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Natural Childbirth Class Experience Uno: Hippies and Blood Baths

A few months ago I gave yoga a shot.

It made me want to have a shot.

Contorted me kept thinking one thing as the soft-spoken 50-something woman with a goddess’s body reached her limbs up to the sky as blue as the rhythmic ocean waves behind her:

Wtf. Seriously. WTF?

I get the point of yoga. I also get the point of hysterectomies. I think there’s something wrong with people that friggen peaceful (uh, the zen folk, whom I assume the latter are not). Maybe it’s just my way of eschewing the fact that I can’t seem to close my mind off and activate those alpha waves while thinking pretty thoughts: It’s easier to just call names and want to punch a hole through something.

The first childbirth class I attended was in a yoga/meditation studio. Shit, I thought. Better get my zen on. But how does one get her zen on, anyway? For me, this meant screeching to the grocery store, elbowing my way through the door, and stuffing two boxes of popsicles under my arms before waddling my way all entitled-like to the checkout line. Did I do any of the eight popsicles the injustice of letting them melt in the Highlander? Why, no, of course not. I ate them all. In record time. Dripped on my stomach once, boobs twice, and never felt so effing zen.

Be zen, be zen, be zen, I kept telling myself as I heaved out of the car and slowed my way to the meditation studio behind the loan offices and melanoma-in-20-minutes fake baking establishment. So, sure, the $12.99 frozen heaven was organic, but was it the 3,994 grams of sugar making me light-headed, or the fact that I was about to go learn about purging another human being out of my body? Gingerly I sucked in a breath, leveled a look at my husband, and tiptoed through where the light met the dark.

The door almost shattered off its hinges, my eyes adjusted, and some 40 other peepers stared back at me through the dimness, assessing. Smile and salute from me. A little accompanying grunt-slash-hiccup. Am I a people person or am I a people person?

One of the midwives I’d interviewed with in August was there. I guess delivering oodles of crying babies from wailing moms for several decades makes you equipped to teach a class on a couple relaxation techniques. Said midwife—let’s call her Midwife Goddess—looked a lot like the gal in the yoga video I once tried to keep up with. Age is on her smiling side: I kind of wanted to be fifty when I stared at her. I just don’t think I could deal with so many vaginas.

“We’re supposed to take our shoes off,” from behind me. “Honey—shoes.”

Ah. That must be my husband, I thought.

I tried to be all casual about hopping out of my moist pink tennies (hey, it was humid out, mmk?) before traipsing by the wire shelf spitting out yoga mats and the people spitting out small talk.

If there’s anything I hate in this world, it’s two things: Onions, first and most passionately. But a close second is small talk.

I spotted the bathroom and took no prisoners on my way to it.

Hubs and I snatched two steel chairs and sat at the edge of the circle. Scoot back, I intoned, grabbing the edge of his chair and distancing us another couple feet from the circle.

First things first: write down one thing you fear about birth and one thing you trust, instructed age-defying midwife.

Shoot, I’ve so got this.

Trust:

K, I’ll come back.

Fear:

BLOOD.

DEATH.

AN UNHEALTHY OUTCOME.

BLOOD.

DEATH.

“One thing . . .” Midwife Goddess cooed.

SCISSORS.

KNIVES.

NEEDLES.

STITCHES.

MY UTERUS RIPPING APART.

“Great. Now I’ll collect those and your pens.”

BLOOD.

DEATH.

Trust:

Trust:

Trust:

“I’ve got all the papers and pens, right?”

Okay, time to do the introduction thing. Who are we and why are we here?

All the gals did the piping up. Half the dudes looked fresh off an extensive session of electroshock, a handful as uncomfortable as a redneck in a bow tie, and a few like they were still enjoying a plant-induced stupor.

I don’t know what I said. I tend to zone myself out better than almost anybody (except my mom) does. I think I mentioned my reason for being having to do with distrust in the system and fear of few things foot-long except when they come in the form of needles stabbing my spine. “An epidural,” I clarified between clenched teeth. All the other faces recoiled, too.

I like to pretend I’m not a judgy bitch. I also pretend I’m Chris Hemsworth in a Nordic cape and marooned on a foreign planet. Truth? I might just be a judgy bitch sometimes. Most of the time. All the time. But when you’re sitting near me, nodding vehemently at everything everyone says and amid your own introduction about living with your boy toy, five kids, ex-husband, and popping out this baby as a favor to your partner (who loves babies almost as much as your ex-husband), I’m going to wear the expression I wear when I see sweaty hairy butt cracks. (Yes, I do see sweaty hairy butt cracks. It’s called Big Macs plus small-town dudes working on their Fords in their driveways. Mostly dudes.)

I got up to pee.

When I got back, my husband gave me that signature sweet smile. Zen, I thought. I’m so effing zen.

An image projected on the wall showed a woman with the biggest boobs I’ve ever seen swooshing around a pool in her living room and grabbing between her legs. Her voice was like molasses—sedative, even. Softly she said, “This is a contraction—a pretty intense one.”

Her face didn’t change. Then again, I don’t think I was staring at her face.

“Op—I’m pushing now,” she whispered. “Pushing here. Reeeally pushing.”

Then the baby crowned. If you don’t know what that means, I’m curious why you’re reading any of this, weirdo, and I urge you not to look it up. It’s not as royal as it sounds.

Damn you, you just looked it up.

Mom in Pool was soundless until she said, “I’m stimulating my nipples to get a contraction going.” Then her husband, also in the pool since I didn’t notice when, helped with the stimulation. And women say men have it easy in childbirth.

“Nobody is touching my boobs,” I said to my husband. His expression fell.

It was when the gal who delivered her own baby in a blow-up pool let her four-year-old daughter climb into the now crimson water that I utilized the facilities again.

The old projector clicked off. I was suddenly aware that I stunk.

Midwife Goddess with hands folded delicately in her lap: “How did that video make you feel?”

Taking in the room, I couldn’t deny that every face in there was about as colorless as mine and unblinking. Even the guy with hair down to his butt and the couple who must share a stylist with Kim Kardashian. Probably a green tentacle with an eye and two semiautomatics for arms could come in yelling ALIEN INVASION and we’d all remain colorless, unblinking, at the wall where the boobs were.

Somebody farted.

I nodded.

“Now, it’s not entirely normal how stoical she was,” the midwife said. “She’s been around birth for a long time and knows what’s going on with her body.”

I know what’s going on with my body, too: My boobs hurt, my uterus hurts, my stomach hurts, my throat feels like it’s been stuffed through a meat grinder twice and doused with kerosene, and my back’s been hit with a baseball bat filled with lead. Now teach me stoic. Please. I’m ready for stoic. Zen. Inner peace. GIVE IT TO ME NOW.

Or, okay. Another box of popsicles will do just fine.

“I, uh, might freak out a little more than that,” a youngish gal said as she fidgeted.

I smiled. Not at her maybe freaking out a little, but at her admission of a lack of peace, too.

Trust: Yoga can go screw itself, get knocked up, try to stretch beyond the basketball in its belly, and tell me about zen.

Post-delivery reflection: In giving birth, three-letter word ZEN was millions of miles behind three-letter words END and NOW. But, Baby on my lap as I type this, I now know zen. I seriously know zen.

(Plus I have a popcicle in hand.)

 infant babymom parenting

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