Read Part I.
Today was a little different. The first class was a bit draining. We ended up getting home class to 10pm. Between getting up the next morning, driving Angela to work, and sitting in an hour of traffic on the SE Expressway, I felt like warm spit by the middle of the afternoon the following day.
Angela had a number of meetings and got on the metro a bit late. I picked her up from Huntington station and ate an extremely quick dinner before heading to Alexandria Innova.
We got here just in time. Only one other couple is here. I wonder if some of the couples dropped out after the first night. Is there an add/drop deadline for child birthing classes as well?
Other people start to show up. Doesn’t seem like anybody “dropped” the class. As the couples start walking in, I begin to notice things about our classmates. For one, most of the other people in the room smell great. I am pretty sure that we smell like the shit stench from the Anacostia or the eau de gorilla breath, courtesy of the Washington Metro Transit Authority. Everyone is also very well dressed. Although I contemplated wearing sweatpants to the class, I opted for my usual corduroy pant and sweater combo. Angela got me a new sweater for Christmas and it feels amazing. It was much appreciated on this day because it felt like Frosty’s testicles out there.
The instructor indicates that she wants to start class. As she stands up to open the class, she greets a couple walking in with a “hello.” Angela is the only person in the class to say “hello” back, thinking it was directed at those already seating. Classic.
Internal monitoring looks terrifying. The nurse/teacher is talking about algorithms and numbers to various powers and certain divisions. How the hell did childbirth happen one hundred years ago? A lot of the instruction that she has given so far has been repetitive, but I nonetheless respect what she does, both as a nurse and as an individual. Of course, I already did because my mother and mother-in-law were both nurses (both worked labor and delivery). I went my whole life knowing that my mother helped deliver babies. That was about it. Listening to this woman over the course of the birthing class, I am amazed to learn just how important nurses are in this process. Say what you want about doctors, but nurses are the damn salt of the earth.
We begin to learn about the “ripe cervix.” Forget what I said about the salt of the earth. She can’t stop saying “ripe cervix,” so I therefore take it all back. It’s like somebody saying “moist” over and over again, but…you know…ripe cervix. I have seen enough animations to know what it looks like. Ugh.
We begin to learn about episiotomies. I am not going to explain what an episiotomy is. If you don’t know, I leave you to your perverted curiosity and Google. According to the teacher, most hospitals are trying NOT to do the procedure anymore. That’s great. It means we have a fighting chance for Angela to be a “cut above the rest.” Get it? Either way, the whole thing looks like a horror movie.
The teaching is now explaining different massage methods for your pregnant wife (we get to try them later). She uses a metaphor for massaging your pregnant partner to a Paula Deen recipe. Gross. I really hope mayonnaise and butter are not involved in childbirth, although after seeing everything there is about episiotomies, I won’t put it past anyone.
Oh my god. OH MY GOD. Caesarian birth. Holy shit. I can’t believe I put my mother through that. She laughs about it now, but at the time I know I caused her a lot of misery. And I certainly don’t blame her. My sister in law went through it as well. Many women go through it. Hardcore, man. The mere though of having my guts on a side table makes me vurp a little in my mouth. We had to watch a video detailing how it was done, both in animated and real-life form.
This is truly my only true reaction to the videos:
Over and over and over and over and over. I deserve it.
There isn’t as much to write for this entry because much of the subject matter (such as severe fetal distress) is no laughing matter. I won’t make light of it in any sort of fashion. I wouldn’t wish losing any of it on my worst enemy. Frightening doesn’t begin to describe it.
I have to remind myself that this is all educational and not a three-hour blog of fear-mongering scare tactics. The only people reacting poorly to the information are the men. The pregnant women (Angela included) all seem to be handling this all with grace and civility. I would be scraping the wallpaper off the walls at this point. After every video I watch, I am beginning to realize just how complicated and dangerous it can be. On the flip side, there are a lot of insurances given to women today thanks to modern medicine. It’s not at all like you see on the movies.
She is now talking about nursing. Nobody bats an eye when she refers to the breasts as the “lunch table.” Babies are born and immediately placed on the body of the mother (what they call kangaroo mother care). After that, it’s only a matter of time before they go looking for lunch. Me too, Zelda. Me too.
It’s show and tell time! I was wondering when she was going to get through all the crap on the table in the front of the room.
The first thing she explains is a sitz bath. If you don’t know what it is, it’s kind of like a spa for your b-hole and/or genitals. It’s not quite a bidet and not exactly a hot water bowl for your toilet. Here is a quick illustration.
She keeps saying that we will want to buy one for use (one or two weeks after the birth). The more she explains it, the more I like it. Sauna for your butt? What more do you want in life?
Other things we will potentially need post birth:
- Thick pads (She showed us one and they are comically large
- Set of witch hazel pads (which I always call Sister Hazel, obviously)
- Lots and lots of patience
We delve deeper into what goes on after the baby is born. She makes a point to mention mom’s groups. They all sound great, but not realistic at the moment. This is a bit of a bummer, as there is only one mom’s group held once a month (on a Saturday). The other classes are held four times a week during the day. I guess they don’t cater to that, which is even more of a worry because a. we still do not know our daycare situation and b. don’t know how long it’s going to be before we find one without a War and Peace-sized waiting list attached to it.
8:15pm – 9:00pm
We close out the night with more breathing exercises and massage positions. We went over the same Prodigy breathing methods at first, and then moved on to different ways husbands and partners can massage out the pain of labor and delivery. The tennis ball/crew sock combo really seemed to work, although it looks kind of like a sex toy. We also got to try an exercise ball, which seemed very helpful and far less sexual.
The last half an hour was spent on the floor, which I found as an odd choice. It was cold and hard. The yoga mat, which was at thick as a maxi pad, offered little support for me or (especially) Angela. We proceeded to simulate pushing for contractions. It was thrilling being in that position. We are staring down the barrel of Zelda coming out, and it all made it seem so real, even if the floor felt like the slab they make ice cream on at Cold Stone. It was the perfect way to end the class – with a nod to the future.
All in all, I would say the class was beneficial. I don’t know how prepared it will make me for the birth, to be honest. I don’t think I’ll ever be prepared for it. No class is going to do that. But I have the tools and technical know-how to get through it. I also know that I am a bastard for doing this to my wife. Kicks to the crotch are warmly welcomed.
In the meantime: