I have come across quite a few posts in new mommy forums where the anxious mommies to be all ask what contractions are like. A lot of the time the answer is that they are like really bad periods. To those women, I hold up my middle finger, because clearly they don’t know what a bad period IS. Trust me on this one. I deal with bad periods and I actually prefer labor. I mean, sure, it wasn’t fun, but after a few days out of the month of sheer hell, labor was like a freaking vacation.
Some would think I was over-exaggerating my pain or that labor would put my period in perspective. Maybe after nearly two years of not having one, I forget what they were like. Maybe I built it up in my mind as worse than it is. Maybe it will be easier now that I faced labor.
HAH! Leave it to Mother Nature to fuck with me and say “sorry, but you’re not getting off that easy”.
I believe I may be reminded soon of my period hell, because a few days ago I got those oh so familiar twinges. And yes, they feel like labor. Oh, and super fun fact I discovered: apparently my body could “start up” my cycle without the actual period for months before I get it for real. FML!
So while I’m suffering this hell that Mother Nature has unleashed on me yet again, let me count the ways that a period is worse than labor.
1) Cramps are unpredictable. When I was in labor I knew when the contractions were coming. I knew they would gradually get stronger in intensity and then they would stop and I would get a break. My cramps, however, have no such timing. They can crop up without any warning and be mother fucking painful so I can barely stand…and then I have no idea how long that pain will last. Could be a few minutes, could be hours. In my case I spent TWO DAYS with cramps coming in strong surges for hours. Then they would go away. Then I would wake up and think they were over and BAM! More pain. Not at all like early labor or pre-labor either. This is full-on powerful cramping out of NOWHERE!
2) Changing position does not help. In labor when the pain of contractions intensified I would lean forward or squat down. It helped take the edge off and made labor easy to cope with even in its intense moments. I tried this with my cramps. It. Did. Nothing.
3) Breathing Techniques are a waste of time. In labor I could breathe through my contractions and work with them. Tried to breathe through my cramps and it didn’t help. So sucks to that.
4) There is no peak. With contractions there is a point where you hit the worst part and then the surge lessens and dissipates. You breathe out a sigh of relief and get a few minutes to relax. Not so with cramps. They just keep coming and coming and the intensity is the same the whole time. Like transition, but with less control. Horrible.
5) They are continuous. Contractions have a beginning and an end. There is usually a 2-5 minute break between them during active labor and a longer break in early labor. With cramps there is no discernible beginning and end. It’s like one big, long contraction with several peaks and no break. The dull ache remains the whole time and can stay all day even as the surges of real pain subside. At least in labor I had a break from the pain. Even the back labor wasn’t as annoying as this.
6) Drugs don’t take it away. I know they all SAY that a Tylenol or Advil will help, but I have taken double doses sometimes (and added codeine to the equation and been high as a kite off of those pills) and it has done very little to alleviate the cramps. Now, with labor I was offered drugs that WOULD help and I turned them down, but at least you know that’s an option. With my period the doctor wrote me a prescription for Naproxen and Tylenol. So yeah, pain not being taken seriously is a major difference from labor.
7) I don’t know how long it will last. With labor I knew the pain would end when I was 10cm and ready to push. This pain could go on for a few hours, a day, two days, or the whoke f-ing week. There is no way to predict how long it will last and while labor is sort of like that too, at least in labor there is progress being made. Your body is working toward something and you can actually tell when you’re nearing the end because you’ll feel the baby coming. Not so with my period. I have no idea when my uterus is done being an asshole to me until I stop bleeding…and first I have to start that process, which could also be days away.
8) This happens monthly. Labor is something I’m going to face maybe once or twice in my lifetime, and even if I had a baby every year I would still only face it for one day out of the year. Maybe a few days if labor is long, but still it’s only a few days out of the year. My period occurs once a freaking month. So every month I get to look forward to pain of which I cannot control and have no idea of its intensity or length. Every. Freaking. Month. Put into perspective I would rather be pregnant every year, except that’s insane and kids are a lot of work. I often wonder how those Quiverfull nutjobs the Duggars manage to even have sex with so many kids, because while we do have a sex life I still often choose sleep instead. Or our son just won’t sleep long enough for us to do it. Kids are a good form of birth control is what I’m saying.
9) There is no reward. The whole point of labor is to birth a baby, which in itself is a reward for going through nine months of pregnancy. The whole time I was in labor, that was my focus. That was why I was able to hold on and take each contraction as they came. I knew that each surge would bring me closer to the moment I would get to hold my son. So I endured. With my period there is no reward. There is only the pain and the eventual blood and that’s it. With nothing to work towards all I have is the pain and misery. And all I can do is beg for the period to actually start so I can bleed for five days and then get a break for three weeks before starting the whole miserable cycle all over again.
10) Labor promised a break from my period. This is where I really feel like Mother Nature is a cruel bitch. See, when I was pregnant I got a break from the torture. I got to see what it was like to not suffer needlessly every month and after two weeks of lochia with no painful cramps I got to enjoy a full year of no period. Breastfeeding kept the little bastard away and now that my son is a year old Mother Nature has decided the time has come to put an end to my happiness. So now I’m waiting for the damn thing to start and in the meantime the cramps are once again as painful as they ever were. It makes me almost wish I was pregnant again. Almost. I kinda have this preference to have my son out of diapers before we decide to give him a sibling.
So there you have it, people! This is what I’m talking about when I say labor was no big deal for me. One time when I was cramping my boss/friend actually asked me how I could STAND, let alone WORK. She could see the pain in my eyes. She told me to go to the doctor and ask for something to cope with that pain. I did. I got Tylenol.
The cruelest part of all? I have NO reason to be having this pain. When they did the ultrasounds during my pregnancy everything was FINE. No cysts, no endometriosis. Going on birth control pills does not help. There is no medical explanation for why my uterus wants to torture me; it just DOES. Mother Nature is an evil, sadistic bitch.
Also, the cramps have subsided today. There won’t be a period this month. But it’s coming. My only solace is that I will only have maybe one or two years to deal with it, and then I get to be pregnant again and skip it for a while longer. After that, well, maybe I’ll go into menopause early? I doubt it since I started the damn cycle so late in my teens, but I can always hope, right? Then maybe I’ll stop having violent fantasies where I tear my own uterus out with my bare hands.