Who Had It Worst? The Pregnancy Debate I Love to Avoid

This post was written by our wonderful contributor, Katelyn!

“Being Pregnant SUCKS!”

“Yes, it is absolutely the worst!”

Sometimes I find myself in the midst of a pregnancy-hating conversation. It’s not too hard to find myself in one as I regularly associate with women who are mothers and often with women who are pregnant, so it’s bound to come up. And talking about pregnancies and childbirth is just one of those fascinating things to talk about with other women, because the truth is, all women experience it differently. And some have some pretty awesome stories to share (I once had a friend who did deliver a baby in the car on the way to the hospital and another who’s husband delivered their baby by himself in their home!).

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I love hearing everyone’s stories of pregnancy and birth. From the moment they found out they were pregnant, to the comments they received from strangers, to odd things their OBs did or said. And then all the different birth stories, from beautiful, quick deliveries, to difficult or frightening emergencies.  All of it is thrilling, humbling, and sometimes downright miraculous.

Pregnancy Debate of who had it worst

The Pregnancy Debate of “Who Had It Worse”

However, during these conversations, there is a high chance that the discussion will lead to the great pregnancy battle of “who had it worse.” While the conversation doesn’t necessarily go this route intentionally, it just happens. Sometimes the stories aren’t even about individuals in the room, but their neighbor, cousin, mother, or friend who had a crazy pregnancy story or birth.

And while I have some definite things to boast of in this debate (like carrying twins to almost 38 weeks!), this is one pregnancy comparison game which I usually stand to lose, and I want to lose it.

Because I am one of those lucky “unicorn” women who have relatively easy pregnancies. I never throw up, ever, during my pregnancies. I’m one of those fortunate women who doesn’t have to pee every 15 minutes, who sleep through the night all nine months, who carry their babies like a cute basketball (or mini torpedo) stuck under their shirts, who don’t go into preterm labor, who has never been on bed rest (yes, even with my twin pregnancy), who hasn’t had gestational diabetes or high blood pressure, or wobbled hopelessly like a duck. My C-section was also planned and I was well prepared for it. My vaginal delivery went off without any complications.

However, I am not extremely comfortable during my pregnancy, don’t always feel great, experience some food aversion, am much more tired than usual, get out breath quickly, gain quite a bit of weight, have a huge baby bump, feel great pressure on my legs and crotch, and hate wearing clothes by the end because my stomach is stretched so tautly it hurts. So, though I may now have several stretch marks on my stomach and my butt, a 2+ finger’s width diastis recti, varicose veins, a C-section scar, and a saggy, wrinkly stomach courtesy of my pregnancies, I will never win these “bad pregnancy competitions” by and large.Pregnancy certainly does a number on my body, but I still enjoy being pregnant.

Because, generally, I enjoy being pregnant.

While a few categories I can usually win, like the longest labor (38 hours), furthest past my due date (13 days), number of babies carried at once (2), amount of weight gained (50+ lbs), and the biggest baby (babies) delivered (9lbs 8oz singleton; 6lbs 14 oz and 6lbs 15oz twins – so almost 14lbs of baby at once), I feel sheepish many times to bring such things up!

How can I complain (or brag) when friend “Beth” had hospital bed rest for two long months, threw up all day long, every day, and still delivered a preterm baby in an emergency C-section? And even though I have had miscarriages (which are awful), they were early (7 weeks gestation or earlier) and again, compared to others who have lost children further in their pregnancies, had a stillborn, or lost a child post-birth, how can I complain? How can I really?

I don’t want to make others feel even worse about their experiences. And I certainly don’t want to come off as insensitive to those who suffered.

Truthfully, I never really know what to say during these pregnancy conversations, because I tend to feel like the odd woman out.

I don’t want people to be jealous of my experiences, and I don’t want to be jealous of theirs! Because there are certainly women who have even better pregnancies than me, who don’t even know they are pregnant until they deliver a healthy baby in the hospital. Or women who have quick, pain-free deliveries, and do it all in the comfort of their home.  There are women who gain very little weight, show very little bump, who do kickboxing up until the day before they deliver, and spring back to pre-pregnancy weight almost instantly. There are women who don’t actually get stretch marks or heartburn or hemorrhoids.

The thing about pregnancies is they are as unique and personal as every woman is uniquely she.  No two journeys from conception to delivery are going to be exactly the same, even for the same woman!

And that’s why I don’t want to compete in pregnancy competitions. It’s silly, pointless, and potentially damaging.

Instead I choose to empathize, relate, listen, and acknowledge. Another’s pregnancy journey, whether good or bad, is real and uniquely theirs.

While I don’t love hearing women complain endlessly about being pregnant or over-dramatizing things for the sake of conversation, I allow them some grace. And I hope everyone allows me some grace as I share some good things I experience when I am pregnant in comparison. Because, to me, it’s not a competition we’re having at all. It’s a conversation about one of the most amazing journeys we’ve ever been on in our lives, a unique tale, that is all ours, and one that we should feel privileged to share among friends.

How do you feel about women sharing their easy pregnancy stories? What about their hard ones?When a group of moms get together, chances are pregnancy horror stories, and a competition of "Who had it worst" will commence. Great piece about what to do if these conversations make you feel uneasy. Because everyone's story is uniquely theirs!

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12 Comments

  • Hello =) Well I've never been in a "I've had it worse" disscuion. If I ever found or do find myself in one it would be a very short debate, one of which I would lose straight away. In total I've been pregnant 4 times, first 2 didn't make it. First time, I was in a very violent relationship where he gave me the choice of going to the doctors or him beating it out of me. Thankfully I managed to leave that relationship and are now with the best of the best =) Second time I had a micarriage even before I knew I was pregnant, and it must have been very early on, poor little thing was tiny. Thrid time was with my son (now a year and a half hold), had no problems at all only a few stretch marks - but what mother isn't proud to carry them? No morning sickness, no back pain (even though I've had a broken back in the past), no heartburn... you get the point. He arrived 10 days early weighing 5lbs 5oz and arrived in 10 minutes at the hospital, no pain relief honestly didn't need any), no stitches needed all perfectly wonderful and fine. My fourth, my little daughter (now 13 weeks) was basically just the same throughout - a few strech marks, a bit bigger of a bump (found out at the 16 week scan that she has a cleft lip and gum, but that didn't worry us in the slightest), had no heartburn (even though a lot of people asked me that with the amout of hair she came out with), so yeah I'm sure you get my point again no problems at all with her too. She weighed 5lbs 8oz, came 11 days early and in 3 minutes. Yes you did read that right 3 mintues. She arrived at home. Both times I gained very little weight and was told on both occasions I had the perfect little bump. So yes as you can see, I had it lucky, very lucky. But I must say it is awful to hear other women screaming for more pain relief and all sorts of things. When I was in hospital with my daughter the woman next to me had a baby girl weighing over 10lbs and while I was getting ready to leave the hospital with my daughter a woman came into the ward and just before I left I overheard that she had been in labour for over 40 hours then she had to have an emergency c-section I felt so awful for her, it must have been terrible. Anyone who has it worse than what I did I emphasise with, but I feel it shouldn't, couldn't be a "worse" as everyone, no matter how painful, how long or anything throughout pregnancy and childbirth is special and well woth it from start to finish and for the rest of your lives. Its not just the women I feel for its the fathers as well, many people seem to forget about him and he takes a lot of hardship through it all too. Sorry for such a long comment. Toodles =)
    • Thank you for sharing your story. Every woman's story is different and everyone needs to embrace and feel empowered by their own story =)
  • It's a tender subject... Just listening, acknowledging how a pregnant friend feels. Standing beside them in this amazing experience. I think the 'competition' is less the small the groups. I may even have actively avoided these conversations in larger groups altogether ...I'd rather get up and fix tea/coffee for everyone while they get on with their 'who's going to top that' stories ;-)
    • I agree with you - I didn't write this post (a contributor of mine did), but I just have a small group of friends and I don't feel like we ever tried to one up each other. Just support one each other!
  • Well said, Katelyn. I've never been pregnant myself, so I don't really know how it feels like. But I've heard stories, and I know what you mean by "Who had it worst" lol. I just can't wait to be pregnant. I'm sure the experience would be both exciting and scary. We're planning to start trying next year. Wish us luck! :)
  • I love your story. I would like to hear more beautiful stories about a new mothers experience as a Blessing. Thanks for posting. Sharing. Princess Mousey / Lisa
  • I used to take part in those kind of conversations when I didn't really have anything to complain about. My #5 involved a complicated pregnancy and a scary delivery and complications afterward, and now I keep my mouth shut during those conversations. Sharing my actual emotional trauma in the middle of the 'who had it worse' brag-fest would be awkward.
  • I can usually shut those types of conversations down. :) They're so lame anyway. You CHOSE to get pregnant. The only people who should complain are the Virgin Mary and rape victims. :) Can you tell I'm a great labor nurse? :)

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