Monday, March 5, 2012

Birthing - The Less You Know the More You Know

Mrs. Blackwell and I spent eight hours Saturday learning about the birthing process. 

Before your imagination runs wild, I'll just say it's not as fun as it sounds. 

While you were home enjoying a book, or watching an already-intriguing college basketball season heat up, or Toronto actually win a hockey game, Mrs. Blackwell and I sat in a hospital conference room full of expectant couples watching videos and demonstrations that ran from comical to cringe-inducing.

Since she didn't sign off on being on a blog, I'll call the lady who led the proceedings, Nurse Nadine. A friendly, enthusiastic lady and advocate for all things "mom," Nurse Nadine was as enjoyable and informative as she could be.  

Nurse Nadine is a  high-energy type who has done this thousands of times. That sort of pride-free gumption combined with the content we were covering made for some unintentional comic relief throughout the day.

Man Hit in Groin by Football. Still funny after all these years.
"It works on so many levels."
After "man getting hit in groin by football" the next funniest thing on Earth is "middle-aged woman squatting, crouching, twisting and bending to demonstrate birthing exercises."

I laughed accordingly and Mrs. Blackwell did too though I was alone in my immaturity.

Naturally, we arrived nine minutes after Nurse Nadine had begun her opening spiel, leaving us to weasel our way to the only two open seats in the entire room - located, of course, in the very front row. 

After being warmed up by the glares of the couples we squeezed by, the wife and I settled in for the Nurse Nadine show.

Throughout the day she led us through the birthing process and used many props to illustrate her points. My favorite was the bulbous wool cap that served as the uterus. Though the length of velvet that was the umbilical cord was a close second.

Given the realities of the birthing process these soft, cuddly representations were welcome. Like everything else related to babies, birthing is life-affirming, beautiful and completely appalling. The amount of fluid, tearing, bloating, pee and (of course) poop potentially involved is terrifying. 

(If I never hear the word "mucus" and "clot" in the same sentence again, I'll consider this a life lived well.)  

As a guy, you start thinking this way and all you have to do is look at your wife for perspective. She's the one that's going to endure this and she's as cool as a fan, the picture of tranquility.

As we watched a woman (a real live woman!) give birth on video, I glanced around the room. Without exception, the ladies eyes were fixed on the screen learning about what awaited them; they might as well have been in third-period geography.

If ignorance is strength - I'm your guy.
On the other hand, the guys (some of whom were clearly watching this process for the first time) were in various states of squirming denial and crippling terror. As for me, I opted for crippling terror.

But sometime between the forceps demonstration and the C-section video, my terror stabilized and I was able to get a handle on my biggest responsibility during my wife's labor: hold her hand and, no matter the reality around you, tell her everything is totally cool.

Here I'll defer to a line from one of my favorite books, '1984': "War is peace. Freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength."

Ignorance is strength.

You're not scared. You're encouraged. 

She doesn't look like she's in labor, she's beautiful and you'd take her to dinner looking like that.

Those bodily fluids on the floor? Pish, posh darling. 

Ignorance is strength. Amen.


Anonymous said...

You're going to love enlightenment :)

Anonymous said...

I don't know how your mom or I had babies with no training before or after. I guess that is why the first child had it so rough...the second (which would be you) was almost perfect and the third one...well, no fuss...he could have it his way!