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Prepping for Childbirth Class

33w2d- Word to the wise: Opt for the childbirth class that’s stretched out over a few weeks. Don’t think you’re being smart and efficient by signing up for the 9 a.m to 4 p.m., one-day class. It’s just too much for one day. Too much.

 The day started out pretty well actually. For the first 3 hours, I kept whispering to Jason, “This isn’t as bad as I thought! I’m actually kind of enjoying this.” We watched a few videos. Listened to two childbirth coaches/doulas/all-around childbirth gurus talk about different topics. Practiced some laboring positions (which meant I got lots of massages!). Watched some more videos. Not so bad. Sure, the videos were graphic and made you question why you didn’t just adopt to spare your body such pain and agony. But the end result was always the same: Everyone in the room cried when they placed the baby on the mother’s chest for the first time.

 But the last few hours? SKIP THEM. You don’t need to know about vacuums, internal thermometers, episiotomies, emergency C-sections or anything else emergency, for that matter. Ignorance is bliss. Plus, after the morning, I hit my threshold of how many hairy vaginas I could see in a day. (Seriously people! I know you can’t see down there anymore, but personal grooming is still important when you’re pregnant!)

Here’s the thing — Picturing my daughter’s birth doesn’t bother me. I know I can handle it, mostly because Jason (and the epidural!) will be there. I'm strong, and I'm excited. But seeing that many other women in that much pain for that much of the day? It’ll change you — just like war. I know childbirth is supposed to be the most natural thing in the world. And it is, for the most part. But for me, it’s not natural to watch other people giving birth with a film crew in the room.

 Childbirth stories are kind of like wisdom teeth stories — they are rarely good, so watching several in a row cooped up in a cold room on a beautiful weekend felt like pure torture. Torture that I had signed up for. If you’re about to get your wisdom teeth out, ignore everyone. “I had two dry sockets, which they say one is worse then a broken jaw. Plus, the doctor perforated my sinus cavity, so now I’ll have terrible sinus problems for the rest of my life.” (That was actually my story. Sorry if you’re just about to get yours removed.) Sure, you’ll find the rare exceptions — “I was back to work the next day. It was a breeze.” But those people usually aren’t the ones shoving their experience down your vulnerable, impressionable throat.

 Same goes with childbirth. I’ve yet to come across a woman who shares that ideal childbirth story with me, and they certainly didn’t show us a video of it either. Seems like everyone wants to tell me how badly they ripped, how much it hurt, how long it took, how humiliating and invasive the process was and how they almost died. But they always end with, “Oh, but I’m sure your experience will be flawless.” Thanks. I feel so warm and fuzzy now that you said that.

 Another frustrating part of the day — One of the childbirth coaches kept preaching about epidurals. Apparently she wants to rid the world of “drugged” childbirths. She has been teaching this class for 21 years, and made sure she reminded us of that every third sentence that came out of her mouth. Look, lady. I came to learn about the basics, not be persuaded into or out of choices that I get to make for myself. I respect your opinion, but give me facts; not opinions. I don’t care if you’ve had 5 kids naturally and lived to see another day. It’s my call, not yours. She also kept asking a room of tired, overwhelmed couples hypothetical questions, one of my pet peeves. We’re not going to answer. Just tell us what you want to tell us.

 On a positive note, our $110 we paid for the class was definitely not completely lost. I do feel much more comfortable about several things, like when to go to the hospital (contractions 5 minutes apart, lasting at least 1 minute, consistently for at least an hour), the difference between a real contraction and Braxton Hicks and what positions are good for you and the baby during labor. I know to eat before I come to the hospital because once you step foot through the doors of triage, you’re eating ice chips for the remainder of your stay. (And eating at that point in labor has nothing to do with whether or not you, well, poop during labor. There. I said it.)

 The best part of the day? The massages were awesome, and the class really put Jason at ease. He said he feels like the hospital childbirth process is much more natural than he had pictured. “Doctors really sit back and let the woman’s body do its thing. They are more hands-off than I expected.” I love him for being so involved and positive.

 I’m glad we took the class. But I’m more glad that it’s over.

 Did you take a childbirth class? What was your experience like?

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