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Natural Childbirth Class Experience Duo: My Husband Has a Hand or Two. Believe It.

Natural Childbirth Class Experience Duo: My Husband Has a Hand or Two. Believe It.

I attended my first second childbirth class ever, this one on relaxation techniques during the most painful day(s) (yes, that’s plural. Did you know labor can go on for days? DAYS?) of your life. Like with my first class, I had my zen on, what with the three popsicles I’d scarfed on the way over. Until, that is, Midwife Goddess’s soft-spoken words hit my ears:

“Tonight we’re going to discuss pain management techniques. And I do want to call it pain this time. I don’t want any fantasies about this not being the most painful experience of many of our lives.”

Then, because I really didn’t believe her one bit, on clicked the old projector to show us a woman dying a slow torturous death in a pool of blood.

Early in my pregnancy, I’d made the mistake of YouTubing some videos on natural childbirth. I appreciate people trying to help others with their experiences, and honestly some of the videos were really insightful, but those were the ones I forgot. If I had any inkling of them left in my subconscious, after this video? They were forever shoved into the abyss of non-retrieval.

In this one, after the baby safely ejected from the vagina, the dad did a happy clap and splashed into the A positive water. Mom cried. The entourage I hadn’t noticed did a tribal-like jig. Our little audience of natural birthers made sweet cooing sounds not unlike those I make to every canine I come into contact with, foaming at the mouth or not.

cruelty-free

The steel of the chair felt like blades pressing into my back. “Didn’t it seem like she was dying?” I quietly asked my husband.

“Who?”

Really?

“That girl in the video,” I stage-whispered. “She was practically dying.”

The woman to my left who had her head nestled comfortably in her husband’s crotch gave me the evil eye. Shh.

“Oh. Right,” Husband said. “No.”

“WHAT?!”

“Birth is a positive experience. You’ve said it yourself a hundred times.” Husband straightened and smiled.

“How DARE you not equate giving birth with death! I mean, do you not think I’ll be feeling as if my insides are being ripped apart? Do you not realize I could BLEED to DEATH? What about THE BABY? Do you think it’s easy for this little being who’s been suspended comfortably in fluid for almost a year to shove her way out of a canal, like, ten times smaller than her head? How would you feel if your Netherlands RIPPED in all directions? Did you SEE all that BLOOD?!”

Similar to the first video in the first class, Midwife asked for our reflections. I went and sat on the toilet.

When I got back, everybody was making a fist. This was more like it. I wanted to beat the shit out of something, too. Eff pain.

“Fred,” Midwife didn’t really call me, “for 60 seconds we’re holding ice and mentally complaining about the uncomfortable sensation. Here we’re actually being negative and we’re going to reflect on how that negativity shaped our experience holding ice for 60 seconds.”

I held the crap out of the ice. I called it every name in the book and felt pretty good about it, too.

“Sixty seconds are up,” Midwife Goddess said with a gentle smile.

I held the crap out of the ice.

“Who will tell us how their negativity affected their ice-holding experience?”

Not me. My experience was still alive and well.

Son of a bitch.

Stupid bastard.

Piece of shit.

“I was just waiting for you to call time,” one girl said.

“That was the longest sixty seconds of my life,” her guy said.

I really held the crap out of the ice.

We were to continue suffocating re-grasp the ice and this time focus on our inhales and exhales, chasing any negative thoughts from our minds. How will it affect our experience of holding ice for 48,503 60 seconds this time?

Just a tiny nugget of truth here: Inhaling and exhaling and being positive about how uneasy it is to inhale and exhale when you’ve a mini watermelon hogging your interior is, well, not easy. So I held the crap out of the ice and persisted with my mental bitching. My ribcage felt like a compacted slinky, my back hurt, my ass hurt, and the dude who had been six comfortable feet away from me suddenly had his sock feet protruding into my bubble. Do I need to mention that fresh in my mind was the image of a girl basking in her own blood?

Another minute up. Reflection time.

That was so much better!

The experience wasn’t at all like the former!

I could do that again!

The difference is unreal!

By now my ice was almost completely incomplete between my white-knuckled fingers. My husband swaddled a paper towel around my fist and smiled.

All my pretty words and mental complaints were pulling me into YouTube land where women moaned like fatally wounded animals and yelled for it to END ALREADY, GOD, END ALREADY. The whiteboard behind me affirmed that on any given day 300,000 women are giving birth: We’re all going through it together. Bleeding. Ripping. Tearing. Not escaping. Oh, I was feeling it with the 300k women then, and it wasn’t even my day. My desire to punch something suddenly morphed into a desire to become one with the puddle of ice spreading into its imminent nonexistence over the carpet.

“All right, last time.” Midwife stood up again and her peaceful face hinted at just a shadow of discomposure. She tapped her watch and urged it to come on, but no avail. “Look at that. Does anybody have a functioning secondhand?”

This is where all the gallant men looked at their wrists to see if they could be the hero in getting our Ice Holding Experience back on track.

My husband, on the other hand, trained his concerned baby blues on Midwife and did a hands-up motion. He looked at his left hand for a beat, then fixed his gaze on his right. “I have a second hand.”

I mean, duh.

My remnant of ice dropped to the floor, and I. Freaking. Lost. It.

I lost it so hard there was no promise of inhalation or exhalation. I could feel eyes on me, and my husband was saying, “Just kidding. Sorry, that wasn’t that funny—lame joke.”

Thing is, it wasn’t funny. It was hys-ter-i-cal.

Because he hadn’t been meaning to make a lame joke. He hadn’t been joking at all.

No, my people person brilliant foil just professed to the group that he does, believe it or not, have not only a first hand but also a second hand. The lucky freaking duck.

Somebody had discovered a secondhand on their watch and kindly lent it to Midwife so the group could reconvene with their holding new ice cubes and focusing not only on breath and optimism but also visualization. “A flower opening up,” Midwife said. “A leaf dropping,” Husband said.

This made my laughing go from noticeable but ignorable chortles to full-out tears streaming down a beat-red hyperventilating mug. “You have to stop talking,” I said between laugh-gasps.

“My wife thinks I’m funny,” Husband said with a shrug to the group.

Midwife’s voice came through a smile. “That’s great. Laughter is one of the best pain managers there is.”

A bit of post-pregnancy reflection: I would SO endure those annoying preggo symptoms and the excruciating mini-eternity labor 1000 times over for this little face. Also, I now laugh at the concept of people invading my bubble. Need a cure for modesty or an aversion to people being in your space? Have a baby.

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Did you attend any childbirth classes? Was your experience anything like mine?

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