Karl and I took our first labor and delivery class yesterday from 6:00 - 9:00 p.m. at St. Francis. The class was called "Coping with Labor". There were about eight other couples in class with us (and a platter of really good chocolate chip cookies). There was one other gal who was due the week before us, otherwise, I was basically the next in line.
April 16. That seems so close, doesn't it? Gulp!
We went around and introduced ourselves and shared some thoughts.
My thoughts: "Hello everyone! Well, Karl and I have never changed diapers. We're not around babies or children. We don't know what we're doing. What to expect. So thought this would be fun."
In response there were some nervous giggles and looks from some people, the look of...."ummm - what were you thinking?"
No bigs, right? I can learn. There are tons of things I didn't know how to do and am now pretty good at them. But then I realized I was asking myself this same question a lot after the class. What was I thinking???
One major piece I took away was HAVE NO FEAR! Fear causes the most problems. Your body tenses and baby doesn't want to move and the pain begins. And it's a cycle. I just need to stay focused and calm the best I can, and baby shouldn't have any troubles. Problem was, FEAR was ALL I felt when I left the class. LOTS of FEAR. Can I do this? Will the pain be unbearable? Will I have to spend days feeling that pain?? Will I have the back labor? Will baby take his/her sweet time?? My plan of having the baby while working out on the stair stepper quickly went out the window.
The tips and pointers the teacher shared with us were good. We learned breathing techniques. What to do when a contraction comes on. She showed the husbands what they need to do to support and encourage us (I liked this part a lot). Let me just say, I'm so glad I have Karl. For real. He makes me laugh when I need him to!! She also suggested some items to bring with us to the hospital - ipod, heating pad, two really cold Coke cans (good for the back) and a water jug. And I must ask for "the bean" if I do get an epidural. Will do!
This was all good stuff. Then we got down on our mats and practiced some stretches. We learned some great ones, especially good ones if I'm suffering from bad back labor. And there were things Karl was shown that he could do to help the process a long, like pushing my hips and tailbone. I'm really thinking about sitting on a fitness ball at work from now on to help turn the baby in the right position, so I can eliminate any chance of back labor. That just looks really painful!
The scary part was watching the video of an actual birth. From 6:00 a.m. to 7:07 p.m. a video camera followed around a couple going through a drug-free birth. Man, that woman was in a LOT of pain throughout the entire day. Karl kept saying, "Why wouldn't you get an epidural, lady???"
And then, they showed the head coming through and tears just started falling down my cheeks. I don't know where they came from. I couldn't stop them. I just couldn't believe what this woman went through - all the pain. She also demonstrated different ways to cope with her labor pains. She sat on an exercise ball. She relaxed in a bathtub. Her husband massaged her. There were tons of different things she did to help her get through it all. And if I choose an epidural, you can't do many of these. But an epidural sure sounds good to me.
The video scared me. Just because I saw how painful birth really was. But once that baby came out....wow.... Truly amazing.
They did interview a couple of moms in the video. One of them said an ankle sprain was way worse on her because at least with her contractions and labor, she knew there was an end point and she focused on that. I thought, OK...I can do this. I've sprained both ankles at least a dozen times playing volleyball. And yes, sprains are very painful and suck. If I can get through those, I can get through this. Right?
This morning I'm starting to give myself more credit and have started to relax a bit. Every one has a different story. Yes, the woman in the video was in super great shape and clearly worked out and took care of herself, but she still isn't me. And she did it. Millions of women do this all the time. I'll be able to do it and I'm sure I'll forget all about the pain once our baby is placed on my chest.
All I know is there is so much more than science behind all of this. Life is so incredible.