Baby Romenesko Post 15: Labor, Birth, and Beyond

34.5 weeks. 

Before I tell you all about how we are ready to be parents because we took baby class, I need to say thank you.  THANK YOU.  I was really nervous about publishing my last blog post about my panic attack because I was feeling very vulnerable and like we just are not ready to be parents, etc. etc. The positive and supportive responses I got from everyone were overwhelming and so wonderful and made me feel so much better.  You’re all awesome.

On Saturday, Pete and I attended our “Labor, Birth, and Beyond” class, and now we’re ready to be parents.

Just kidding, it was pretty terrifying all around.

Growing up on a farm, I learned at a really early age about life (and death, but let’s stick to life here).  On a farm, life starts when a calf pushes a cow out of her butt.  We then had to learn the difference between the place where poop comes out and the place where a calf comes out.  Anyway, sometimes the calf needed help coming out, so Dad would have to pull the calf by the legs and help the cow.  Now, we were told growing up that this was the miracle of life and yes, it was bloody and goopy, but it didn’t hurt the cow.  Sometimes a dad needs to tell that to his kids when they are seeing a live birth and wondering why the cow is making noises that sound like “JESUS GET THIS THING OUT OF ME BEFORE I KEEL OVER DEAD”.

After the calf was born, there was something else that had to come out of the cow that was this really gross looking blood and guts and slimy and nasty thing.  This was called “the cleanings”, and even though I had no idea what the purpose of this grotesque thing was, I knew that if it didn’t come out it was an even bigger mess and caused some big problems.  I also knew that the cleanings had to be put in the manure spreader because if they weren’t, the dog would get them and eat them.

Aren’t you jealous that you didn’t grow up on a farm?

Now, I’m not telling you all of this fascinating information that I learned at the ripe old age of 6 to show you how cultured I am.  I’m sharing it with you so that you know that I have seen live births before.  I know the science of it.  Keyword: science.

Watching three ten-minute videos of women pushing babies out of their vaginas was a completely different experience.  I mean, at one point I was thinking “Would I rather be WATCHING this happening, or FEELING this happening?” and definitely thinking that I was glad I didn’t have to watch it happen.  Because.  It was traumatizing.  And no one was saying “Oh, it’s the miracle of life and even though it looks God-awful painful and gross, it doesn’t even hurt!”  Uh-uh.  None of that.  No more farm lies to protect the women who were around 6 weeks away from pushing a baby out of their loins.

In the first video that we watched, the dad CAUGHT THE BABY immediately after it was birthed.  I looked over at Pete with big eyes to be met with even bigger eyes and a whiter face.  He shook his head and said with conviction, “Nope.  No way.”  I mean, WHY WOULD THEY EVEN SHOW THAT TO US.  Poor dads.

The third video we watched was a woman who didn’t have any medication during her labor at all.  Au natural.  This time, I was the one with bigger eyes and a whiter face and said, “There is no way in hell.”  GIVE ME THOSE MEDS.

It was really interesting because at one point the RN teaching the class asked if any of us had birth plans aka who in the class wanted the magic juice to ease some of the pain.  My hand went up right away because I have zero shame in admitting that I will need drugs because I am a real wimp.  As I was looking around the room, I noticed that the other women were looking around the room first, THEN raising their hands.

I don’t know at what point women in our society began “shaming” other women who decided they wanted an epidural, but let me tell you what.  There is no shame in needing a little somethin’-somethin’.  The majority of women who speak openly about their labor and delivery experience are the ones who didn’t have any medication, or did a water birth or something like that.  DO NOT get me wrong – more power to you if you can handle a human making its way out of your body with no medication.  I’m serious here – that is awesome.

However, I firmly believe that it is equally awesome if you have some sort of relief from the pain because let’s face it – every woman who gives birth to another human being is SO FABULOUS because look at what your body just did!  Your body incubated a PERSON for (around) FORTY WEEKS!  Your body literally created another life, nurtured it, and then birthed it out of a 10 centimeter hole.  10 centimeters is NOT THAT BIG.

And that’s not the end of it!  Your body then knows exactly when to release the right hormones so that you can produce the nourishment for you baby, shrink your uterus back to normal size and ALLOW YOU TO FUNCTION NORMALLY IN SOCIETY.  Take a second and think about this, you guys.  It really is fascinating.

SO ANYWAYS.  Women!  No shame in needing a little magic to ease the delivery!  And don’t let anyone else let you think otherwise!  I also learned in baby class that over 50% of women have some sort of medication during their labor and delivery, but the statistics are kind of complicated because age, race, and education level all play a part in that (isn’t that so interesting??).

BUT, I digress.

The first couple hours of the class went through the different stages of labor.  I really, really appreciated the RN who taught the class because she was just so honest, saying things like “Oh, at this part, it’s REALLY going to hurt” and “Nurses call this stage ‘the f-bomb hour'”.  Just FYI “f-bomb hour” is where you are dilating from 7 to 10 centimeters right before you start pushing.  According to the RN, if you make it past this point without going completely insane from the pain, you are pretty well set to deliver the child, even though things will stretch and tear and be all around terrifying.

You’re welcome.

Peter was pretty stoic during the whole class.  He is a really good learner, and I have no doubt that he will be just fine helping me through the agonizingly painful hell journey to welcome our child into the world.  He didn’t have a hard time breathing or anything, but his eyes got pretty big when he saw how little 10 cm dilated is and realized that I had to push a baby through that.

One of the parts that I was kind of “yeesh” about was when I learned that immediately after delivering the baby, the baby would be placed on a warm blanket on my chest.  You guys.  Babies are kind of scary when they’re born (even the nurse said this, so I am not feeling as bad saying it after seeing the live birth video).  They are like, bluish purple and covered in gook and look like something from another planet.  The thought of having that up in my face before it is pink and snuggly made me a little queasy, but my friend told me that it would be different when it’s my own child.

Let’s hope she’s right.

I also learned that when I pushed out the cleanings, or more scientifically known as the placenta, it would feel like nothing compared to pushing out the baby, and I would be in such La La Baby Land that I wouldn’t even care what was happening down there.  I would start to care, however, when the nurse had to “massage” my stomach to be like “Hey, uterus!  Nothing’s left in there!  Start cramping up, expelling the leftovers, and shrinking back to normal size!”  The nurse was very honest and said, “You really won’t like me when I do that, but I honestly don’t care.”  My kind of woman.

After the class, Pete and I got to tour the maternity floor of the hospital and were really happy with the “delivery suites”.  All the action takes place in one room, and then you stay in that room with the baby for the rest of your hospital stay, which I think is really nice.  All of the rooms have a window, which I also really appreciate.   Although, maybe it’s not the best idea to have a window in there if at any point I want to either jump out of it, or push Peter out of it.  We’ll see.

When we left, Pete and I were in the car chatting, and I told him that during the labor and delivery, I might say some really mean things to him.  I told him that as I was saying those mean things, I wanted him to remember that I truly did love him because if I didn’t love him I wouldn’t have wanted his child.

He said, “Oh yeah, I’m expecting you to be like, really mean in there.”

Well what the hell is that supposed to mean??  No backpedaling from that one, sir.  He tried and failed, so I made him buy me an ice cream.

SO!  Here’s to thinking about the video of a woman whom I’ve never met, but know more intimately than I know any other woman, birthing a child for the next 5.5 weeks.  I mean, maybe I’ll feel differently after I’ve given birth to the most perfect human being on earth (Let’s get serious, how can it NOT be with the genetics that Peter and I are giving it!?) but right now… That is some scary shit.

(Aren’t you so excited to read about MY OWN child birth experience after reading about what I took away from baby class??)

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