Tuesday, February 28, 2006

yowling won't help

Listen, my friends, I have to ask you guys to keep little Sam in your thoughts again. He’s in surgery this morning, starting at 7:30EST, and they say the surgery will last 5-6 hours. So, rock it out there, doctors, and go, little Sammy. May it all go so well.


Dave and Morgan and I saw Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story yesterday. It’s...go. Go. Go see it. There’s a part – no. No, I’m not going to say. I’ll just say that there are a couple of parts where Dave and I were laughing so hard and so long, long after everyone else in the audience had stopped laughing, so hard it seemed like we both might give birth on the spot. Weeping, hitting each other. I want to tell you so badly what the funny part was but I don’t want to ruin it for you. And really, the funny part...the whole damn movie is the funny part.

I’ll just tell you that this guy

was responsible for the part where Dave and I were hitting each other.

He played Doctor Slop.



In other fabulous news, I LIKE COFFEE AGAIN!! For seven fucked-up, perplexing months, pregnancy has rendered coffee foul in my nose and mouth. But today I brought Dave a cup of coffee in the bathtub, and I had a sip of it since it smelled good, and it was yummy! So we were at Larry's Market today and went to the Peet's coffee stand and I got a cup of delicious decaf coffee and my favorite coffee girl was there whom I adore and haven't seen since this post. So not only did I get a cup of sweet and creamy coffee, the sweetie-pie girl was there for the big moment and celebrated with me in that charming, groovy way she has. I for sure have a crush on her and I have a crush on goddamned coffee, too.

See you in the morning, my prodigal beverage.


So we have our…which one?…our fourth childbirth class tonight.

In our second class, everyone who sucked in the first class stopped sucking and became pleasant. Also, we supplied the snacks and won everyone over with German chocolate cake and potato salad. Also in the second class, we did this exercise where we pick a number between 0 and 100, representing a pain scale where 0 is none and 100 is the amount of pain you feel right before you pass out. The women were supposed to guess for ourselves what the number would be at the most difficult part of our labor, and the men were guessing for their partners. I guessed 75, Dave guessed 80 for me. Then the teacher led us through this thing where we would imagine that we were in labor, and 50% of the way to that number we’d chosen, and we were supposed to imagine what we’d be doing for ourselves to cope at that point. Then the number went up to 75% of the number we’d picked, same question, and then 96%, and then 110%. At 50% I ventured that I’d be trying to go limp and relax every part of my body. At 75% I thought that I’d be doing the same thing as at 50%, but also seriously praying. At 96% I thought I’d be looking to the midwives for ideas. At 110% I drew a blank, and the idea started getting funny to me. Like, stop it! 100% was all I was considering! Anyway, the point of all this was for us to know that even though none of us had done this before, we have ideas and resources available to us. It was good.

And then she was talking about how during transition (which - if you haven’t given birth or aren’t a crazy pregnant person who’s boning up on the info like her life depended on it - is the point where the cervix is finishing dilating all the way, and the contractions are super strong and right on top of each other) a lot of women think they’re dying.

Yeah, the word “dying” came into it. And I was like SHUTUPDON’TSAYIT. Because that’s been the fear that I haven’t wanted to look at – the fear that I’d die, or be in such a horrible place that I’d think that was what was happening. But then once she hung it out there and we got to sit with it a minute, I was glad it came up. That’s a good fear to look in the face. That’s not something I would want to be surprised with while in the big moment. But it really called that fear right out into the open, and for the next few days I was really sitting in it, and I started losing confidence in my ability to do this.

Which was good! Because then I could deal with that. I got a copy of the book Birthing from Within, which is what her class is based on, and devoured it quickly. Great book! Among other things, it has these art exercises you can do to find out what sort of ideas you’re harboring around pregnancy and birth and parenthood. Art exercises and I are friends. We get along well. I find them fruity-fruity-fruitful*, always. So I drew some pictures about pregnancy, and then drew a picture of my biggest fear for childbirth.

*Oh, no, I'm Ned Flanders.

I’d put it out here for you, but it’s huge and I don’t have a scanner, and if I did, I wouldn’t have that big a scanner. So, I’ll just describe it to you. In the drawing, I’m kneeling on the floor with blood gushing out everywhere, and my sides are jaggedy instead of round, with big scary bands of red circling them. I have a red sort of seeing-stars-Saturn-orbit-I’ve-gone-mad-pain-crown around my head. My body’s surrounded by this black membrane that prevents me from being able to see or hear what anyone in the room is saying to me, and my little pale green soul is leaving my body through my head. I’m dying. The people in the room are drawn vaguely, but they’re crying and calling 911 and rummaging through emergency equipment.

Oof. It was sad, scary and a big release to draw this. Then the next task was to draw this fear being transformed in some way – either how I’d cope if it came to pass, or what could happen to prevent it. I drew myself with the red pain bands, but with no big black membrane. I drew my eyes and ears enormously large, so I’d still be in contact with all the reassuring people in the room, and I drew my hands very large and emphasized, with Dave holding them.

Felt better. And then we had a good visit with one of our midwives, and I talked about my fears with her, and she was fabulous. She said we should bring the drawings in and we can talk about them. (I can’t help but imagine what our old suckball OB/GYN* would have done if I’d brought these fears in or, heavens forfend, mentioned a large crayon drawing I’d done to cope. She would have laughed us out of the room.) She talked about what’s happening for her when the ladies are in transition, and how she could help, and what emergencies could be and how we’d deal with them. She was a fairy fucking princess!

Then last Tuesday we had our third birth class, where we learned that the uterus is a blue striped knit bag with an end like a turtleneck. There was a rag doll baby and a skeleton pelvis, and the rag doll baby came right out of the turtleneck and worked himself through the skeleton pelvis with no problem, just like Finn will do. The whole thing will take like ten minutes. I’m totally not scared anymore. No, though, we learned a lot about what exactly is going down during birth, and what the chemical processes are in the body, and the whole thing was pretty reassuring, actually.

And then at the end of class, the teacher said she’d been thinking about something I’d asked during the first couple of classes. I’d asked how athletic a person needs to be to have a natural childbirth, and I’d alluded to some worry about having enough physical strength for this. So she said that the body is built for this, and you don’t have to be good enough, or an athlete, that women through the ages have given birth naturally and they didn’t eat tofu and do yoga. Even a couch potato can do this. (And lords and ladies, I am all kinds of potato.) I was really touched that she said this, and that she’d been thinking about it, and it made me cry. Something inside really let go and understood that I have it in me to do this. I have a lot going for me to make me a good candidate for natural childbirth. I was very grateful to her.

*If you do see Tristram Shandy, imagine that Dr. Slop is the young, white, 18th century, wasted male version of our old OB/GYN. And don’t for the love of Pete let there be an “if” about you going to see it. Just go. Go.

Wow, who put a goddamn nickel in me?! Such a long post. If you’re still reading, and you’re a woman, I think that you’re a good candidate for natural childbirth. You got endurance.

edit: And if you're a man*, I think that you could easily pass a golf ball through your penis. You're strong!

*Thanks, Adam, for alerting me to the hole in my post.


la Ketch said...

not long enough!! more. more. can't wait to see that film. after reading this i am convinced that you can do this and that i can not. i'm going to adopt a puppy. you are the rockinist. i love it. i just can't wait until it happens and we get to hear about it. i have all sorts of bright and positive feelins about it. love. love.

Adam Szymkowicz said...

what if I'm a man?

Tina Rowley said...

Adam: From the minute I met you, I thought you were a good candidate for natural childbirth. That was my very first thought.

Hil: C'mere and get squeezed, you big Snoopy!

kww said...

I went to birth class number three last night and Denysee Ffrench (yes, Denysee Ffrench is our Bradley instructor--pronounced Denise French) also mentioned that women seriously think they will die during transition. And that this is what transforms women into mothers. The complete letting go of self in the interest of the baby. She kept saying that--keep bringing it back to the baby.

Watie was in Omaha and my sister in law came with me. She was awesome. The only thing she didn't do was the part of the relaxation massage exercise where you massage the bottom. Denysee kept saying, "There's no technique just grab those butt cheeks and twist and rub whatever way feels good to mom." I told Meredith to pass that information along to Watie.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Tina.
I love that you were able to define your feelings with art. What a great way to get it all out there and deal with it!
When my husband and I were in birth classes for our first baby, we didn't even pay attention to the 'C' section part. Guess what? Yep. I ended up having a 'C' section. Our baby was stubborn and her heart was doing crazy things. All I could think, when they were wheeling me into the surgery was 'Why, why, why didn't I pay attention during the 'C' section part of the class?'
Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is, it's good to be prepared for several scenarios. Sometimes they happen despite the best laid plans.
On the other hand, our second baby was born vaginally (V-BAC), so I got to experience that, too.
Keep up the good work. I love reading your posts.

the beige one said...

I'll take a pass on the golf ball thing, thanks.

You go, though! You do the thing with the squeezing and all that. I am most positive you can do it.

Eve said...

I love hearing all of this good news! Good coffee! Great movie! The Coolest and Helpfullest of Childbirth Classes!
And just look at your awesome uterus! It looks so natural out there in a field, in a forest, it just SCREAMS natural childbirth! And you won't even have to deal with teething, because it looks like Finn already has his adult teeth. :0

I agree with la Ketch- your posts can NEVER be too long.

Tina Rowley said...

Katie: That Bradley scene looks good! I bought a copy of The Bradley Method book, and I really like the stance in there. Seems really helpful. Our childbirth teacher said a really similar thing about the dying feeling, and its transformational power. It would be cool to be able to embrace that. Also...butt cheek massage! I'm in favor of it.

Momster: Hey, there! You know what, I'm so glad that you said that about C-sections, because that's exactly what I've been doing - ignoring the idea. And you are officially the fire under my ass to get over myself and go back into all my books and read everything I skipped, and think about it, and make peace with the possibility. Thank you, that's big.

Beige-o: I hesitated about the golf ball shout-out, but I wanted y'all to feel included. Thanks for the vote of confidence!

Eve: Thanks, giant peach! That uterus, though of course mine, is from Tristram Shandy. You just have to go see it.

Callie said...

I just finished my Birthing From Within classes a few weeks ago... do you do the ice-gripping thing each class? If you do, wait till your last class - it's a doozy. But it's all good.

Lucky for me, my husband is an ice climber. &*$#%*# (swearing is my pain-coping mechanism)

Tina Rowley said...


Yep, we do the ice thing. And I've been suspecting that the final exam was going to be quite the ass-clencher - the testimonials on our teacher's website are all like, "OH MAN THAT LAST ICE THING", "I'LL NEVER FORGET THAT ICE" and so on. Oh, lord. Lord. Congratulations on getting through it. When's your due date?

Kris McN said...

For the record, I never ONCE thought that I was dying. So, though some women may, it's not a given.

I do totally agree with momster about the several scenarios part. I know that I get very disappointed when things don't happen like I imagine they will. My way of dealing with this was to never have concrete images about what I thought would happen, only general feelings of, "I'll have all the support I need." or "I have whatever it takes." I was secretly feeling lame about it (all the books I was reading had all these viualization exercises, and I just wouldn't do them) until I admitted it to my midwife when she asked how I saw labor and delivery happening. To my great relief, she said that what I was doing was fine, and whether I imagine it specifically or not, it was going to happen how it was going to happen, and I had everything it took. Phew!

Good thing too, because I never would have imagined it happening the way it did.

Boliath said...

I never thought I was dying either but man did I want to...die that is not think about it. Will definitely go see that film, I love Dylan Moran!

Tina Rowley said...

Kris: Lady, you know I love the evidence stacking up of people who didn't feel like they were dying, and that's a fact. And yeah, I think I want to actively get a little friendly with all different sorts of scenarios. There will be enough of the unknown going on without me sticking my head in the sand beforehand. My policy is to consider as wide a spectrum of experiences as I can, but go into it expecting to be able to handle whatever comes up. My confidence level is really going up.

Boliath: Hello, there! That's exactly what my midwife said when I brought it up with her - that a lot of women wish that they could kick the bucket, more so than feel that they actually are.

Yeah, Dylan Moran! I remembered after the film that I'd seen some of his stand-up and thought he was great. My husband tells me that "Black Books" is some funny shit as well, so I'm going to have to check that out. You're going to love what he's doing in this movie. CLASSIC.

pete. said...

Ah, I can't say much about the chldbirth part, but whaahoo for Tristram Shandy! That was awesome. And, by the way, these
birth class posts are blowing my little boy mind. Thanks for the education.

Callie said...

8 weeks to go... April 25th is my due date.

I do visits to community health unit parent-infant drop-ins to talk to new moms about postnatal fitness. It is a real learning experience to hear all of their great birth stories, instead of the horror stories you hear from other still-pregnant women - for some reason we like to shock each other? I can't figure it out.

Anonymous said...

Oh, well, duh. You already know and love Ina May (and have a midwife! HOORAY! I had midwives too! They are the BEST!!!) and have read the Pam England book too.

You are in great hands!

You might enjoy a comic my husband wrote near the time of the birth of our first child, complete with mama-to-be commentary:


Tina Rowley said...

Hello, Lara: Thanks for the recommendations, anyway! I could just as easily have not known of them. And that comic is delightful. Have you posted about your birth stories anywhere?

Anonymous said...

I haven't, actually. There's a lot less time after they're born. ;) Perhaps I will though. I'll certainly look forward to hearing yours!