Week 30 ~ January 1 - 7, 2006
Well, we started our Birth and Labour class last night. It was extraordinary; after all this time wandering alone in the pregnancy desert, I was suddenly in a room with at least 10 other pregnant women, all due within days of myself! All those grunts and groans, uncomfortable shifting in seats and giant bellies were mirrored many times over - it was weird! As we introduced ourselves, it would seem that everyone is due within just a few days of each other, and we're almost all having boys! Aaron miraculously was able to get the night off from work and come with me, so we sat together in awe, two rookies, not exactly sure what to think.
Our instructor, Amy, is very sweet, chatty, and eager to help. We were asked to make out lists of our concerns, so that she would have a guide to go by in making sure she covers each and every aspect that we're not sure about. I'm nervous about pain management (biggest pain wimp ever) and episiotomies. How much will the epidural hurt going in, I don't know?! Also breast-feeding, will I get a breast-feeding counselor through the hospital? I don't intend to breast feed, but while my body is producing milk, I would like to pump and bottle feed in tandem with formula. I have no idea how to go about this, help me, Amy! Aaron's list of concerns was pretty short - he lives in sheer terror that he just won't be able to do it, period. He doesn't have a clue as to what he's supposed to do, he feels helpless to help me much, and just knows he's going to join the ranks of the infamous fainting daddies. We all read our lists out loud to the rest of the class, and afterwards Amy assured us that all our questions were 100% normal, and promised that we would all have the answers we needed before the course is out. Phew!
The majority of the class was spent discussing the different topics we would cover, watching a brief video, and then talking about Braxton Hicks vs. real labour. After a break, we were then asked to get down on floor mats with our pillows, and simulate various labour positions and breathing techniques. We had a 2-sided sheet just full of diagrams of various positions we were encouraged to try. Incredible! I had no idea that labour had turned into such a hippie birth fest! Aaron and I stared at each other lamely, completely unsure of how to finagle ourselves into these insane positions, along with the suggested pillows, back supports, or birthing balls. Now, I'm sure that when I actually go into labour and start experiencing the pain of it, that I'll be screaming out for someone to help me get into the much more comfortable backwards doggie style on the giant birthing ball position, with Aaron knotted around me supporting my weight and stroking my hair. However, the current awkward, tired and cynical pregnant person I am grew tired of this odd game of Twister, and was mentally screaming out, "what happened to the good old days with me on my back, Aaron up by my head so I can yell at him, and extensive drugs?!" There were several positions that would not work for us because Aaron is so tall and I'm so short, we simply couldn't meet up. Several more were just so, well, ridiculous that I could not do them in front of the class with any seriousness. However, if balancing on a giant rubber ball with my leg up over my head, and Aaron supporting my weight from the behind while playing my tummy like a bongo drum is what will help make labour go faster, well, I'll try anything once . . .
Call me what you will, but as we started into positioning plus breathing, the night just got all the more uncomfortable. I've never been a meditative type, never got in to yoga, meditation, visualization, or anything of the sort. Now, I know for a fact that these relaxation techniques are a lifesaver for some, but for me, it's always been a wasted effort. Motivational visualizations just make me giggle. If I want to relax and stop thinking about the madness in my life, I take a bath and read a book. Breathing exercises and controlled, rhythmical breathing makes me uneasy, and I just know I'm going to start hyperventilating at any moment - it's just plain not my thing! This being the case, you can imagine my added discomfort when started the breathing techniques in with our experimental birthing positions. Here I am, standing with my face nestled in Aaron's neck, my arms up around him, while he has one hand between my breasts to feel my breathing movements and the other is massaging my belly, while we're deep breathing in sync with one another. It was just so intimate! When we had finished with the exercise, I felt almost guilty that we had just done that in public, what with all the caressing and breathing and snuggling. This is the guy that I sleep next to every night, the one who knows me better than anyone else and with whom I am having a child with, and I have never felt so close to him. Obviously, one would hope that you can feel close with your partner when giving birth to your children, but still . . . obviously, this is an exercise we're going to have to practice at home so that Jennifer feels less self-conscious about her rhythmically breathing self.
Then, in an "in your face, meditation!" moment at the end of the session, just as we were all laying on the floor imagining ourselves overcoming great obstacles to climb the top of our cliff (or in my case, imagining conquering a piece of peanut butter toast when we get home), Aaron's cell phone went off. I was mortified of course that we had suddenly become "that couple" that everyone is totally annoyed with. Still, a small part of me couldn't help but feel a little immature and gleeful at his mad scramble to get up off the mat and get to his obnoxious phone to turn it off. I was getting nowhere with visualization, anyway. Still, I think next time we'll leave the cell phones in the car.
Redeeming himself after class, with our instructor at least, Aaron volunteered to wear the dreaded pregnancy suit. He stood there excitedly as Amy strapped on his bladder weight, restrictive breathing chest band, fake boobs and belly. Of course, it was ridiculous (hopefully I'll have pictures soon!), but Aaron loved it, strutting around the ward, talking to groups of parents coming out from their classes. He granted that the whole thing was "uncomfortable," but not too bad. I challenged him to try it for 9 months, though that prospect didn't sound quite as much fun to him. Ah well.
In other Aaron news, he has his Daddy Boot Camp class Saturday, so we'll see how he does with that (hopefully sans cell phone).
We have an appointment with our OB on Monday, and I have a whole slew of new questions for him. First and foremost, I need to know if we're still on track for our due date. I need to start getting my maternity leave time figured out for my boss, but this being my first time around, I'm really not too sure how to handle it! Aaron is pretty set to go on paid (lucky) leave for a month just after the first of March, while I'm still floundering on how much time to take, when to start, etc. I'd like to be home (albeit on-call) around the week I'm due, but with this whole 2 weeks before/2 weeks after due date allowable window for when I'll actually go into labour, how on earth do I know when to start my leave?! Hopefully we'll be able to narrow it down some after a talk with Dr. Abbott, so I'll feel more prepared submitting my time-off form.
Our other questions range from the normal complaints (I hurt, I can't sleep, my arms are numb!), to some more self-induced panic questions. "Tell me which pediatrician to choose, because I'm not from here and I don't know who is the best!" Or, "if I eat peanut butter and the baby has a food allergy to peanuts, am I killing him with peanut butter toast?" I'm sure, however, that come Monday, Dr. Abbott will have us back on our normal neurotic path, until we think up a whole new crop of questions to ask him.
In other moans/groans news, I have outgrown all my shoes and as I cannot even reach my feet anymore to zip up my slightly roomier boots, I've had to resort to buying several new pairs of slip on shoes. This change came much to Aaron's chagrin, as he is convinced that I already have 2000 pairs of shoes too many. He grew grimly quiet, however, once I informed him that there is a probability that my feet will always be a little bigger now, and after the birth I'll have to go out and replace ALL my shoes. Ha!
And finally, I have one of my showers in the works. It's being thrown for me by my mom's friend Ronda, and her two daughters. We're set for a January 28th brunch, with lots of delicious coffeecakes and fruit, and no obnoxious games! Hurrah! Ronda and my mom have been scheming together, getting invites sent out, decorations bought, etc. This will be my first shower of three (spoiled), and I'm really excited. The next will be in February, a combination birthday party for myself and baby shower. We're planning a barbecue for all of our friends, men and women, so that everyone can come and eat and make merry. The last shower is being thrown for me after Charlie is born, by Aaron's sister Jennifer. She suggested the later shower so that I'd have an opportunity to clean up on any last few baby items that I might still need, but didn't have yet. Plus, as she lives an hour and a half away, it'll be a good chance for her to see the baby. Fun, fun!