On the insistence of my in laws, we signed up for a birthing class. It’s an “intensive, two-day seminar” to get expectant parents “in the know” on all things baby and birthing. For the sake of scientific curiosity, I wanted to document the entire two-day process from start to finish.
The first thing we did with what little time we had before our 6pm class was go to the McDonald’s down the street. Angela had a pretty tough day at work, so she agreed to go there to eat her feelings. I don’t need an excuse to crush McDoubles (AKA McDubs, Dubs, DJamz), but I probably should. I scarfed my burger in the car as we sped towards the Alexandria Innova Hospital in light to moderate traffic. Innova is also the location where Zelda will be entering into the light world in less than a month. LESS THAN A MONTH. Jesus.
We get to the hospital and walked the very long and brisk walk towards the visitor entrance. The classroom was completely empty at 6:45. This was mostly due to the fact that a. the classroom was hard to get to on the other side of the hospital and b. we had to walk up a long flight of stairs to get to it. Come on. No elevator? Eight months pregnant? No problem!
The RN Instructor greeted us warmly(ish) and told us we had our pick of where to sit. I chose the middle of the classroom, because that is where the cool people really sit. By the time we signed in, another couple had arrived. They were carrying a big bag of what I can only assume was “stuff.” I guessed it had something to do with the class. Were we supposed to bring something this evening? Dammit. It’s like the it’s day of school all over again, and I’ve forgotten to bring my colored pencils. I am coming home with just a “satisfactory” sticker for the day.
More couples begin to show up. All of them have bags of “stuff.” Angela swears up and down that we did not need to bring anything. Eventually, a couple shows up WITHOUT a bag. Phew. At least we will not be the only assholes that have not come prepared. [Update: We didn’t need to bring anything.]
The class is just about full. Looking around, I am noticing that most of the women in here at least “look” like they are around Angela’s age. That means that some of these women are going through the ridiculous notion that they are “advanced age” and a “high risk” pregnancy. I hate that. All because she is 35.
Where the hell did the damn teacher go? I want this to start on time. I am usually in bed by the time this thing lets out (9pm).
The room is now completely full with couples. There are some women who look like they are at the start of their second trimester, while one woman in the back with a British accent looks like she is about to burst.
The class FINALLY starts. Within the first few lines of her opening statement, she has already made reference to the difficulties of dealing with a baby “once the father comes home from work and you need to prepare dinner.” So much for women’s lib, right?
Everybody is going around the room and introducing themselves. It was also a time for the women to open up about some of the main questions they had about giving birth. There was a constant theme of two words: pain and tearing. I think that could be a central theme of the evening. (Angela takes her pen and writes two words on the page: Natural Childbirth…oooOOOoooOOoo)
The RN just mentioned how your ribcage runs the risk of expanding and never completely going back into place. Damn. Being a woman is the worst! She keeps using words like “bend,” “stretch,” and “break.” Over and over again. What’s that? Oh, it will bend, stretch, and then fucking break. Let’s all laugh about busting your hymen because the kind of breaking that has the potential to happen will make that look like a picnic. I am pretty sure that my penis has retracted into my body. I am sorry for everything, ever. I might need to call my mom on my break to tell her I understand.
What the hell is a mucous plug?!
The teacher is mentioning Warning Signs for women during pregnancy. One of the bullet points is “vomiting or diarrheal lasting 24 hours or longer.” I’m sorry for everything, Angela. I feel like I should go put on a Smiths record and really think about the choices I have made in life.
We watch a short video about a woman in pre-term labor. She had her child at 32 weeks. Being that I was also a premature baby (3 lbs., 4.5 oz. at around the same time frame), this all scares the living shit out of me. It would be like Angela having the baby…tonight. No. No no no no no no.
Nesting: This totally explains why we had to spend the whole damn weekend arranging things and throwing stuff out. It was cathartic for Angela. It was necessary either way. We threw away at least 100 pounds. of Angela’s former possessions. That is putting it nicely. These items have been purged on two other occasions (her move from her parents’ house and her move from our last house). How a bag of used tissues made it up here, I will never know. BUT SHE BLEW HER NOSE WITH THESE TISSUES THE NIGHT OF THE KMFDM CONCERT!!!!
They finally graphically explain what the mucous plug is…
“Water may release in a trickle or gush [. . .] the liquid could be green, yellow or brown.” Hamburger churns in stomach.
“Have any of you seen your cervix?” (crickets)
Apparently, there will be a mirror in the labor and delivery room, just in case we want to get a peek. Score. She then proceeds to us powdered donuts to explain the 3cm dilation of a cervix. I used to really like powdered donuts.
She is now using a sock puppet to further explain effacement and dilation. This all looks so painful. I used to like puppets, too. It’s a long road to 10cm.
I think my penis is done. I am trading it in. One-way postage. It’s only been in hour and I can’t keep my toes from curling every five minutes. It must be my weak mind. Obi Wan would have a field day with me.
So, I am apparently supposed to cut the umbilical cord. She is now going over the need to “push out your placenta.” It looks like a giant bag of redness coming out of your body. It actually closely resembles a face hugger from Alien.
A woman in the room asks what contractions are like. Her response? “It’s like menstrual cramps….x100.” Ooof.
I have counting 17 times she has mentioned “vaginal bleeding” in the last ten minutes.
Apparently when you are 7cm dilated and need to go to the hospital, a woman is likely to feel “serious” or “focused.” I think that’s a really nice way of putting it. I don’t think those emotions are going to be going through her head at that point. I feel like it’s all going to be a bit like the labor scene from the first Look Who’s Talking.
Internal rotation is important. It’s like a good spiral on a football. Zelda, I am telling you right now: you better come out like a perfectly thrown Kirk Cousins TD pass come February. I like that.
The human body is so beautiful and terrible. We talk briefly about natural childbirth, and the questions are immediately thrown to the importance of an epidural. When I think of natural childbirth, I can’t help but run through the scene in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Unfortunately, I think Morgan Freeman will not be in the greater DC area to give birth to my child. It’s a shame. He truly is the great one.
Take note: your child will be “warm and sticky.” We watched our first of two childbirths. This particular woman did it standing up with a midwife. When the baby came out, so much came out with it. SO MUCH.
Ten-minute break for Chex Mix/Soda/Rethink my life.
We are about to watch a full childbirth, or the “greatest hits” at least. I feel like I am sweating, but not. Let’s call it ghost sweat. I am ghost sweating in anticipation.
We start to watch “Christina’s Birth.” This video reminds me of those poorly shot, grainy videos we watched in sex ed. Everything seems kind of scripted and a bit inauthentic. But oh shit, it was authentic. We watched that baby come out Christina, crowning and all.
The video is now over. I think I’ll be able to tough it out and keep my burger in me. We move to discuss what we should pack in “our bag” for the trip to the hospital. One of the suggestions is a “mix cd.” I don’t think Innova Alexandria is ready for “Birth Jamz 2016.” It’s going to be the hottest mix tape to drop this year.
We finished the evening by practicing some breathing and meditation exercises. The floor was very hard and cold, and I had to lean up against the bottom of a heater. Needless to say, I was uncomfortable, but I could not begin to think how uncomfortable Angela was (very, apparently). The meditation was kind of meh, so I won’t go over that.
The breathing exercises were interesting. We tried four or five different types of exercises. Everything from short breaths (Two in, two out) to the standard 4 and 5 (four in through the nostrils, five exhales). The one I found really interesting was the classic Lamaze breathing (hoo hoo hee). Everybody started to do it out loud. I swear, the first thing that came to mind was the opening to the Prodigy song “Breathe.” I leaned into Angela while we were doing it and whispered “Psycho-Somatic Addict-Insane.” She laughed. After sitting hard for nearly 45 minutes, I think she needed it. If you think about it, that entire song is about pregnancy breathing methods. I mean, the song is called “Breathe” after all.
Let’s hope less ass-sitting and more Prodigy lyrics. I wonder if we can fit “Firestarter” into our birthing plan.