Last night was our first Lamaze session at the New York Methodist Hospital. According to the dictionary Lamaze is:
â€˜a method of natural childbirth by which a woman is physically and psychologically prepared through prenatal training.â€™
Before last night I had been doing a fine job evading all thoughts of my impending fatherhood. Thanks to a few brutal images and a bit of no-nonsense talk from a spirited Brooklyn nurse I am now panic stricken. If this is the purpose of the class they did a fine job on us. Heidi had her first nightmares last night.
A catalogue of potential cataclysms we werenâ€™t aware of:
1. At some point days before birth the fleshy plug that keeps Billy in place will fall out. She described it as the size of 5 quarters in a pile. (I have requested we sleep in separate rooms from now on.)
2. Babies come out at a right angle, so they hit the pubic bone and become lodged. The evolution of humans was a series of patch-up-jobs all enhancing small aspects of our bodies. There was no original design for our physiology, no team looking into the best and most painless way our bodies could function. All that matters to the evolutionary process is that we survive to have kids; efficiency never got a look in. Had Ferrari designed humans, babies would have come out closer to the anus, the most direct route. Instead you have to force them through a U-Bend causing major trauma to both yourself and your kid.
3. Just as we all have belly buttons, babies have an anus button. If this becomes dislodged before birth the baby can defecate in the amniotic fluid. We were asked to remember the acronym TACO. When/if the waters break we have to remember the following – Time Amount Color and Odor. If you are following closely you may be able to guess why you need to know the C and the O. If the water is stinky and a bit brown, the babyâ€™s bottom button has burst and it has crapped itself. This is bad as it starts breathing its own â€œstoolâ€. I feel nauseous writing this down. To comfort us she added that, â€œwe neednâ€™t worry, as this happens all the time!â€
4. Agony. Heidi will have to endure 7 hours of discomfort followed by 3-5 hours of real pain, closely followed by 2 hours of pure agony as her uterus contracts and spasms like high tensile steel under pressure. This was illustrated on an orange graph with violently jagged spikes. After this she feels the same pain but also has to push. For 2 more hours. Then the really icky stuff begins. As her â€œcoachâ€ I am encouraged to massage the area between her vagina and anus to help stop tearing. Iâ€™m sure you can imagine how I looked at the nurse when she suggested this. I am staying in the vicinity of Heidiâ€™s head throughout â€“ balls to Lamaze.
5. This isnâ€™t even the end; she then has to deliver the placenta. Once it is out they inspect it for missing chunks. If it isnâ€™t whole that means some is still clinging to the walls of the womb and the uterus will continue to contract. This in turn causes hemorrhaging and if untreated, death. She would have to have an operation there and then to scrape out the rest.
After we learned all these delightful facts we were treated to some relaxation exercises. There were 11 people in the room: 6 moms and 5 â€œcoachesâ€. We were asked to think of a place where we felt totally relaxedâ€¦ clench fistsâ€¦ breath deeplyâ€¦ etcâ€¦ etcâ€¦
The â€œcoachesâ€ who were husbands, boyfriends and friends joined in! I was sat alone, encircled by their clumsy heaves and sighs. After 12 minutes I still hadnâ€™t thought of a place where Iâ€™d ever felt totally relaxed. There is literally nowhereâ€”unless youâ€™re allowed to take morphine whilst youâ€™re there.
We have 3 more 2-hour sessions of this. God help us.