Archive for April, 2008

The Birthing Options Video
April 24, 2008

On Tuesday was the evening of the birthing options video at the ante-natal class.

We chickened out. As I mentioned before, one can be too well-informed. We decided to retain a little ignorance.


+-6 weeks to go
April 18, 2008

Just because the ward has been vacant lately, doesn’t mean that a lot hasn’t been going on. Too much has been going on and it’s just left me too buggered to write any of it down.

I’m inspired to write now because Angie has started with what appears to be the initial labour contractions. Of course, we’re not all that sure. This whole pregnancy experience has been damned confusing for me, and confusing, painful, and uncomfortable for Angie.

There are contractions called Braxton Hicks contractions, and they are like a biological practical joke. According to that link, Braxton Hicks contractions are defined as intermittent, painless contractions. According to Angie, painless is really the opposite of the truth, so a practical joke and a pregnancy lie.

Now the pains are not only in the front, but elsewhere too. Is Angie going into labour? Is it just a joke? Who the hell knows?

We’ve already had a false alarm where we thought the show had, uh, shown.
Yes, there is something called the show. It is a stupid name for a thing. It’s actually called the operculum — also a stupid name. It is a mucous plug that seals the cervix, and since I’m about to go on about mucous for a little, you may want to skip the rest of this paragraph, and the next one. That is, if you are incapable of dealing with the realities of life. It’s not even really all that graphic, you pansy.
And now, back to the mucous!
As contractions begin, the cervix starts to dilute and the mucous plug can fall away. It leaves via the vagina, and it’s a good sign that the baby is seriously on his or her way.

There was a mucous discharge. We thought it was the show. It wasn’t. It was just a mucous discharge. A long, jelly-like, gooey strand of mucous, but not theatrically name “the show.’ After rushing to the hospital, thinking our baby was going to be horribly premature (this was at about 30 weeks), we were told that mucous discharges are very common during pregnancy, and the show is always tinged with some blood, which this discharge had not been.
This message hadn’t come across very clearly in the ante-natal class, although we had become sensitised to looking out for mucous spewing out all over.

The ante-natal class has been quite something. We’ve been overloaded with graphic information about the child-birth process, signs of labour, and caesarian sections, but so far all this extra information has just succeeded in getting us unnecessarily flapped. We are misinterpreting symptoms based on the new information we’ve been given. If we’d received no information at all, we’d probably be less freaked out right now.
It’s difficult to say whether or not the ante-natal class has been advantageous or not at this point. It’s certainly made Angie and me both feel nauseous and dizzy at times, although fortunately neither have us passed out during the class.
Next week we have the video of all the birthing options to experience. I’m excited to have the opportunity to practice that technique my neurologist suggested to avoid blacking-out. Clench stomach muscles, which helps to keep the blood from draining out of one’s brain. He should know because he’s also an aircraft pilot — it’s what he was trained to do if high G-forces threaten to knock him out while flying.
I’ll assume combat pilots also use the technique, and if it works for them, then surely it will work for me in my combat zone.

The person who runs the ante-natal class is a real treat. She has the way of telling you something horrific like detailing the full extent of the pain you will experience during labour, or that you might tear “down there,”  and then following it up with a reassuring ear-to-ear grimace.
“But remember that it’s a good pain because in the end you have a baby.” All the while maintaining that incredibly cheerful disposition

Angie’s response to the “good” pain theory of natural child-birth was outstanding. As the ante-natal class convenor had explained, labour pains slowly increase in intensity and duration, with smaller gaps in between. Although I’m skipping some details here, eventually you give birth and the pain was all good (and gone now) because you have beautiful baby in your arms.
Angie had become very fraught during the lesson, and I hadn’t really understood why. We’re most likely going to have a caesarian section, so I didn’t see why she was responding the way she had been. At least, not until she gave me this analogy:
It’s like saying that someone will take a guy’s testicles, clamp them down and slowly tap them with a hammer, all the time increasing in intensity, with smaller gaps between impacts. Eventually, with his testicles completely mashed, they’ll be amputated.
This should all be considered a good pain because the chance of contracting testicular cancer has been completely eliminated.

I stopped questioning her visceral response to the child birth lesson. It suddenly made a lot of sense.