Growing Pains: Just Keep Breathing In through your nose, out through your mouth.

Expecting_motherLast night, my husband and I attended our first of the five childbirth preparation classes offered by the hospital where I’ll be delivering our baby. I decided to sign us up for several reasons—the main one being that our combined childbirth knowledge boils down to “it will hurt… a lot.” And I liked the idea of being able to ask questions and get answers in real time from an actual human being, rather than wading through the heaps of information on the internet, or reading a book—both of which are fine, but not interactive enough for me as an inexperienced first-time mom.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the class was pleasantly small and intimate with only three other couples in attendance. The nurse—a small, bossy blonde woman—started the night on my “exceptionally unpleasant” list, but, by the end, had graduated to “definitely knows her shit.”

Of course, the hospital made sure that the classroom was stocked with only the most uncomfortable chairs for the very pregnant women in attendance. Luckily, we uncovered some exercise balls in the closet and soon the other moms-to-be and I were happily bobbing along.

Because no class would be complete without it, a fair portion of the 2.5 hours came in the form of a low budget pregnancy video. Think very bad lighting, public domain elevator music and computer graphics that would have wowed back in the 90s. It was hard to tell whether the couples in the video were real, awkward people, or just famished actors who have been out of work for a while due to their very apparent lack of talent. Natasha and Orion were my favorite—if only for Orion’s freshly shaved head with flowy bangs. I was so mesmerized by his hair that I missed everything he said, but I’m sure it was very informative and serious.

After the video, the nurse took over. She talked us through different stages of labor—represented, naturally, by a creepy baby doll stuffed in a rastacap. (The rastacap represents the uterus, obviously.) With a nifty skeletal pelvis on hand, she grinded the doll against the spinal column, and up and down the poor skeleton’s pelvis, over and over again in an attempt to drill the possibility—and agony—of back labor into us.

We closed the class by practicing breathing patterns through a relaxing meditation. It included a chant that was, I think, supposed to instill confidence, but instead only made me doubt any chance I thought I might have had to handle what’s coming: “Labor is a normal, healthy event. Labor is a normal, healthy event. Labor is a normal, healthy event.”

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