Thursday, September 18, 2008

On becoming educated

Last week Jon and I had our Prepared Childbirth Class at the hospital, and finished up our 6 week Natural Childbirth class with a local midwife. I had not considered the irony of this until watching this clip from Bill Cosby … yes, we took a class on how to do something naturally. And not only did we take a class, but I’ve been spending the past 8 months or so reading and studying this subject. Apparently childbirth does not come as naturally to some of us as it does to others. From what I’ve heard/read, the key to a positive natural childbirth experience is relaxation. Unfortunately, despite weeks of practicing, this is the area that Jon and I definitely fail in. We can describe the various stages of labor. I can tell you what I’ll be feeling, and he can tell you what he should be doing. We know what each letter of the T-R-A-N-S-I-T-I-O- N acronym stands for. We know exactly when to breathe, when to push, and when to inhale-exhale without pushing. We know how to labor if the baby is posterior, we know how to labor if the baby is anterior. I know all about papaya enzymes, lasinoh, blue cohosh, black cohosh, red raspberry leaf tea and evening primrose oil. And I can take a cleansing breath, take two more, squat, and stay there like nobody’s business. But so far, neither of us has aced the relaxation bit.

Our midwife was offering a prize – a homemade Moby wrap – to the couple who practiced relaxation the most throughout the week. It wasn’t exactly a fair assessment, since she could only go on our word. But since we forgot that we were even supposed to be practicing the first week, I wasn’t too competitive with this one. Another part of our homework was to find some relaxing music to take with us to the hospital. Of course, it shouldn’t have words or singing, and it shouldn’t be a music-only version of a song that really does have words because you might find yourself singing along in your head and thus not relaxing, and she doesn’t recommend anything with crashing waves or crescendos, etc., etc. I soon realized how very little of my musical collection would be deemed “relaxing.” So on one of those rare occasions when Jon and I found time to get serious about this task, he pulled a self-created CD out of his binder entitled “Quiet Sounds.” Sounded promising. And at first I thought the violin solo piece was the answer to our problem. But then things started picking up and it wasn’t until the loud drumming, stomping, crazy violin segment that I realized I had heard this song before – in the movie “Gladiator.” Turned out the CD was a collection of tunes from all of Jon’s favorite movies. Sorry honey, but songs from movies about combat and death do not qualifying as relaxing. The last thing I want to picture in the middle of a contraction is a blue-faced William Wallace, sitting atop his horse, blonde mane blowing in the breeze, screaming “freedom” as he gallops down the hillside with spear in hand.

We took this class with about ten other couples, all of which will be delivering at the local midwifery center. Our midwife doesn’t have a very good memory, she was still getting names mixed up at the last class, so just about every week she asks us where we’re delivering. You can just see the sympathy in everyone’s eyes when we tell them the Navy hospital. A few people mentioned that they had delivered there once before … and then the unanswered question hangs in the air, “So why aren’t you delivering there again?” But lately we’ve heard about some really positive experiences that others have had there. Last weekend we went to check things out ourselves in the one-day “Prepared Childbirth Class.” The first thing I noticed when walking into this class was how big it was. Apparently it’s one of the biggest they’ve had. And considering the common joke that women’s water all seem to break at the same time, I’m hoping that I’ll at least get a bed for Jack’s arrival. I’ve also heard that many women go onto labor during a full-moon. I’ve already checked out October’s calendar, and it appears that we can expect a full moon on the 14th, 3 days before the due date. Although that would be nice, I’m anticipating going a little late. I was a very late baby, as in 3 weeks late, so I figure I’ll plan to be late with this one, and then end up pleasantly surprised if he arrives early or on time. (On a side note, I’m pretty sure the doctor had my mom’s due date wrong, because I am definitely not a late person, and I’m sure that even prior to being born I was sensitive to others needs and the importance of being on time). Anyway, back to our class. It was interesting to hear that of the on-average 350 babies that are born at this hospital each month, 90% of deliveries are with an epidural. Since, ideally, this is something I’d like to avoid, at least I now know that there are about another 30-35 women a month who are doing the same, even if they are the significant minority. I was tempted to ask the nurse what the hospital’s c-section rate was, but after sensing her annoyance to my other questions about the routine administration of pitocin after birth and their IV requirement once you are admitted, I thought it best to let that one go.
All in all, we’re pretty impressed with the facilities, especially since it's all free for us! (thank you fellow-taxpayers). Everything looked clean and organized. And personally, I’m pretty excited about the extra large showers! I’ve never stayed in a hospital before, but it doesn’t seem like it would be too bad. And Jon seems to have forgotten his original plan of returning home to sleep because he’s definitely not leaving me and Jack that first night! We also now have our hospital route picked out, as well as a back-up plan if traffic on the bridge-tunnel is bad. We know right where to park and where to check in, and where Jon can get coffee, snacks and goodies and I can get … ice chips. My mom asked if I was going to take pictures on the tour. Since it wasn’t really a tourist event, I’ll save pictures for the day Jack’s born. But if you are interested, here are some snapshots from the hospital’s website. Also, after all these pictures of my expanding belly, I thought I’d throw one in there that includes my expanding ankles as well.

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