Thursday, March 29, 2007

Ok, ok, I'll stop complaining

I just read an article about some uncommon side effects of pregnancy, and it contained the following bit of information:

“…pregnant women may notice a third breast or nipple grow and darken near their arm pits, rib cage or stomach. … Sometimes, the breast produces milk. They typically dry up and disappear after a woman gives birth.”

Whoa. I guess I should stop whining about my swollen ankles, then.

Monday, March 26, 2007

What? You mean television lied to me?

Rob and I were seriously addicted to the show “Friends” when it was on, and I distinctly remember the episode when Rachel had her baby. She spent a good 30 hours lying around in a hospital bed, complaining because it was taking forever for her to dilate to 10 centimeters. Other women came and went in her shared room while Rachel lay around, bored and whining. For Rachel (and apparently all the other pregnant women who briefly shared her room), the actual pain didn’t start until it was time to push and deliver the baby.

Our last childbirth preparation class was yesterday. Now that the class is over, I have to say that the biggest thing I learned about childbirth was that movies and television have lied to me my whole life.

I’ve been led to believe that all the early labor and dilation stuff was a cakewalk – that labor doesn’t get painful until it’s actually time to deliver the baby. I was all prepared to bring a book, or even “Friends” DVDs, to the hospital to pass the time while I waited to do the real work at the end.

No such luck.

In fact, the teacher said something last night that seemed completely unfathomable to me: “Pushing doesn’t really hurt.”

What? But that’s the part where the female character always screams and crushes her coach’s hand and curses him for getting her into this situation in the first place.

According to our teacher, the really painful part is when you’re having all of those contractions to work your way up to 10 centimeters. Once it’s time to deliver the baby, pushing the kid out just comes naturally.

So, let me get this straight.

First, I go to the hospital when the contractions are three to five minutes apart, and NOT the first time I feel a uterine twinge. (TV misled me on that point, too.)

Then, after I get to the hospital, I won’t be lying around for 20 hours, calmly awaiting the moment of delivery. I’ll be walking around, sitting in a chair, maybe taking a shower, breathing my way through painful contractions every few minutes, and generally not lying around watching TV. And if I’m going to crush my husband’s hand and curse him for doing this to me, THIS is when it’ll happen.

And finally, when it comes time to deliver the baby, it’ll be a relief.

Well, then. I may bring a book with me on the off chance I actually have down time while I’m in the hospital. But I think I’ll leave the “Friends” DVDs at home.

Monday, March 19, 2007

My list

Before I started taking childbirth classes, I had the impression that they would be some sort of profound experience for me. I kind of expected to be taught how to make childbirth painless, as if that were even possible.

Instead, my to-do list for dealing with labor is two items long:
1. Relax.
2. Breathe.

We learned the physiological reasons for why it’s so important to relax as much as possible, and we’ve talked about different breathing techniques for helping achieve that relaxation. But those are just details, as it all seems to boil down to those two instructions: Relax. Breathe.

I’m supposed to be practicing my breathing techniques on my own at home, but most of the time I find myself watching TV instead. But I’ve found that these breathing methods do come in handy in other situations, so I get a little practice in anyway.

If something minor happens at work to set off my pregnant-lady waterworks, I can stave off the tears by taking those deep, deep breaths. If someone cuts me off in traffic, I hold back the swearing by focusing on patterned breathing. And when I see a coworker getting angry about something trivial, I find myself thinking, “He could really use a Lamaze class.”

If only everyone could learn those two little words. Say them with me:



Monday, March 12, 2007

Mommies on ice

We had our second childbirth class on Sunday evening, and the instructor introduced a new element to our relaxation exercises: extreme discomfort.

She had a point, really. She said that all the breathing exercises in the world don’t teach you much if you’re relaxed and calm. You have to practice them under duress if you want to know their real effect.

So she had our coaches get plastic bags and fill them with ice. Then she’d say, “Ok, a contraction is coming,” which was the mothers’ signal to hold the bag from underneath with one hand, and put the other hand directly into the ice. We’d keep our hands there for the duration of the so-called contraction, and then set the bag down afterward.

It seemed kind of funny at first, eliciting a few giggles from the moms in attendance. I think we were all thinking, “Ice is no big deal, we can handle that.” But after the tenth “contraction,” I was ready to renounce ice forever, sticking to warm drinks for the rest of my life and, of course, moving to a warmer climate.

As my husband calmly rubbed my back and tried to help me relax, all I could think was, “Why don’t YOU sit here with your hand in this bag? Why don’t YOU take deep breaths and stare at a freaking focal point??”

And that was just ice.

I’m sure I’ll be an absolute joy to be around on the day I give birth.

A note to my husband, my doctor, my nurses and whomever else crosses my path that day: I’m very sorry for how mean I will be to you. I’m usually pretty nice, I swear.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

The faint of heart

Since before Rob and I got married, my family has joked about what we can expect in the delivery room the day I give birth to our first child. The family consensus is that I’ll be pushing, swearing and doing the mom-in-labor thing, and Rob will be passed out on the floor.

Quickly after meeting Rob, my family discovered Rob’s deep squeamishness when it comes to all things gross and/or painful – including surgery, horrific injury and needles. Thus, when I announced my pregnancy, my mother very quickly suggested that I have a back-up labor coach. At one point, when I assured her that Rob could handle the job, I could almost swear I saw tears of worry shimmering in her eyes. I know she just wanted to be sure that her daughter has someone, well, conscious to help during the labor and delivery, but I didn’t know how to convince her that she had nothing to worry about.

Yesterday, Rob and I attended our first childbirth class, and Rob confirmed what I already suspected – that he’s more than ready to see me through that long day when our daughter (or son) finally arrives.

Much of the class was taken up with a childbirth video, which I had been awaiting with a certain amount of dread, certain that watching women give birth would make me start bargaining with God, trying to figure out some alternative plan for getting the baby out of me. And I had some fear that the entire class would be disrupted by my husband vomiting on the floor during the worst scenes.

None of that happened.

Instead of revulsion, we experienced nothing short of complete awe. Something clicked inside both of us, and we finally realized that not only is this baby the most important thing we’ve accomplished so far in our lives, but that bringing her into the world is something we CAN do.

Both of us.

Without fainting.


Monday, March 5, 2007

A 70% princess

A few weeks ago, my husband and I got to see our baby in all the beautiful glory that a tiny, black-and-white ultrasound screen can provide. Naturally, we believe our baby’s yawns, kicks and waves during the procedure were just about the cutest things any baby has ever done in the history of the world.

Besides getting to see our child actually looking like a baby – previous ultrasounds had shown us a dot and a tadpole, respectively – we were thrilled that we’d finally get to know our baby’s gender. I know lots of couples relish the thought of waiting until their child’s birth to find out whether to decorate in pink or blue, but we are not one of those couples. I’ve been known to start pestering my husband to hand over my birthday presents in mid-July. My birthday is in mid-August. Waiting for surprises just isn’t in my blood.

That’s why it was a little deflating to hear the ultrasound technician say, “Hmm … well … umm … I think it’s a girl. … I’m 70 percent sure. But, if you buy any girl clothes, keep the receipt.”


I’d been expecting a “girl” verdict, mostly because of the many dreams I’ve had in which our baby was a girl. (Never mind the one where the baby was a hamster.) My mom also tried an old-wives-tale needle trick to predict the baby’s gender, and came up with a prediction that my first child would be a girl and the second a boy, so there you go.

Because our instincts tell us we’re having a girl and the ultrasound technician told us we might be having a girl, we’ve decided to start calling her by our preferred girl name, which is Kaylee Jane.

We talk to her regularly, and I’ve already gotten some practice speaking in my stern-mom voice: “Kaylee Jane, stop kicking mommy in the bladder!” (And she’s gotten some practice ignoring her mother’s commands.)

I just hope that after months of being called “she” while in the womb, our baby won’t be scarred forever if it happens to be a boy. Really though, I doubt that’ll do much damage. The real emotional trauma will come when he’s a teenager and I show his girlfriends a photo of him dressed in the cute pink tank top and tennis skirt I’ve already bought him. He’ll never live that one down.