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tales of something simple - the birthing class flunkie

i believe

Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.

all types of chaos

the birthing class flunkie

Let’s just start this off by saying I was not interested in taking any birthing classes.

…Take a moment and absorb that…

Now close your jaw, you’ll catch flies.

I just didn’t care for the idea.  A class on childbirth?  A class on laboring, delivering and caring for myself post-pregnancy?  To tell me what exactly, that it’s going to be the worst pain I have ever felt in my entire life, my vagina will be stretched to its physical limits and then some and then, best yet, it will stay this way for weeks on end coupled with bleeding and dropping clots the size of golf balls?  No, no I did not think this was necessary.  However, I signed up because it’s the thing I was supposed to do.  Everyone says “did you take your classes yet?” so what would I have said if I told them I never even enrolled and didn’t plan to?  I so did not want the “Scarlett MF”…for mother fuck-up.

So we go for four weeks, 2 hours each night.  I think I was the least enthusiastic woman there.  Mostly because I walk in, rushing from my car which I just spent an hour and twenty minutes in, to see happy cute little glowing Mommy’s with their sweatpant capri’s and shiny pony tails, their feet slid into there flippy-floppy’s (the same size they wore pre-pregnancy) all smiling and full from their home-cooked meal.

I walk in and I’m asked to make a name tag.  I’m immediately transported back to the first day of school where we are mandated to introduce ourselevs and tell all our newbie friends about the most exciting thing we did that summer.  Except I don’t want to talk to my newbie Mommy to-be friends.  They all look way too fucking happy and relaxed like they didn’t work all day and I immediately picture them happily folding baby clothes and sipping cold ice water with lemon while they gaze at the children across the street skipping and playing jump rope.  I sat at a desk for the past 9 1/2 hours, I ate 2 stale peanut butter crackers and a Zantac in the car.

Brian makes the name tags instead.

She begins the class by asking each of us to go around introducing ourselves and then we are supposed to share what we do for a living, what our due date is, if the baby is a boy, girl or a “surprise” (I am not having a surprise.  I am having a boy or a girl, but I won’t be surprised by any of it, ok?), who our doctor is, what hospital they are delivering at, what we like to do in our free time and what our coping mechanism for labor will be.

I was still trying to remember the first two questions when she got to the last.  Shit.

I decide to get all feminist.  Every woman introduces herself and speaks for her husband–his name, job and what he likes to do in his free time.  I refuse to participate in this, I immediately think.  And lucky for me, Brian is silently aware.

I let him take the ball and run with it.  I hold back laughter when he says we are having a “surprise.”  When he gets to the part about what I do, he goes “wait what do you do again?” and no one gets the joke.  To which I chime in and make all the Grandview Hospital Mommy and Daddy’s aware we are not delivering here.  “We are Mainline patients” I say, “which means we might as well drive to New York to have the baby according to my husband.”

The stepford nurse lady stares.

“And what’s going to be your coping mechanism for labor?”

I don’t skip a beat.  I know exactly what my answer is.  I had just listened to the other Mommy’s with their sing-song excitment give answers like “I am going to have a natural childbirth experience without any medication,” “I am going to use a birthing ball and meditate,” “I am going to use a picture of my kitten as a focal point,” “I am going to imagine holding my baby and smelling it’s new baby smell” and well I…I think I had the most realistic answer.

“I’m gonna wing it.”

Cue crickets.

“Well that’s not really a coping mechanism.”

Clearly this lady and I haven’t met before.  This Mary Poppins Nazi Planner (me) who is incapable of giving up any sort of control and constantly needs to be “in the know” was actually giving anyone who knows her or who will be around her WHILE in labor…a huge fucking gift.  The gift of giving it up man…the craft of jumping in feet first and saying “alright…bring it on!”

On a serious note, I really am winging it.  It’s an informed wing mind you, I’ve got all the knowledge and practice from class on all my options of what to do when in pain…like visualization, different kinds of breathing, walking/movement or telling my husband if he ever brings out his penis again I will personally hack it off.  I get it, you have to try many things to find one that works.

Over the next few weeks we do a variety of activities to help simulate contractions and the laboring experience.  I fail at all of them.

They give us this tiny rubber band to put around the tops of our fingers and are told to stretch it over and over again for 30 seconds.  Every time I tried to expand it Brian would make jokes about how it was going to snap off and hit him in the eye and how he could do it so much better.

They tell us to get into a position we’ve been taught that is most comfortable while simulating a contraction for a full minute.  I see people squatting, sitting cross legged on the floor, bearing weight on one leg up on a chair.  I sit backwards on a chair and tell Brian to rub my back.  You see my motive here.

Then, we get an ice cube.  We are given instructions on what to do with it, to which I heard, hold it in your hand for a minute (I heard nothing else).  At the end of the minute we were supposed to tell our partner on a scale of 1-10, 1 I could hold it all day and 10 I would have dropped it as soon as I got it if I could, where we were at.

Brian says “so where were you between 1 and…”

“Oh totally 1.  Did you know there is pear juice in this juice box?”

“Umm, so it was a 1?”

“Yeah, it was fine, no seriously did you read these ingredients it’s like 100% fruit juice.”

“Jessica…did you read the juice box while you were holding the ice cube instead of focus on the ice cube?”

“Well yeah.”

“Do you know the point of the exercise is for you to entirely focus on the ice cube so you can see that when you are thinking only of the ice cube it will be more painful than if you had a distraction?”

Oops.  I had to switch tactics for the next round, when we were supposed to be focusing on shit like juice box ingredients and not on the ice cube.  I was ten sorts of confused.

And so we get to our last class.  This is where they show you all kinds of “intervention” type devices that may be used while you are in labor.  They also review certain procedures to aid in delivery that may expedite the pushing process.

I learned that an episiotomy is not when you tear and they fix it.  No, no sister it is so not that.  I turn to Brian, “yeah I’m not doing that, FYI.”

I hold foceps (cough, salad spoons) in my hand that weigh more than my newborn baby and hear all about skull bruising and cuts on the face.  I toss those too.

And then, my favorite.  A fetal head monitor with a corkscrew on the end.  The stepford nurse lady is talking a mile a minute, like I’m going to graze right over this device and what it does.

“Wait so the end of that (I point) screws into the baby’s head?”

She looks perplexed like, “duh Mommy that’s what  I said.”  Instead she goes “yes it gets screwed just under a small layer of scalp and stays there to monitor the baby if they can’t get a good read on the heart rate and…”

I laugh under my breath, “Oh so it’s like the reverse of opening a bottle of wine then?”

She ignores me.  “And we only remove it if you need to get up and go to the bathroom or something and then we unscrew it and then screw it back in…”

“So baby gets screwed twice?”

She loved me.  I spend the rest of this period ignoring everything she says about all other devices aggressively, quietly whispering back and forth with Brian about how crazy it seems that they would screw something into our unborn child’s head and are devising a plan to ensure this doesn’t happen under any circumstance.

We left our fourth class, our last class, that night, just as laid back as when we first arrived.  We agreed on a plan–no plan.  We got our info, we listened, we learned, we decided what we would object to as long as it was possible to do so, ever more convinced that nomatter what we plan on: expect the unexpected and just roll with it.

Sounds like more of a parenting plan than a birthing road map, but I’ll take it.


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