We have a (relatively) new baby in the family, and as any mother knows, a new baby inevitably leads to everyone telling their birth stories. Recently, I was telling some women about the baby and we got to talking about labor and how we knew it was time. Some people’s water broke, some had contractions, some cleaned their houses like madwomen, some felt sick.
The day before the boy was born, I lost my mind and went into psycho-nesting mode. But I didn’t recognize this as labor. No – I thought it was totally normal to scrub my walls with Comet, and oh – the horror! I was going to bring a baby home into this filth and how will he ever grow up to be happy if I don’t rearrange furniture and alphabetize my entire food pantry. So, yeah – crazy. Like I said, it all made sense to me at the time and I only had a brief, fleeting thought of labor, which I immediately quashed because of the baby-devouring filth.
No – for me, the signal that I was in labor was the Near Pants-Shitting Incident of 1996. When the first shit signs announced themselves to me, I recalled a particular childbirth class when one of the other expectant moms expressed worry about pooping in the delivery room. The instructor reassured her that 1) she won’t even care when she’s in labor, 2) the doctors and nurses have seen it all, and 3) our bodies often purge themselves right before labor, so it isn’t an issue. Then, I suddenly realized that Holy Shit! Purging! BABY!!!! (I was three weeks early, so I am not sure why I didn’t think “food poisoning” instead of “purging”, but whatever, I was right.)
I know, I know, you are all “Ew, Gross!” right now, but hello – everybody poops. And I’d venture to guess that most of us have had a time when the need to poop came at a very inconvenient time. And I can attest to the fact that stuck on the Bloomfield Bridge during rush hour was indeed a Very Inconvenient Time. And I realized something that day. You have probably heard of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ Stages of Grief, right? Well, that day, I learned that they are pretty much identical to the Stages of Shitting Your Pants. I’ll show you – below I have replaced death/dying with Shitting Your Pants:
Stage 1: Denial
* Denial is usually only a temporary defense for the individual. This feeling is generally replaced with heightened awareness of situations and individuals that will be left behind after
death shitting their pants.
Example – “I feel fine.”; “This can’t be happening, not to me.”
My Example: “Wait, what? Now? No way. It’s just a little gas, that’s all. No problem. I don’t have to go that bad. I can make it home no problem. This traffic is going to let up any minute now.”
Stage 2: Anger
* Once in the second stage, the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue. Because of anger, the person is very difficult to care for due to misplaced feelings of rage and envy. Any individual that symbolizes life or energy is subject to projected resentment and jealousy.
Example – “Why me? It’s not fair!”; “How can this happen to me?”; “Who is to blame?”
My Example: “Dammit! This is ridiculous. I can’t believe this fucking traffic won’t get put of the way! What is WRONG with people? I hate all you fuckers!! Hey – you – Mr Bus Driver – news flash – you do NOT own the road. Get the fuck out of the way! Oh my GOD these people all suck! Yeah – I’m talking to you. I am going to shit my pants and it is ALL YOUR FAULT there, Suzie Subaru!”
Stage 3: Bargaining
* The third stage involves the hope that the individual can somehow postpone or delay
death shitting their pants. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life fecal continence is made with a higher power in exchange for a reformed lifestyle. Psychologically, the person is saying, “I understand I will die shit my pants, but if I could just have more time…”
Example – “Just let me live to see my children graduate.”; “I’ll do anything for a few more years.”; “I will give my life savings if…”
My Example: “Oh please, PLEASE let me make it home. It’s just a few blocks. I will change – I’ll be a better person. I’ll stop saying MOTHERFUCKER!?! Please???”
Stage 4: Depression
* During the fourth stage, the
dying in danger of shitting person begins to understand the certainty of death shitting their pants. Because of this, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time crying and grieving. This process allows the dying in danger of shitting person to disconnect themselves from things of love and affection. It is not recommended to attempt to cheer an individual up that is in this stage. It is an important time for grieving that must be processed.
Example – “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”; “I’m going to die . . . What’s the point?”; “I miss my loved one, why go on?”
My Example: “ I can’t believe this. I don’t deserve this. I have been through so much and this sucks. I am nauseous and I have heartburn and I have to pee all the time and *sniff* I can’t even sleep and *sob* I’m big and fat and ugly and I don’t want to SHIT MY PANTS!”
Stage 5: Acceptance
* This final stage comes with peace and understanding of the
death shit that is approaching. Generally, the person in the fifth stage will want to be left alone. Additionally, feelings and physical pain may be non-existent. This stage has also been described as the end of the dying rectal struggle.
Example – “It’s going to be okay.”; “I can’t fight it, I may as well prepare for it.”
My Example: “It’s fine, really. I’ll just shit my pants and then deal with it. I’m wearing an old ugly baggy maternity dress that I never want to see again anyway. I’ll just deal with it. I mean, I am nine months pregnant for Pete’s sake! If I have to shit my pants, then so be it! Who is going to say anything about it? I’ll tell you who – NO ONE. Because shit happens and I am clearly going into labor any minute and anyone who says anything is an asshole anyway (like that bus driver), so FINE! Come on, shit! I’m ready for you!”
And just so you know, that last stage somehow gave my colon a the little extra oomph that it needed and I made it home in the nick of time*, leaving the car running, the car door and front door open, and scaring the bejeesus out of mr b and the dog in the process. And then I went into labor.
*and for those of you who are feeling bad because you didn’t make it home on time and were looking for some commiseration? Remind to tell you about the time I pooped in a bag. You’ll feel better then.