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December 9, 2000
a year ago
two years ago
three years ago

First Baby Class

Up at 8, so I could shower and we could get out of the house before 9. Breakfast was going to be near Boulder Community Hospital, and we managed to find a nice little place next to the Breadworks called Marie's. It seems to be a Russian based kind of place with their own sweet rolls with fruit and cream cheese in a very yeasty roll. Yum. I had one of the rolls as I had a craving for coffee cake and it qualified, for me. I also had French Toast and bacon as I wanted some protein, and I managed to drink both an orange juice and a milk. The extra liquids are a very good thing.

We made it to the class just a few minutes late, second to last couple to make it. We also really liked our instructor, who turned out to not be Bill's instructor, at all. She'd been through two kids with lots and lots and lots of complications including a c-section and so knew a lot of things first-hand, which was really nice as a reference. I have to admit that I really, really admire experience far more than theoretical knowledge. Theoretical knowledge, too often, has a slant of 'right/wrong' with it and it's way too easy to start arguments over the value of it. Experience simply is and how it fits within the range of possibilities is a very interesting thing to discuss and think about. It leaves so much more room for ones own experiences to be different.

She started by asking everyone their fears and goals for the birth itself. I hadn't really thought of it and when I really thought about it I'm not really afraid of it all. Despite all the stories, despite all the possibilities, and despite how afraid some people seem to be of the pain, I don't think I am actually afraid of any of it, now. So I thought really hard and realized that if I were afraid of anything, it would be if the baby, somehow, got damaged in the activities and actions of the birth itself, since, from all indications, it's perfectly healthy where it is. I knew such extreme circumstances were really small, and that it wasn't really plausible, but it was possible. I think some of it is that I have faith in my own strength and I've taken so many cares through all this to be prepared that I don't even think that I'll have the possibility of dying or being injured in a way I'll be worried about in any of this that I'm only really afraid of the baby being hurt. The goal fell naturally from the last few years' worth of effort, come out of this with a healthy and happy baby.

She was cool and asked if it would help if she told us that the doctor's and nurses number one priority was to not harm the baby, and that if anything happened, the well-being of the child and the mother was first. Also 99.9% of all babies turned out just fine, even with complications that might happen during the birthing a C-Section could get the kid out of trouble within five minutes. That helped in a lot of ways. To know just what the odds were.

It was interesting listening to the other women's fears. A big one seemed to be that they felt that if they didn't have a 'natural childbirth' that they would have failed, somehow. I can, sometimes, see the social pressure that would form such a fear; but I don't find myself under that particular pressure. For some reason a lot of women have the odd feeling that if they don't do it all they've failed, rather than it just being a side-effect of the reality of the situation and I just can't see myself depressed about not doing a vaginal birth. I might be depressed about having to heal from a monster cut and stitching, as long-term pain does do that to me, but not for 'having failed'. If we're both alive and healthy after, I'm going to be content.

Another thing was that most of them were afraid of the pain. I know I'm weird in this case. For me this is consensual pain. I asked for it, knowing what could be involved. It's also pain that I've researched up the wazoo and know that there is, on the most part, no permanent damage involved. It's just muscles doing what they're not used to doing so they hurt from that, and muscles stretching the way they're not used to but from which they can pretty much recover full functionality if one is vigilant afterwards. Finally, I guess I've simply been through and/or put myself through more pain than most civilized women put themselves through so I know more about my thresholds and more about what it is that I can handle, especially with endorphins. But it was very interesting to hear these women work themselves up into a bit of a frenzy over the possibility of pain. It's just a sensation, but they seem so determined to find it awful and terrible and horrible. One coach even said that in one survey he'd heard that child birth was the most painful thing that the surveyed women had ever experienced.

It was pretty funny to realize just how orthogonal my thinking was and knowing that if I even opened my mouth, they wouldn't have the context or the terms with which to even comprehend my take on it. So I said nothing.

As an attendant part of that the instructor was very clear to note that, from what she'd seen, the hardest thing on the coaches was the fact that they often couldn't do anything about the pain of certain stages of the delivery. That the helplessness was really frustrating and really hard on coaches. I turned to John and whispered, "This isn't going to be as hard as our helplessness with Fezzik, yeah?" He laughed and agreed thoroughly with that. So the old dog's done us a different kind of favor, again.

Goals were interesting to see, too. Healthy mom and baby were pretty evident. Some ladies wanted it to be short and painless, which the instructor pretty firmly squashed. One coach wanted the labor to be half an hour in length, which the instructor blinked at a lot and squashed with the experiences of a coach who had had three kids and one of them had been delivered in twenty minutes. A labor that short is frightening. It's supposed to be a gradual thing, the time is to give the body and mind involved some time to adjust to the huge changes being asked of it, and when it's that fast, there is no time given. The changes are so hard and fast, and complete it's hard to comprehend at the emotional levels. The coach admitted that it was harder to bond to the quick and mostly painless baby than it had been to bond to the other kids that had come with more time in the transition. The instructor and I loved John's goal, to figure out a way to have fun through this whole process.

I loved the material, on the most part. She went through the fact that while there was going to be pain, they were going to do their best to help deal with it. That there were at least a dozen ways to help lessen it, but it wouldn't make it all go away. It could, however, make it manageable. Relaxation, visualization, knowing what was going on, breathing, support from our coaches and loved ones and caregivers, physical aids to relaxation (like massage and jacuzzi) and anything to lessen the fear and anxiety would all help. All lessons I'd learned without the words, and it was really neat to be given concise, clear words. John laughed and whispered, "I know where *you* are going to be the moment you can be" when the jacuzzi tub was mentioned. He's right, too. I love my baths.

I think it's really cool that in the U.K. it's written into their constitution that all women will have access to a birthing pool. The instructor found that to be really, really cool, too. We were pretty lucky in that the Boulder Community Hospital has a jacuzzi in every birthing room. It's a really progressive hospital that allows the mothers to do what it is that they need to do or want to do through the deliver, so long as there's no endangerment to the kid or mom. So there should be no fights when I want to do what I want to do. That will be good. John won't have to pacify people so much.

We had one movie right before lunch that showed the entire process of labor from early to active to transition to delivery of both the baby and the placenta. It was very detailed, very much the 'real thing' versus any Hollywood deliveries, and it was very cool and educational to actually see it all unroll in front of us for other people and how they dealt with it all. Especially nice to see the full range of possibilities and variety in what was happening for each couple and baby.

Absorbing information is always keen.

John and I walked across the street and went to a Noodles and Company for lunch and the Thai noodles with chicken was so salty I couldn't eat more than a third of my meal. John had the Thai soup, which really helped his nose and sinuses. He is still pretty sick today, all stuffed up and it's hard for him to talk, but he's doing better than yesterday. It was fun to talk things through with him while we ate. Afterwards, one of our classmates said, "Wow, that was a salty lunch, my hands are swelling..." Made me mildly glad that I could tell that kind of thing while I was eating rather than only suffering the aftereffects. They did, however, have a really nice fruit drink that I happily drank a lot of and the classroom had fruit, so I ate an apple to add to the nutritional value of what I had downed.

The afternoon was more about all the phases, what to expect, and what would be expected of us. There were two movies, one with all kinds of massage and relaxation tips, another following a pretty funny couple through the whole thing from beginning to end. Several points of the latter made me cry a little, the first when they'd brought a picture of their cat as a focal point for the mother and the father saying, "Look at the pretty kitty." as she's going into a contraction. I think I'd cry too much if we used a Fezzik picture as a focal point. The other was them just crying at the end, with the baby crying on her chest, and the relief of it all being just a touch too close to our other relief.

This is going to be quite an adventure. I can tell that now.

Then we got to do breathing exercises! It's nothing like in the movies, thank God and my tai chi training. Yeesh. I'd always wondered how such forceful, deep breathing could relax anyone, and after instruction, obviously it can't. The main reasons for the breathing at all are 1) to stop hyperventilation (while the Hollywood style breathing would make a grown man keel over quickly) 2) to provide a technique to concentrate on to simply not think about the pain and 3) to help the mother relax into the contractions and let them happen. Not to fight them. It was just very keen to find out that the first one they recommend is pretty much tai chi breathing, other than they say to breath out through ones nose as well as breathing in that way. Long, slow, breaths balanced between in and out. The two fast techniques emphasis that one shouldn't breath deeply, should breath evenly and are only differentiated by patterning to make the mother concentrate on them more. They are through the mouth, though, which is why the emphasis on making them shallow. It's also much slower than the panting they do in a move, though they can be speeded up, it's important to keep them balanced.

All of them should work just fine against regular pain as well. I've been using the slow, deep even breaths against pain since I learned tai chi in my early 20's and it's always worked. I have a feeling I'll be biased towards using what I know.

There is one preventative breathing exercise. One of the shallow, blowing out breathings is to make sure that the mom doesn't take a deep breath and push. There are two points where it has to be used. One when one is dilated but not quite enough, it prevents the mom from pushing and making everything hurt a lot more for a long longer when she physically really shouldn't be pushing even if part of her body is signaling to do so. The other is when the baby's head is out and they have to suction and do a few things before they can go on to getting the shoulders out.

Amazing the difference it makes to know when and what it's all about. It was giggly fun to practice with everyone on the floor, too. One of the ladies is fighting a chronic disease and she noted the breathing out through ones mouth in the slow, deep breath helped her a lot with the pain of her disease. So I chimed in that it was a tai chi technique as well. The instructor was really keen and said to simply use what works, and she had nothing invested in any particular technique to say to use one or the other as we'd have a far better feeling for what worked for us. Have I said I really liked our instructor? I really liked our instructor.

We got out a bit after 5. It kind of felt like we'd been working hard all day, and I guess we were. Tired of salty restaurant food, we went home and John reheated pork roast and side dishes while I rode the exercise bike for 20 minutes. I needed the exercise as we'd been sitting all day and I was sore all over. Amusingly enough, after just moving things moderately for 20 minutes, all my soreness was gone. When people don't exercise just 'cause they sore or tired or hurting they're missing out on something important. I think I get more sore from just sitting at my desk all day than I do from exercise.

Dinner was yummy. I watched Good Eats upstairs and John reminded me that Junior was playing tonight. Arnie gets to be pregnant! Yay! I really wanted to see that. So we popped some popcorn, brought it down with us and cuddled up in a blanket in the cool basement and happily watched Arnie take girly-hormones and get more emotional and primpy than I ever was or ever will be. It made me giggle so much. The one really startling scene was when he was in the Big and Tall men's shop and he comes out and looks at himself in his clothes in the mirror and it's just startling. I have this tall, sturdy build that isn't that wide and it was startling how much like him I look now. My belly is extending out in front of me, I haven't really gained much to the sides and my legs and thighs and upper body are pretty much as they've always been, so it really looks mostly like a front extension. On him, it looked exactly the way it does on me! That was very startling.

The rubber belly scenes nearly had me on the floor. He also had a far, far more extensive wardrobe at the pregnancy health spa than I'll ever have in my entire life. That was pretty funny to realize. I still can't get over the thought that there are actual businesses that are built on the possibility of me going out and buying clothes that I can wear for only a couple months. I'm doing just fine with my leggings, large Champion sweat pants, and my everyday t-shirts. The sweat pants make John giggle, though, as I can still pull them out eight inches! Plenty of room to grow! It makes me giggle a lot when I see myself, which is like utterly the opposite of these women that get all depressed and self-hating of their looks. I think I look pretty cool, engineering-wise it's all really fascinating and obviously for a good reason and it's really cool to know why I look exactly why I do. It does help, though, to be able to see my old self in my silhouette with my legs even stronger now from carrying the extra weight.

It also helps that my main attitude about the weight gain is that, for once, I'm going to be able to eat happily during the holidays and have not even a shred of guilt. Not one. It helps that my stomach is so small that I'm taking only a little of everything that I do eat, so it seems like less for any one sitting, eventhough I am probably eating more over all, it's not a whole lot and it's pretty carefully chosen. Yay! No guilt!

Mom and Dad sent us a card of condolence over Fezzik that was utterly perfect. It had me crying and feeling that they actually understood what it was that we'd been through. Given the rough time they'd had when Andy, the family cocker spaniel, had died, I think they really did know. They'd read my journal entries of the end and the feedback of the card and what they'd written was something that healed some fear in my heart in a very unexpected way. I'm very glad they wrote.

We went to sleep not too late. While I was brushing my teeth I could hear the wind howling outside and the image that came into my head was Fezzik lying by the front door, the wind whipping his black fur, but him looking comfortable and relaxed. He was out where he wanted to be, watching the neighborhood, watching over his house and place and very much a part of the winter elements, the way he'd been bred to be. I still have some of his puppy shedding, the same fur that I'd used to make John's sweater. I should, probably, make something for myself out of that fur to help protect myself against the winter. It would definitely be something to remember Fezzik by and I think he'd have liked knowing he was still protecting us.

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