Sunday, December 07, 2003

We sooooo crashed out when we got home last night at 8:30 PM! If it weren't for the fact I had to make Paul get up to have dinner I could have easily kept right on going. I am wiped. But since I'm up for a bit before I lay back down again, and while my day is fresh in my mind...

Today was class #1 for Weekend Lamaze. It went from 9-5 with some 10 min breaks and a 60 min lunch break at noon. It was a lot of review for me until the end but it wasn't bad to review. We covered 4 weeks of material. For Paul a lot of it was first time stuff because he doesn't read quite so much on his own and relies on me to keep him updated with anything interesting happening in my pregnancy instead. He seemed to enjoy it and so did I. Neither one of us wants to be doing this every weekend, but it was a good class. We both could have used more sleep, but the teacher seemed nice and kept us interested. It's the first time Paul and I have ever taken any kind of class together so there was some giggly business, poking, sly comments, note passing and so on. Felt very high school boyfriend-y.

There were 3 other spouse type couples, and 1 mom-daughter couple. So just 10 of us in class. The first thing we had to do was go around the room introducing ourselves. The preggo had to say her name, her doctor, her due date, the gender of the baby, what the worst thing was about pregnancy (nausea and puking!) and what concerns she wanted to address in class (eating with GD). The coach had to say his/her name, what weekend activities the couple usually did, the name of the baby-to-be, what the best part of pregnancy was, why they were in class, and what concerns they wanted to address.

The first chunk of class was a lot of show-and-tell with props. The first was a model pelvis and explaining all the parts. The second was a baby doll and explaining baby skull bones, demonstrating how baby might be sitting in the womb, how baby travels through the pelvis and twists his way down, explaining different stations as baby moves on down, how long it takes for babies to pink up, what Agpar scores measure, etc. Another baby doll came out for comparison to the first baby doll since one had a regular shaped head and the other had a molded, cone-shaped head. Teacher had a whole bag full of props and she went digging for a bulb aspirator thing to show how baby would have his nose and mouth sucked out when just the head was born and a prop infant monitor that attaches to the babies head. This made Paul snicker because she was flinging other baby dolls out of her bag left and right onto the table.

During this part of class I discovered I knew things already without knowing I knew. Like how vaginal birth babies have all the amniotic fluid squeezed out of their lungs as they pass through and how it might dribble out of their mouth and nose during birth hence the bulb to help suck all this gunk out and how ceasarean babies don't get that lung squeeze business and it usually takes them longer to pink up as a result because they have to work more stuff out first.

The next prop was my favorite -- the placenta pillow with a mesh bag attached around it representing the amniotic sac and the umblilical cord dangling down from the center. I don't know why but it looked really cool to me. Paul liked it too because during her lecture Teacher kept popping the cord on and off the baby doll and this amused him. The doll had velcro hands to help hold him in fetal position while she popinted at parts and he had a button for a belly button so she could snap the cord on. All these props could fit together -- baby snapped to cord and into the mesh bag/amniotic sac with the drawstring closed, the whole placenta/bag thing into the uterus model bag, then the whole uterus bag into the pelvis model. So we go through how all these things work and fit together, what it means when your bag of waters breaks and gushes or trickles, and what your placenta/cord choices are at the hospital.

You can have it just tossed out, or you can request to take it home with you, or if you want to look at it all before it's tossed they'll give you gloves and let you handle it and examine it for a while. Paul groaned when he heard that one because he knows I'm going to want to look at it and handle it. I don't necessarily want to bring it home to bury in the yard, but I do want the chance to check it out. It just looks so cool! Esp. that 2 cell-thick amniotic sac part. If we ask our OBs we can arrange to donate cord blood/stem cells so I have to remember to mention that at my Wed. appt. We're probably not going to store it, but there's no point in just tossing it either if it can help someone else. It doesn't cost me anything other than sigining permission slips and possibly a few more blood tests or something to see if I'm a healthy donor but the stab me all the time anyway so why not?

Break time, and then we were back to discuss the uterus model, names of its parts, and what things like "dilation" or "effacement" mean, what a mucus plug does and how it can be lost, etc. I remember Paul murmuring to himself, "Oh, that's where fundal height comes from. Fundus. Ok...." and I must have glanced at him oddly because he whispered "Well, I've seen people measuring your fundal height at appointments and I knew it had to do with how the uterus is growing taller inside with baby in it but I didn't know it's because the top part of the uterus is called a fundus."

Next came stages of labor, how to recognize them, how long each stage typically lasts in first time moms, what baby is doing at each stage, what mom can expect to be feeling, how coach can help, what contractions are trying to do and how to work with them, etc. Then some rules like... when in doubt, check it out...if you have a rupture of memebranes you either call the doc or go to hospital... How many contractions and how far apart before going to hospital if there's been no rupture yet.

We broke up for lunch after that and when we got back, we saw part I of the movie. It was 3 births that were pretty straight forward.

One was a woman with a midwife and no medical interventions. She had her spouse, the midwife, and a doula or nursey person for support. (Later we both commented to each other how even though it looked intense, she seemed to be having the most satisfying birth.) The couple went to a movie through part of early labor and hung out at home for a while doing things like hot showers or massage or walking or whatever. So the first woman saw it coming and had time to try different things. She also tried more positions for labor.

(Paul told me later when we were at lunch that he had a hard time watching her segment not because it was gross or bugging him... but because all these noises she kept making and all these various positions she kept trying reminded him too much of the noises and positions I want during sex. So instead of paying attention to the movie he kept thinking about sex. What a weirdo!)

The second woman was in a hospital to be induced by her OB because of high blood pressure or something, and she had a narcotic to take the edge off pain and that was about it. She had brought her spouse, a doula, and her mom for support. She didn't try as many positions but she did walk the hospital halls and rock in the rocker a lot.

The third woman was caught a bit unawares at her OB appt. when it turned out she was 3 cm dilated and was sent on to hospital. She didn't have time to gather her support people how she wanted, her contractions never came in a regular pattern, she didn't want to try different positions because she hated to be touched or moved, and she eventually wanted an epidural for pain, but the baby was born fine in the end.

Tomorrow we see part II for the complicated births.

After movie time we did the hospital tour in class with maps and things because since 9/11 they do not allow classes to go across the street to tour in person. I'm ok with that -- we'll see part of it when we go in for pre-admission papers and I've already seen quite a bit on the website video clips.

There was an explanation for baby security so people know which baby goes with which parents and the system for getting people moved around. There's the first waiting area with 10 beds for early labor, then there's the birthing rooms for later labor and actual births, then after a while recovering in there you go to your private room. If it's a normal vaginal birth they like to move parents and babies along as a unit but if there's a c-sect or some emergency thing and people have to be separated there's a lot of checking of bands. Baby gets a transponder as well that sets off alarms and locks doors if he's moved beyond the floor limits. This made Paul laugh because it was those department store tag things.

Nobody gets keys -- a nurse has to buzz you in and out of places and I wanted to know what doors are closed at night and what happens if there's a fire. Teacher looked a bit startled when I asked that but even as much as I'm grateful for the extra security measures the idea of being locked up in all these layers during some kind of crisis weirds me out. Teacher explained their evacuation proceedures. This also made Paul grin when she got to the part where the nurses have huge emergency baby aprons they have to wear with all these pouches all around them. Then they can put babies into the pockets and leave the building with them all and once everyone is out sort out the babies by their bands. I felt better after that.

Another break and then on to comfort measures at home, example focus objects, example massage tools, strategies for dealing with relatives, getting to hospital, tips for coaches, etc. Then we learned 2 breathing patterns and masaae techniques for moom and coach to do. We practiced those for a while and then the arm thing was the last bit for the day.

In that exercise Paul sat behind me and had to provide a simulated contraction/pain stimulus. This was his slowly building up to a peak squueze of my arm and then tapering the squeeze off. Teacher would time it and point to parts of a bell curve to show the coaches how hard to be squeezing when. Meanwhile I was supposed to me doing a one-handed belly massage and doing the medium breathing pattern throughout the time interval.

So Teacher calls time, Paul starts applying pressure to my upper left arm and I'm sitting there having a hard time coordinating belly rubbing with my breath count. I'm the only one in the class with asthma so while Teacher will count aloud for everyone else's pattern, I have to count in my head and ignore her counts because my asthma pattern is slightly faster. This was hard to do and in the back of my head I kept thinking things like "Boy, I hope this interval ends soon because he's squeezing my arm kind of hard... is this breathing business really going to help any? Damn, lost count... ok... 2...3..."

Then to illustrate how breathing patterns and such help manage pain by distancing you away from it she made us all do it again only the preggos had to just sit -- no rubbing/breathing stuff. The whole class suddenly started yelling things like "Hey!" or "Ow!" at thier coaches.

Paul told me the first time he was worried about hurting me and decided that when I started fussing that would be as strong as he'd squeeze for the peak part of the simulated contraction but since I never said anything he just kept on going until he was squeezing with ALL his strength and having a hard time keeping it at that level for the whole 60 seconds. (No wonder I have red finger marks on my left arm!) Then the second time when I was just sitting and he had to do the same squeeze he didn't even get the chance to get to peak squeeze because before he even got out of the first 10 sec taper-up bit I pulled away and hit him because it hurt so bad.

We were both pretty amazed at the difference in my tolerance during the two examples.

We got homework assignment (practice the 2 patterns) and homework assignments to practice on for the next few weeks with increasing pain stimulus to help us learn to concentrate. (1 arm squeezed, 2 arms squeezed, 1 arm squeezed and one ice cube in the other hand, ice cubes in both hands but no arm squeezing, etc.)

THEN we went to the hospital to visit with Dad for two hours -- told him all about class and we talked about car shopping some more. It excites him that I'm getting a new car and he's thinking of getting a new van so we're trying to see if we both like something form the same dealership if we can get a bit of a price break since we'd be purchasing 2 vehicles rather than 1. So chatting about when we'll go looking and test driving and stuff. We walked the ward with him for a bit, kept him company through his dinner, had him tell us about this vistors that day (mom and his friend and the friend's spouse), what his doctor said and what he is supposed to be over the next few weeks recovery period, etc.

So. Another very long and involved day. One more tomorrow, and then Monday I'm taking off. No errands, no visiting, no cleaning, no nothing. I just want to have a sleepathon!

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