Birth in the ’70s

Actually, this aid might be from the ’70s as well…maybe it came along with “The Miracle of Life” kit? :)

We took a birthing class on Saturday, which, to say the least, was quite “interesting.”

Actually, to back up a bit, about a week ago, a friend of ours gave us and another couple an informal, mini “class” on birthing, which I found to be super helpful. A former nurse, a mother of two (via natural birth) and an acting “doula” for her sister, Andrea Adkins knows a thing or two about having babies.  She was the first person we ever knew to have a natural birth (and since then we’ve known more people to go the natural route than to have medication–isn’t that a total anomaly?), and so we’ve always viewed her as an expert in the birthing field. She sat down with us and went over some basics (and mostly answered our burning questions), and I can say that I left feeling a lot more educated than I came.  I mean, I’ve done a lot of reading and video-watching, but there were just some, um, let’s just say “logistics” and scientific questions I couldn’t seem to have answered without a knowledgable person to talk to.

Now fast forward to Saturday. Since we’re only about 29 weeks, we took the birthing class a bit earlier than most people (who all seemed to be in the mid-30s), but since Ryan’s traveling a lot before the baby comes, and since I REALLY wanted him there, we opted to go early rather than never. I hate to say this, but my biggest surprise was how unprepared and uninformed the other couples, who are mere weeks away from the big event, really were. From a lot of their questions, I found myself wondering if they had even read a single thing about giving birth or if they were all in birthing denial. I mean, I’m no expert by far, but I started to get frustrated that so much of our time was being taken up by questions like, “You can’t walk with an epidural?” (seriously?) and “How can a husband help in breastfeeding?” (did you not see “Meet the Parents?”–sorry, you can’t be milked, mister).

Especially after having Andrea talk us through so much in detail, I also started to want to comment back on the midwife’s answers. For example, she gave a little spiel about banking cord blood, and I’m pretty sure she got a lot of the information wrong (not just from our conversation with Andrea, but even from the information the companies have published online and in literature), and I know that most of the couples at the class won’t even consider it since she made it seem confusing and unnecessarily expensive. I, of course, held my tongue, which took all of my strength due to my Type-A-personality-so-I-must-correct-people urges.

Then there were the videos. Oh, goodness the videos. Really, not that it would make the birthing experience any easier to stomach, but why in the world has no one updated “The Miracle of Life” since the 1970s??? I mean, even getting beyond the ridiculously outdated look of the people and cinematography, let’s just talk about how irrelevant some of the content is: 1. None of the women had epidurals (which is a huge part of the current-day experience), 2. The one woman who did had a c-section and all she talked about was how nice the epidural was compared to being knocked out (a totally ’60s notion a la Betty Draper), 3. A lot of the mothers’ commentary was about how wonderful it was to have their husbands at their side (a then-new-notion, but totally no-duh by today’s standards)…let’s just say that the best thing I gleaned from that video was the shocking and disgusting nature of the whole process. Really, so far from what I’ve seen, this whole thing seems less like a “beautiful miracle” and more like a “horrifying train wreck.”

And, as a side note, Ryan and I were joking that most of those babies born are now in their 40s. If you’re at your own birthing class and YOU are the baby featured in “The Miracle of Life,” it’s time to update! Could you imagine???

It was a really long day (about six hours or so), and I have to tattle on him–Ryan fell asleep! I felt a little bad since he’s been traveling like crazy and had just gotten back on Friday night, but after letting him catch a few moments of rest, I had to nudge him awake before he started snoring or something. To be fair, it was during a how-to-sooth-your-baby video, so the lights were off and the video was very calming, but it was really important information, so I couldn’t let him sleep too long. In fact, in hindsight, I think I’d rather have taken one of the classes that focuses only on newborn care (maybe I still will), since I learned a lot more from that portion of the class than from the birthing part.

The final shocking moment from the class: The Northside Hospital promo video (which is where our practice delivers and, for you out-of-staters, is one of the best birthing hospitals in the country) was so out of date as well! I was really shocked; I know that our standards for video here at the Shove household are way higher than the average person’s, but man! Their video must be from the ’90s, and they mention several times about their exquisite decor (while featuring rooms in mauve and teal with art framed in brass on the walls) and modern features, and I was just thinking, “Thank goodness I’m not unfamiliar with this hospital/that this video isn’t really a factor in my decision to go there!” I turned to Ryan as soon as it was over and said, “Well there’s a new piece of business to go after…”

So, now that I’ve ragged on what I didn’t enjoy about the class, let me just say that it wasn’t a total waste of time. I was able to ask a few logistical questions about birthing at Northside specifically, as well as learning more about the strengths and philosophies of the other doctors in my practice that I haven’t met with yet. I also found a renewed vigor for pregnancy wellness (we’ve been in a lot of eating out situations lately, my body’s been aching a lot so I’ve been walking a little less, I’ve allowed myself a few sodas lately, I haven’t been drinking a ton of water like before, etc….in the middle here it’s just dragging a bit, so I’ve been less diligent over the past few weeks). And, of course, there’s the benefit of starting to get Ryan to wrap his head around the situation since he’s going to play a big role in this process.

Overall, maybe I’d rather have my hundred dollars back (to pay Andrea for some more one-on-one time), but I’m glad it’s over and done with. Now onto the actual birth itself–God help me! :)

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