July 10, 2013 at 9:56 AM ET
It's 4 a.m. I'm up. Not "barely up" or "sort of up" or "slept 8 hours and feel pretty good so I can get out of bed at 4 a.m. up." I'm up up, as in, I saw the following times on my alarm clock: 11:07 p.m., 11:53 p.m., 12:18 a.m., 1:04 a.m., 2:43 a.m., 3:26 a.m., 4:05 a.m.
So I snuck out of the bedroom (although let's face it, when you're seven and a half months pregnant, there's no real "sneaking" going on), made a cup of tea and am now sitting at the kitchen table spilling my sleepless thoughts to this blog.
I had a very interesting night last night: We had our first baby class. (Since Steph and I have such nutty schedules, we realized we couldn't both commit to a few nights of classes, so we decided to have the nurse come to our apartment for a jam-packed, all-encompassing, two-night lesson plan. Last night was lesson one.)
There were four of us: Steph, me, Matt (one my closest friends from college) and his wife, Tricia. Tricia and I are due the same week. In the same hospital. With the same doctor. Good thing I'm not competitive.
Anyway, we sat down, buckled up and began learning about the wonderful world of childbirth.
I was so consumed with the spread we put out for everyone (veggies and dips and chips and cheeses and crackers) that I almost didn't see the wall-sized poster that our nurse held up to kick off the class: the poster of the ginormous uterus with a baby inside. Thank gosh we were informed that the picture was not drawn to scale because for a second I thought my uterus was the size of a small country.
The night went rather smoothly. There were few hiccups, though, and the epidural was one of them. I have a well-established fear of needles, and halfway through the explanation of what's involved in an epidural, I nearly passed out. So I asked about natural childbirth, but I don't exactly have the highest pain threshold. So I asked if there was any way I could have the baby while I was sleeping. Like maybe I could stay up for three straight days before my due date, then finally crash and wake up to the sweet cries of a newborn. The nurse looked at me with confusion on her face (I'm used to that reaction) and moved on. (Mental note: Sarcasm and jokes have their time and place, and a pre-natal class, as I learned, is not one of them.)
We tackled water breaking (apparently it doesn't happen like I remember on “The Cosby Show”), contractions (this is where I thought you start boiling water. This is where that comment was met with laughter. This is where I realized I know nothing about childbirth), bag packing (don't forget snacks ... and underwear ... hard to believe that as you're scrambling to get to the hospital to deliver your first child, snacks and extra undies are your priority), and what to do to help get through contractions before you get to the hospital. This was my favorite part.
We were given an illustrated card with about 15 different contraction positions on it. Obviously, since I've never fully grown up, I found this to be absolutely hilarious. The positions may as well have been inspired by a game of advanced Twister. A leg here ... a hand there ... your arm here ... her arm there ... a deep squat ... a wall push ... leaning over a chair ... sitting on an oversized exercise ball … breathing down on all fours. I mean, by the time you go through all the "contraction-easing" positions, you must forget you were even HAVING contractions. I guess that's the point.
Bottom line: On paper, childbirth sounds like a disaster -- cramping, aching, water breaking, endless hours of labor, needles, waiting, pushing, waiting, pushing, breathing, peeing, pooping, sweating, crowning, and finally delivering. (No spoilers about the placenta, lactation, and the umbilical cord! That's our next lesson).
But off paper -- and this was my grand takeaway from the night -- it's the most beautiful thing we can do. There's no greater gift than bringing a child into the world. Somehow I think it'll be that and that alone that gets me through D-Day ("D" for "delivery").