Saturday 23 April 2005

Birth babble

At the last midwife appointment I'd mentioned that we'd found the previous prenatal class to be pretty intense, due to the slide show of some births.

Katrina said that she should warn us that in an upcoming class there would be an actual video of one of their home births. She emphasises, as they all do, that they aren't intended to scare, but to inform. Yeah right! Either they are some sort of truly twisted jokers, or their practice has deadened them to the reality of how these things look to first-time mothers-to-be. I think just about everyone was freaked out by the slides; and while they were interesting in some ways, I can't say much was learned from them.

So anyhow, the video we were warned about above was the main event of our previous prenatal class, last Thursday. We steeled ourselves for the worst.

But, well, unexpectedly, the video worked for me. I didn't find it nearly as traumatic as the photos. At the slide show the midwife had said several times that the slides can be misleading because they are moments in time, and you don't see (or hear) the context. It turns out she was very correct in that observation; but unfortunately I (at least) had no context to know what she meant. After seeing the video, I understood. Those frozen moments were pretty fearsome at times; but actually watching it, with audio, as a progression of events (and most of the events don't last long), things seemed to make much more sense, and be much more manageable. With those frozen moments the ignorant imagination can play dark tricks. With the video, reality proves less drastic than one's own mind.

The women in the photos seemed unusual or unnatural in several ways; in the video everything seemed much more natural and "normal".

The video even included a dread episiotomy. Selena was pretty nervous about this. I must say, that even I have found myself feeling woozy at the classes when the topic of perineal tears and episiotomies comes up. Something very unsettling about those concepts in the mind. I was surprised then when the episiotomy came up in the video (the midwife warned us it was coming up, if anyone wanted not to look), it didn't phase me at all. (Granted, you really couldn't see the cut, midwife's hand was partially obstructing the scene the way it was positioned; but previously just talking about it would make me feel a bit dizzy, so you'd think that seeing it performed even behind a hand, with scissor handles behind, would do something... but no, it was okay. It was all in context.) You could hear that the baby's heart rate was way down during the pushes, and not recovering very quickly. Way, way down. The midwife explained to the woman that this was the case and that they needed the baby to be delivered in the next few pushes, seemingly stressed as it was, or the episiotomy was recommended to facilitate the birth.

It all happened very quickly. Timed with the push. Snip. The midwife grabs the baby's head and pulls. The baby is out. The woman is crying: oh my god, oh my god! There's lot of movement. One isn't sure if the woman is reacting from pain, or shock or what. But it soon becomes clear that she's more interested in the baby than anything else that happened. she keeps asking if it's a girl or a boy. No ones looked yet. It's being rubbed with towels, on the mom's tummy. The woman keeps saying "oh my god, oh my god." and then an emotional, "is this real?!" Everyone in the room laughs.

After things settle down, the midwives talk to her about her options of having stitches right away, or if she prefers they wait a while so she can have some time with the baby. There seems to be no urgency. The woman doesn't really seem in much distress at this point one way or the other. The baby is fine.

Fast forwarding to the delivery of the placenta, this also surprisingly didn't gross me out as much as I thought it might. In pictures it's pretty gross! In the video it ended up in a stainless steel bowl. The asked the mother if she wanted to see it. Can't remember her response, but the camera watched as the midwife examined it to make sure it looked okay. And the midwife did pick it out of the bowl and hold it up at one point and comment "this is where the baby came from"... it was pretty interesting looking, actually. I could see why some people eat it.

Really! Yes, I never expected that either.

Anyhow, I'm probably freaking people out by saying such things.

Today we went to the prenatal yoga class that is included with the prenatal classes. It was at a small yoga studio just down the street from the midwives collective office.

It was all right. Not all that exciting. But another experience.

Anyhow... all of the above gave me more confidence that I'd be able to get through the whole birth process all right. Yes, of course, who cares! I'm not the one actually at the center of the event. But, my having more confidence, gives me more confidence that Selena will be okay too. But then i've always had more confidence in her than in myself.

As for the baby, I have no idea what it's thoughts on the situation are.

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