Monday, August 27, 2007

Two days of vagina diagrams

Our weekend childbirth class turned out to be much less scary than I had imagined. I'm not sure why, but I had dreams of a drill sergeant-like instructor pacing the room with her hands behind her back saying things like, "Drop and give me 20 Lamaze breaths. Now scream because it HURTS."

When we got the class material in the mail a few days earlier, including a book and information sheet outlining what to expect and when, it immediately reinforced all of my irrational insecurities. The sheet read:
9:00: Introduction
9:30: Pain circle

Of course I freaked and yelled to Jerry who was in another room: "Did you see this? Pain circle? PAIN CIRCLE?! What the HELL is a PAIN CIRCLE? ... Is it my vagina? Is it some sort of torturous birthing device? Will we have to sit in a circle and share our feelings? ... Yeah, we're not going."

But Jerry convinced me to face the pain circle. In reality, it was a large poster with a big red felt circle labeled "PAIN." And over it, our instructor placed little white felt pie pieces labeled with ways to cope with that pain. When she was done, there was only one section of red remaining.

I was just relieved it wasn't some sick nickname for my lady parts.

The teacher, also much to my relief, was a friendly, knowledgeable, relatable, funny middle-aged woman with four children and lots of experience of her own. And appropriately named Eleanor.

Eleanor immediately picked up on the fact that Jerry and I were easy targets who would participate willingly, so a lot of the first day included good-intentioned jabs at our expense. And with Jerry, I guess nothing should surprise me anymore.

We took notes, got lots of handouts, watched videos, participated in group activities, discussed many important issues in-depth and came out with a better understanding of what to expect when my uterus starts saying, "It's time." Now, instead of complete panic, it will be controlled panic.

Plus I can say I know what a mucus plug is. Mmm ...

Here are a few other highlights:

  • After flipping through a series of posters outlining the progression of birth that increased in graphic intensity, Eleanor asked, "You okay Jerry? Still hanging in there?" Jerry's response: "Yeah, but I'd like to point out that sixth grade sex ed really doesn't prepare you for this."
  • Eleanor asked for a show of hands on who was exercising. Jerry, who has been running daily for a few months now, proudly raised his. The instructor just laughed. "Well, that's great Jerry, but I was mostly referring to the ladies on this one."
  • While watching very graphic videos of two different births, the rest of the class nodded intently. Jerry and I were gagging and giggling like idiots. Yup. We're SO ready to be parents.
  • When Eleanor asked us to get up and stand in stations about how we felt about receiving medication during labor, Jerry beelined for the neutral "I don't care either way" zone while I hung back in the "I'm going to try to go without because it's best for the baby" zone. Her point was that any couple who was unable to touch from their different locations needed to talk. And, of course, she used us as an example. Jerry, in his own defense said, "THIS WAS THE SAFE CHOICE AND NOW I'M IN TROUBLE!"
  • In her post-partum discussion, Eleanor pulled out a 3-D model of a placenta and explained that if we wanted to see ours, we would have to request it, otherwise it would be whisked away. Then she went on to explain that we could take it home if we wanted to and that many cultures cook it and eat it to increase longevity. Jerry's comment: "I'd rather set myself on fire."

Jokes aside, Jerry and I really learned a lot. We feel much better prepared to handle the uncertainties of birth and are better informed about our options. After that, we'll just have to figure out how to keep our daughter alive.

But that can't be any more intimidating than the pain circle.


Kristin said...

The one birth I witnessed, the doctor did not ask if mom wanted to see the placenta, he grabbed it and showed it for all to see and I almost threw up. Jerry has the right idea on that. Glad the classes are helpful and informative.

julie said...

While in Rochester this weekend I read the last few of your posts to my mom. She was cracking up with me over them. Especially the one about teaching Toby the difference between apples and apples.

its_just_ang from xanga said...

Just reading the words mucus plug make me want to puke. But other than that, I'm glad everything turned out good. As far as the pain circle, I think you were close when you were wondering if it was a nickname for your lady parts because I have heard them referred to as "the ring of fire." Not any less scary.

Ray said...

Ohmygoodness Jerry is a trip but he sounds so cute, when you write about him. I think it's great that you went to this class to keep you informed on what's to come. I can't say that if it was me I'd go to something like that, but it's great that you and Jerry are more prepared. I just can't wait to hear (read about), "The Birthing Story." Well that is if you release that to the public. ;o)

Take care, Kelly. You & Jerry are going to be GREAT parents.

Lioncloud said...

Don't be a martyr about asking for drugs. Unless you get something really intense, all pain relief meds do are take the top off the pain so that you feel in control again. You can't appreciate the concept of relief until the moment that Demerol hits your bloodstream.

My first words after your oldest cousin's birth? "Gee, I feel so much better now!"

Chelsea said...

Who eats a placenta?! That is disgusting, put a little ketchup on it lol.

Jennifer said...

With my first daughter I was in the same area as you. I wanted to try and do it all natural b/c I didn't want to harm the baby.

I got to 9 cm and the breathing wasn't helping. In fact I began feeling tingly and my lips were turning a tad blue. Apparently I was hyperventilating. By then I wanted the drugs!!

Big giant needle in the spine?? Sign me up baby! At that point they could've stuck it in my eye and I wouldn't have cared.

After getting it I realized I'd never put myself through such horrible pain again.

Daughter #2, I knew what to expect and I asked for the epidural as soon as I got there. They promised to bring it within 45 mins... at 46 mins I was freaking out demanding that my husband go and find out why it was taking so long.

Both my little girls turned out just fine. I was terrified they'd have something wrong b/c I took the drugs and couldn't bear the pain... but they don't, and neither do the thousands of other epidural babies.

My best advice is try it out. See how it feels but IF the pain is too strong don't feel guilty about taking an epidural. But, even if you do feel guilty... trust me, you'll feel SO MUCH BETTER after you get one that you really won't care. ;-)

Jennifer said...

Oh and by the way. The scarest word from my first baby class was episiotomy.

That one is a real horror

Wendy said...


Caps intentional, due to my excitement. I am going to have to share today's post with the husband. Thanks Kelly!

melinda hale said...

They have a class like that for siblings, too. I remember that my younger sister and brother and I went to one of those before our littlest brother was born. Please bear in mind that we are a very engineering/mechanically minded family. So my little sister was playing with the model of the baby, and proudly announced that it "came with an extension cord!"

And the littlest brother turned out fine, extension cord and all. Your baby will too!

Khatijaz said...

Hey, We are doing embryo in med school right now so to read the texts and then to hear u go thru it is pretty cool. Hope all is well

Marina said...

What was the one red part remaining in the pain circle? The actual..pain? That seems like a catch.

Shalini said...

Do what works for you and Jerry and of course the baby. Epidural I had, and it was great, and my daughter is fine.. but it's always about what YOU feel is BEST for YOU AND BABY AND HUBBY.

BTW, your hubby is FUNNY! I wish you guys had been in our birthing class, ours was a bunch weirdos and no sense of humor!

the not hungry plainsman said...

Good to know Jerry is still exercising, knew it would come in handy!LOL I couldn't imagine anyone not going to such a class as having the information beforehand helps to make good decisions when they are needed. Who knows about the drugs? Always remember my mom talking about her experience years later, she realized she was lucky, didn't feel sharp pain but "intense pressure, then relief." (And that was before epidurals were regurlarly administered.) So who knows if the drugs will even be necessary, you may be one of those very lucky ones.

Loved M-H's little sister's gem about "babies coming with an extention cord."