Last night I showed up to my first birth class, my husband poring over the packet promising us steamed salmon and cheesecake as some kind of emotional eating reward for successful (whatever that means…) delivery of our son. My baby is due in November.
Though I have had some serious fears about the pain of delivery, I have to say that there is a wealth of excellent documentaries and books which describe owning the experience, determining what pain management choices might be best, and overall simply remembering that this is a special process between me, my husband and baby. In essence, this is our show. Knowing how many choices we have and arming ourselves with information has helped insulate us from the terror of what is actually about to occur.
So the class begins: The PowerPoint was swift, the fruit plate plentiful (god bless pineapple for pregnant women amirite?), and everything felt excellent until our instructor, a registered nurse with 20+ years experience plus additional certification, starts in on what all of us should expect for our first time in the delivery room.
“You’re all first time moms, right?” she smiles broadly in her pink scrubs. We all nod, looking around at one another for confirmation. “Ok, so you may THINK you’re in labor. But you’re probably not. No, you’re not in labor until you are white knuckling it at my desk. Understand? You should not be able to SPEAK because it will hurt so bad. THEN you are in REAL labor. OK, Mommies?”
I started to feel that pineapple churning. Oh god.
“OK, so what I am passing around now is the dilation license plate. If you look at the circles, they will show you how big you need to get to be ready for baby. See the 10 centimeters? This is where we want you to start pushing.”
Now I am confused. I don’t see what she is talking about. Rather, I see a rectangular plastic tray in her hands, and her acrylic nail pointing to something reminiscent of the outline of a small salad dish.
“So this is how you will KNOW you are in REAL labor, OK Mommies? Don’t come to me and say ‘I think I’m in labor,’ because when you’re in labor you will KNOW for sure.”
It was in that moment I realized what was actually being said to me, and that bastard fear started creeping in and messing with my carefully constructed pre-labor serenity-mind. I stared at the salad plate, my mouth slightly open, shocked.