate this image of perfection that hardly anyone could ever attain. I want to see happy moms with BAGS under their eyes. I want to see moms with stains on their shirts from grubby little crotchfruit who know they don’t need to have immaculate clothing (and are aware if they change shirts, it will inevitably get stained too).

If you find the act of giving birth and the privilege of being a mother to be a beautiful thing, no matter how much blood, sweat, tears, guts, snot, poop, placenta, or indistinguishable goo, or babies that resemble potatoes are involved- more power to you! I’m just here to say that if you cringe when looking back at the photos taken in your first moments as a new mommy (and/or the ones for the next month… or six…) you are not alone!

At least we got a cute kid out of the deal!



Posted on February 7, 2014 by Holdin' Holden 8 Comments
Holdin' Holden

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  • Actually… it is beautiful. You look beautiful. And not in that “all-moms-look-beautiful” kind of way. I’m just sayin’: I’ve seen wayyyy worse.


    • Nope! Not at all. It’s gross- especially when I know how I look when I HAVEN’T given birth. The beauty is in the act; in knowing what a woman has just gone through and is still able to sit upright. Not in the boogery swollen face or deflated beach ball stomach!

  • Ugh, my after birth pictures were horrible. I went in for my induction with wet hair so my pixie cut dried straight up (and no one mentioned the flat spot and hair sticking straight up) and thanks to being hooked up to an i.v. more than 24 hours after birth I wasn’t able to take a shower till the 3rd day I was there. Oh yah, I passed hot mess and went for full train wreck. And the medication? Made me retain water so I looked like a blimp. Your pictures look beautiful to me, and I really appreciate you sharing the perfect moment even if you didn’t look “perfect” for the shots.

  • I didn’t manage to get pictures straight after birth but my inlaws visited about 2 hours later, took lots of pictures and proceeded to email them out to every tom dick and harry to announce the birth of their grandson! I was mortified..and still haven’t forgiven them haah!! .. Like you I thought id look all glowing but in truth I looked a hot mess!

  • Thank you for writing this! It’s been 15 years since my last delivery, and I’m still bitter each time I see perky celebumom post-birth photos, or model birth photos in magazines. Great disservice being done to first time moms or women even considering pregnancy that it will be a magical glowy glam affair. No.
    My favorite post birth photo is of me and my now 15 yo daughter with her then 3 yo sister all on my lap in the hospital bed hours after delivery. My oldest trying to feed my youngest, with me looking on lovingly with GIGANTIC purple splotches all over my face because pushing the kid out caused me to break every damn blood vessel in my face.
    Pretty sure my vag was looking better than my face at that point. No matter. I framed that photo, and hung it in the dining room.

  • I know you disagree, but the emotion of pure love and amazement on your face does make you look beautiful! Just sayin’

  • Your husband is a cutie though, and he is glowing lol