When it comes to the business of birth and babies, we’re used to seeing something specific. Squeaky-clean babies photographed nicely against cheerful backdrops. Moms and dads with enough concealer under their eyes to spackle a dorm room poster wall. All of Mom’s jiggle bits are well restrained, and Dad has shaved his five-o’clock shadow or at least wiped the puke from it.
And it’s so nice that you sort of coo and give it a thumbs-up and never even let the reality enter your mind. The reality that says childbirth is messy as hell, babies come out a hot, gooey mess, and Mom has got a diaper on, the purpose of which is to catch a deluge of discharge and blood that would rival the scene from Carrie. That’s the side one mom wanted to highlight when she posted her viral postpartum pic on Facebook on Wednesday.
Amanda Bacon summed up her post with two words: “Motherhood uncensored.” And boy, is it ever. Glancing at it, it just looks like a happy dad with a brand-new baby in a dark hospital room. Look closer, and you’ll see Bacon herself, shirtless, with her hair up, standing a little bowlegged with nothing on but a big ol’ mesh nappy:
It’s no wonder people love the picture. It’s hard not to love someone who is so unapologetically realistic about what those first moments after birth look like. Sure, they’re blissful. But they have to be, because it anesthetizes you to the fact that you’ll be waddling around in chunks of your own body for a few weeks. That your breasts hurt and your vagina is sore and that you won’t poop for days.
It’s so amazing. It’s also so gross and sucky.
And who wouldn’t love Bacon’s smiling partner, who is familiar enough with the process to give it a wry thumbs-up instead of a horrified grimace? It’s important to have a sense of humor. Not everything has to be shrouded in feminine mystery that ignores the “icky” stuff or venerated as a gift from your inner goddess. Sometimes it can just be a weird thing your body does.
In her post, Bacon says, “Nothing says welcome to motherhood like an adorable squishy baby, and a giant mom diaper,” and that’s totally true. Somehow we’ve all reached this common, unspoken agreement to never utter words like “mucus plus” or “lochia” or “spontaneous defecation.”
Instead we’re supposed to imagine and act like giving birth is akin to waving a sparkle wand in front of your vagina, magicking your clean, perfumed baby out on gossamer rose-scented wings. And that’s kind of a garbage thing to do. Because even if you know it’s not really like that, your first time in the maternity ward will be a surprise. You won’t be expecting the mom diaper. No one expects the mom diaper.
And sure, not everyone might be comfy sharing shots of their beswaddled bum on Facebook, but with the response this post has gotten, it seems like at least we’re all ready to stop pretending that the grittier, gooier parts of birth don’t really exist.