Saturday, January 15, 2005

Parenthood (Ongoing) part 2

Went to the 2nd birth class. Not only was this more agitating than the first time, but much more disturbing. There was more hypnotism, embarrasment, mean looks, and then.. on top of that... there was THE PROBLEM. But we'll get to that. I've gone ahead and compiled a list of various phrases the instructor used while discussing the birth process. These are terms, phrases and statements the instructor idley mentioned, and that I feel can be more euphonically described, however they DO definitely elicit a certain vibe (i.e. they're horrible sounding and conjur bad images).

1. Extent of bag-ripping
2. Mucous Plug
3. Head-Hook
4. Torn Vagina
5. ", tarry, sticky feces if the baby goes to the bathroom inside you..."
6. Loose Stools
7. Barnacle-like Growths
8. "...if you see a cord hanging down between your legs, it's probably time..."
9. Membrane Rupture
10. Surprise Leakage
11. "...cream-cheese like substance..."
12. Bloody Show

Those said (and I hope you had some nice, vivid images to accompany them), the birth class went as follows:

We showed up on time but the class had basically started about 5 minutes early. We remembered to bring pillows this time, but as it turns out, wouldn't need them. I made sure not to bring any gummi bears for fear of being hurled more chastising judgements. The instructor had made nametags for us and mine said 'Rowan'. I didn't want to be Rowan and it isn't my name, but I liked her handwriting so politely thanked her and stuck it to my chest: I became Rowan. Rowan needed a new personality, I decided, so adopted a kind of confused smugness, like a guy who is completely bored with something, mainly because he's too stupid to understand it. It worked well. Rowan was a big hit with everyone. We started with a video that consisted mostly of 2-dimensional drawings of a pregnant woman and what occurs when the baby drops. This was of interest, especially when they started discussing the head-hook. The head-hook is a small stick-like device with a wire coming out of it (similar to a snake-catching loop). There's a little hook on the end of the wire. The doctor, during a period when its difficult to gather the baby's heartbeat (usually the last stage of pushing the little tyke out) will reach inside the woman and stick the hook in the baby's head. Through this hook and wire, the baby's heartbeat can be picked up again. The person who invented this method gets my weirded-out look.

After the video, the instructor talked some more about the active phase of birth, where the terms mucous plug, bloody show, torn vagina, etc... came into play. As Rowan, I decided to entertain myself by writing down anything the instructor said that sounded horrible. Rowan filled pages. Rowan almost made himself sick. Rowan needed some fucking gummi bears but didn't bring any. Once the informative part of the class was over (about 5 minutes), the instructor had all of us sit on the blue mats. This time, the blue mats were sticky and smelled like chalk. Rowan decided not to put his head on the mat, and so, when lying down, was uncomfortable. She tried to hypnotise us again. It was nearly identical to the first session last week, complete with the beach-scenario and the long list of colors. Rowan almost started laughing (a very Rowan thing to do), but kept himself under control because Rowan hates attention. After the hypnotism (which almost worked on Maisy because she fell asleep and very nearly started snoring), the instructor had us sit up to learn about massage. Rowan hates massage. He keeps all of his stress in his back and shoulders and can't let it out or it will eat him. When something touches, presses or kneads his back or shoulders, little pains streak through his body and make him think of lashing out. The instructor had Maisy get behind me and put her hands on top of my head. Okay. Then, she introduced the term 'sprinkling rain', and said it was a kind of massage. Okay. Then she said what 'sprinkling rain' was. Uh... Basically, Maisy had to type on my head. She just rested her fingers on top of my head and started tapping it up. I had just taken my hat off so my hair was sticking up everywhere and there's my wife, typing on my head. I looked around the room and everyone was doing this. Sitting there, looking complacent and at peace, getting their heads typed-on. This is ridiculous and I feel like an idiot, Rowan thought, as Maisy typed out the confusing and mystical message 'asxbduv' across his receding, home-row hairline. Then, Maisy was told to lay her hands flat on my head making a circle with her thumbs and forefingers. She had to slowly widen the circle as it went down my head. As my head came through her hands, they widened considerably and made my hair pull, which hurt, and then I just felt like I was being made fun-of, it was so bad, and her hands were supposed to be imitating a vagina and it was all so stupid that Rowan took over and quietly said: "This is stupid. I feel like I'm being born." This was bad, because Maisy started laughing. Really hard laughing. It made me laugh. Then everyone laughed because we all thought it was stupid. The instructor didn't laugh. Maisy couldn't control herself at all after that and started laughing wildly so she had to leave the room. Everyone calmed down and we went on with the massage, except that I was alone, so had to type on my own head and felt really sad and self-conscious.

Maisy was allowed back in and she had stopped laughing, but told me I couldn't look at her for the rest of the class or she'd start laughing again. This was difficult because later on we had to pretend she was in labor and I was supposed to look into her eyes and tell her to breathe and help her count. Except she had told me not to look at her, so she laid there breathing and having to fake little grunts and things and I was looking away and saying 'breathe... good one... now breathe, 1, 2, 3, 4, great... now breathe' and I wasn't really paying attention to where I was looking, just making sure it wasn't at Maisy, and I think this other woman thought I was checking her out or something because she frowned and gave me a reproachful look. It was the same look she gave me last week over the gummi bear disturbance.

Last, we watched another video. The instructor introduced it as 'a highlight of how different women handle their active phase' and it was supposed to be different ways to cope with the pain. I watched as 9 babies were born, all of them filmed with the money-shot, and most of the women's coping mechanisms were horrifying. One woman moaned so heavily that it didn't sound human... it was more yak-like. Another woman kept saying 'shut up!' to anyone in the delivery room who spoke. One of them screeched intermittently while everyone in the delivery room chanted 'ho' over and over again, which Rowan thought was hilarious. Then the PROBLEM happened. The last birth they showed was nightmarish. Blood everywhere. Doctors freaking out. The woman's coping mechanism was to scream louder than anything I've ever heard (and I'm a dedicated horror movie fan), over and over again, screaming 'OH GOD... OH GOD MAKE IT STOP...
HELP ME OH GOD IT HURTS OH GOOOOOOD PLEASE NO HELP ME OH JESUS AAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! AAAAAAAAH NO! NO! NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!....." Screaming and screaming at the top of her lungs. The father was roaring alongside her, confused and horrified. The doctors were running all over the place, yelling and shouting to be heard over her screams and the husband's panicked roaring. Then the baby flipped out of her and started shrieking and kicking. There was so much screaming and horror that everyone watching the video in the birth class fell deathly silent and turned pale. Rowan disappeared deep inside my and hid behind an adenoid. Poor Maisy clutched my arm in fear. This video was not easing her suspicions of pain, it was cementing them. Her eyes were panicked and wider than a fully-dilated cervix. I thought, Damn it, shit. I've spent the last 8 months convincing Maisy that she's a strong woman, and young, and healthy, and that it won't be as bad as she thinks, that each push and pain is one step closer to the miracle of having a child, that it's all worth it and she'll be okay, she'll be fine... Oh, but now this video has just hurtled all of that hard work right out the fucking window and down about 60 stories. Though she'd told me not to, I chanced looking at my wife. And no, she didn't laugh. No, not at all. Instead, she closed her eyes and looked absolutely scared shitless. Thanks a lot, birth class.

After the video, there was about 5 minutes of uncomfortable, terrified silence where all of the women looked around at each other like infantry soldiers about to be dropped into hte 7th level of Hell with blanks in their rifles. Then the instructor folded her arms across her chest, proud, and calmly said, "Well, I'll see you all next week!".


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