yowling won't help
Dave and Morgan and I saw Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story yesterday. It’s...go. Go. Go see it. There’s a part – no. No, I’m not going to say. I’ll just say that there are a couple of parts where Dave and I were laughing so hard and so long, long after everyone else in the audience had stopped laughing, so hard it seemed like we both might give birth on the spot. Weeping, hitting each other. I want to tell you so badly what the funny part was but I don’t want to ruin it for you. And really, the funny part...the whole damn movie is the funny part.
I’ll just tell you that this guy
was responsible for the part where Dave and I were hitting each other.
He played Doctor Slop.
In other fabulous news, I LIKE COFFEE AGAIN!! For seven fucked-up, perplexing months, pregnancy has rendered coffee foul in my nose and mouth. But today I brought Dave a cup of coffee in the bathtub, and I had a sip of it since it smelled good, and it was yummy! So we were at Larry's Market today and went to the Peet's coffee stand and I got a cup of delicious decaf coffee and my favorite coffee girl was there whom I adore and haven't seen since this post. So not only did I get a cup of sweet and creamy coffee, the sweetie-pie girl was there for the big moment and celebrated with me in that charming, groovy way she has. I for sure have a crush on her and I have a crush on goddamned coffee, too.
See you in the morning, my prodigal beverage.
So we have our…which one?…our fourth childbirth class tonight.
In our second class, everyone who sucked in the first class stopped sucking and became pleasant. Also, we supplied the snacks and won everyone over with German chocolate cake and potato salad. Also in the second class, we did this exercise where we pick a number between 0 and 100, representing a pain scale where 0 is none and 100 is the amount of pain you feel right before you pass out. The women were supposed to guess for ourselves what the number would be at the most difficult part of our labor, and the men were guessing for their partners. I guessed 75, Dave guessed 80 for me. Then the teacher led us through this thing where we would imagine that we were in labor, and 50% of the way to that number we’d chosen, and we were supposed to imagine what we’d be doing for ourselves to cope at that point. Then the number went up to 75% of the number we’d picked, same question, and then 96%, and then 110%. At 50% I ventured that I’d be trying to go limp and relax every part of my body. At 75% I thought that I’d be doing the same thing as at 50%, but also seriously praying. At 96% I thought I’d be looking to the midwives for ideas. At 110% I drew a blank, and the idea started getting funny to me. Like, stop it! 100% was all I was considering! Anyway, the point of all this was for us to know that even though none of us had done this before, we have ideas and resources available to us. It was good.
And then she was talking about how during transition (which - if you haven’t given birth or aren’t a crazy pregnant person who’s boning up on the info like her life depended on it - is the point where the cervix is finishing dilating all the way, and the contractions are super strong and right on top of each other) a lot of women think they’re dying.
Yeah, the word “dying” came into it. And I was like SHUTUPDON’TSAYIT. Because that’s been the fear that I haven’t wanted to look at – the fear that I’d die, or be in such a horrible place that I’d think that was what was happening. But then once she hung it out there and we got to sit with it a minute, I was glad it came up. That’s a good fear to look in the face. That’s not something I would want to be surprised with while in the big moment. But it really called that fear right out into the open, and for the next few days I was really sitting in it, and I started losing confidence in my ability to do this.
Which was good! Because then I could deal with that. I got a copy of the book Birthing from Within, which is what her class is based on, and devoured it quickly. Great book! Among other things, it has these art exercises you can do to find out what sort of ideas you’re harboring around pregnancy and birth and parenthood. Art exercises and I are friends. We get along well. I find them fruity-fruity-fruitful*, always. So I drew some pictures about pregnancy, and then drew a picture of my biggest fear for childbirth.
*Oh, no, I'm Ned Flanders.
I’d put it out here for you, but it’s huge and I don’t have a scanner, and if I did, I wouldn’t have that big a scanner. So, I’ll just describe it to you. In the drawing, I’m kneeling on the floor with blood gushing out everywhere, and my sides are jaggedy instead of round, with big scary bands of red circling them. I have a red sort of seeing-stars-Saturn-orbit-I’ve-gone-mad-pain-crown around my head. My body’s surrounded by this black membrane that prevents me from being able to see or hear what anyone in the room is saying to me, and my little pale green soul is leaving my body through my head. I’m dying. The people in the room are drawn vaguely, but they’re crying and calling 911 and rummaging through emergency equipment.
Oof. It was sad, scary and a big release to draw this. Then the next task was to draw this fear being transformed in some way – either how I’d cope if it came to pass, or what could happen to prevent it. I drew myself with the red pain bands, but with no big black membrane. I drew my eyes and ears enormously large, so I’d still be in contact with all the reassuring people in the room, and I drew my hands very large and emphasized, with Dave holding them.
Felt better. And then we had a good visit with one of our midwives, and I talked about my fears with her, and she was fabulous. She said we should bring the drawings in and we can talk about them. (I can’t help but imagine what our old suckball OB/GYN* would have done if I’d brought these fears in or, heavens forfend, mentioned a large crayon drawing I’d done to cope. She would have laughed us out of the room.) She talked about what’s happening for her when the ladies are in transition, and how she could help, and what emergencies could be and how we’d deal with them. She was a fairy fucking princess!
Then last Tuesday we had our third birth class, where we learned that the uterus is a blue striped knit bag with an end like a turtleneck. There was a rag doll baby and a skeleton pelvis, and the rag doll baby came right out of the turtleneck and worked himself through the skeleton pelvis with no problem, just like Finn will do. The whole thing will take like ten minutes. I’m totally not scared anymore. No, though, we learned a lot about what exactly is going down during birth, and what the chemical processes are in the body, and the whole thing was pretty reassuring, actually.
And then at the end of class, the teacher said she’d been thinking about something I’d asked during the first couple of classes. I’d asked how athletic a person needs to be to have a natural childbirth, and I’d alluded to some worry about having enough physical strength for this. So she said that the body is built for this, and you don’t have to be good enough, or an athlete, that women through the ages have given birth naturally and they didn’t eat tofu and do yoga. Even a couch potato can do this. (And lords and ladies, I am all kinds of potato.) I was really touched that she said this, and that she’d been thinking about it, and it made me cry. Something inside really let go and understood that I have it in me to do this. I have a lot going for me to make me a good candidate for natural childbirth. I was very grateful to her.
*If you do see Tristram Shandy, imagine that Dr. Slop is the young, white, 18th century, wasted male version of our old OB/GYN. And don’t for the love of Pete let there be an “if” about you going to see it. Just go. Go.
Wow, who put a goddamn nickel in me?! Such a long post. If you’re still reading, and you’re a woman, I think that you’re a good candidate for natural childbirth. You got endurance.
edit: And if you're a man*, I think that you could easily pass a golf ball through your penis. You're strong!
*Thanks, Adam, for alerting me to the hole in my post.