My birth plan included red lipstick and fake eyelashes. I’d even Googled “red lipstick in labor” to see if anyone else was feeling as bold as I was. Not much luck. I got a post telling me to wear waterproof mascara – not what I was looking for. Call me shallow. Call me narcissistic. But I called it living out my inner feminist and I was hoping to find another momma who’d shared my gusto. I mean, at what point in a woman’s life is she more in touch with her inner warrior-goddess than when she’s giving birth? I wanted to look as radiant, glowing and ferocious on the outside as I felt on the inside. I was even resolved to do it without meds, something many of my mommy friends raised their eyebrows at. I mean, my mom did it without meds so I should, surely, be able to do the same right?
When I mentioned my vision of labor – red lips, glam lashes and no meds – I opened up the door to a flurry of strange looks, raised eyebrows and I’m sure many an internal dialogue that friends didn’t verbalize. These two tenants in my plan seemed to be polar opposites to other folks, but honestly, it wasn’t their labor. They hadn’t carried this little bundle of joy for nine months. They weren’t going to try to squeeze something the size of an orange out of something the size of their nostril (proportionately speaking). So, thanks for the thoughts, y’all, but this is my baby, my vagina, my birth plan and my way 🙂 I was sticking to my guns. I was going to rock some red lipstick in labor and do it the old-fashioned way…
As much as I champion women who want to rock red lipstick in labor, I’m also a staunch believe that women have the right to change their minds. And change them again. Thus, scrawled across the top of my birth plan, in big bold letters, was “This is the plan until I say it isn’t.” As all of you reading this who have been in labor before know, this is especially true during childbirth. Labor isn’t really something you can plan. Let’s be honest, the term “birth plan” is really an oxymoron. Now, it should be known that I wasn’t THAT naive to think labor would happen exactly according to my plan. I mean, I’d been to classes, read my Ina May Gaskin book and was totally at peace with the fact that our little love-bug would make his entrance into the world however he saw fit and there wasn’t anything I could do to change that.
I had a flexible mindset regarding labor. The kicker here, though, was that in my mind “labor” (the intense, screaming, otherworldly experience) occurred at the hospital. In my mind, we’d lounge about at home in between contractions until they got to 3-4 minutes apart for an hour. In my mind, and written in my birth plan, I’d have time to take a shower, blow-dry my cute bob, put on my mascara, fake eye lashes and throw on a coat of my favorite MAC Lipglass.
Well, my water broke at 7am on Sunday, February 3rd – a day after my due date. But, contractions didn’t start right away. I was thinking, this is what I’d planned – let the lounging and prepping commence. When I felt my first contraction, I decided it was time to head upstairs and take a shower so I’d be ready when it was time to go in a few hours. By the time I reached the bathroom, I realized that things were happening a bit faster than anticipated. Go figure. I could barely get dressed – the contractions were so intense and left me with no time to recover before the next one hit. As I stood over my vanity, barely able to put on my Bare Minerals, I was beginning to think that applying my fake lashes might result in me gluing my eyes shut it I attempted them in my current state. So, I grit my teeth and put on my Bare Minerals until the next contraction hit. Then I’d walk to the closet, bend over the window seat in pain, and when it was over head back to the vanity to apply the next step in my make-up routine. If there wasn’t time or physical ability to wear my fake lashes and red lipstick, I was at least going to put on some blush and mascara 🙂 Though it was a bit of a hack-job application, I left the house feeling like the warrior-goddess I was. I was also feeling pain like I’d never known, but I was a warrior-goddess nonetheless. To make a short story shorter, we arrived at the hospital in active labor. I changed my mind – because I had the right to – and requested an epidural. However, by the time they got it all ready I was 10cm dilated and ready to push. Back to the original plan it was. I closed my eyes and imagined my inner warrior-goddess rocking red lips, and pushed. Several pushes later our little guy was in my arms.
While, in the end, I didn’t rock my red lips and lashes…I don’t look back and think it was silly of me to want that. For the most part, my “plan” to rock my inner and external warrior-goddess happened in some way, shape or form. In fact, next baby I might just wake up every day in the days leading up to my due date, and put on my lashes and lips just to make sure I don’t miss the chance again. I share this not to start a trend of women laboring with red lipstick (though that would be amazing), but because it’s symbolic of my greater beliefs. Symbolic of our strength as women. Our beauty – whatever that means to you. Our agency. Symbolic of a woman’s right to make choices that are right for HER, and HER alone, at that moment. Knowing that she might make a different choice in the same situation in the future that doesn’t mean that one choice was right and the other wrong. So, don’t let anyone talk you out of wearing your proverbial red lipstick. Whatever your “red lipstick” is, rock it proudly, ladies, and reserve the right to change your mind.
Happy International Women’s Day.
photo courtesy of Pinterest here http://pinterest.com/pin/259519997247135810/