[Pregnancy Day 215]
After attending a rousing introductory class in breastfeeding last week, Kristen and I began our 1st of 4 “Labor and Delivery” classes this week. I was hoping to live-tweet my experience, but unfortunately the class only had 16 people, the seats were arranged to face each other, and constant use of my cell-phone was immediately banned by my wife. Instead I’m left with only the most scarring of memories that I happen to retain and a handful of notes that I jotted down posthaste as Kristen spent the requisite 5 minutes that it takes her to don her coat nowadays.
All 4 classes will have the same instructor. I honestly have no memory of her name, as it took me several minutes to adjust to the incessant giggling of the grown man next to me. His ZZ Top style beard gave him a look of a stoic hipster, but, for at least one night, the part of “Stoic Hipster” was played by “Tittering Nincompoop.”
The teacher said she was 60, though her energy level was more on par with a spastic 6 year old, and her massive bangs were reminiscent of a young Debbie Gibson. She gave us all her cell phone number; obviously good to have in the case of a prenatal emergency requiring an immediate answer to a question involving a woman’s anatomy, Kegel exercises, or popular hairstyles of the 80s.
Nameless teacher then motioned to the many exercise balls strewn about the room, which she called “birthing balls” and invited the women to use them if they were uncomfortable in the chairs (I silently released the one I’d been using as a foot rest). She then pulled the awkward maneuver of straddling one as if she was riding a horse, telling us that it was her preferred method of sitting. Weird enough on its own, but exponentially more eccentric when coupled with the fact that she was wearing a pants suit.
Hyper-bouncy, dressed-to-impress Debbie Gibson then launched into the meat of the class. I have to admit, it was super informative, and I learned all sorts of weird things about that I had intentionally tuned out in middle school health class. The top 10 the things I learned:
- A uterus is triple ply! Now I know to ask for uterus strength toilet paper at the store.
- When a woman’s water breaks, it is usually more of a trickle of water, not the exploding fire hydrant effect, as it is portrayed in movies. (Nameless teacher actually gestures with both hands as if fireworks are exploding from her vagina to complete the visual.)
- A uterus can be distended up to 500 times it’s normal size. This is why moms with twins or triplets often go into labor early: their uterus gets to that 500x mark and is all like, “Oh, hell no. You get these babies out me right now!” (Uteruses are well known to have sassy attitudes.)
- The fundus is both the top part of the uterus and the 1st place finisher in the “Coolest Part of the Uterus” name contest. (Mucous plug finished last.)
- “Zero station” is when the baby’s head drops down into the pelvis and, like, birth happens. “Zero station” is also the name of a lost David Bowie album. “Zero station” is definitely gunna be the name of some warped celebrity couple. “Zero station is the phrase I was writing when nameless teacher asked me what I thought about a thing she said that I didn’t hear because I was busy writing “zero station” jokes.
- Oxytocin is the hormone that the body releases to cue labor. It’s also a hormone involved in attachment, love, and intimacy, and is even released when a person orgasms. I regret to inform you that 60-year-old Debbie Gibson made a few subtle motions to emphasize this point. She didn’t go full When Harry Met Sally on us, but it was enough for me to rethink several decisions that led me to this point in my life.
- Most mammals give birth to their babies still in the amniotic sac, which I assume is a lot like Kramer dropping his oil bladder invention out of the window on Seinfeld.
- If Kristen’s water breaks at home, it’s important for me to take note of 4 characteristics of the amniotic fluid. To remember what 4 things, I should think of the acronym COAT. C – Color of the fluid, O – Odor of the fluid, A – wait, ODOR OF THE FLUID?!? I completely miss what A and T stand for.
- There are 3 stages of labor. I’ll rank them in order of what I’m most excited for:
1st – Stage 2: When the baby is actually born.
2nd – Stage 1: All the contractions and associated vulgarities up until the actual birth.
3rd – Getting hit by a car.
527th – Stage 3: When the placenta detaches from the uterine wall and is expelled through the vagina like a dead jellyfish washing up on your foot at the beach.
- 1 in 10 women who go into preterm labor have their baby within the next 7 days. That means there is a 10% chance of things devolving into pure chaos in the Hemmings homestead. I have prepared for normal labor. I can deal with normal labor. I will never be mentally ready for preterm labor. Kristen’s cousin’s wife gave birth in the back seat of their car outside a Chinese take-out restaurant, and if that happens to us there will be a viral video of an insane maniac husband screaming and crying and running about with the guttural, primitive intensity of the Hulk getting a parking ticket. There is not enough anxiety medicine in the world for this scenario. (Side note: Kristen’s cousin & wife had a healthy baby, wrapped it in towels from the Chinese restaurant, then followed a police escort to the hospital. Later the husband had to clean the placenta off the backseat. And that’s why you should get a Carfax report.)
We concluded the class with a video of several women in labor, complete with one women actually giving birth. Nameless teacher prepared us to expect the baby to have a little blood on it, so I wasn’t too disturbed until the doctor picked up the placenta and started stretching it like an old polka master jamming out on an accordion. At that point I’d exhausted all facial muscles and brain cells and permitted myself to mentally zone out for the last few minutes of class.
But don’t worry, we have round 2 on Monday. We were told to bring 2 pillows and wear “extremely comfortable clothing.” In other words, I’m 100% expecting a lively pillow fight and absolutely no discussion of mucous plugs or distended uteruses. Fingers crossed.