As I'm inching ever closer to seven months pregnant, the entire experience is getting more and more real.
The work on his nursery, which is still empty of furniture, is nearly complete. Gifts for him have been trickling in. He bounces around in my belly as though my innards are his own personal trampoline. HE IS IN THERE AND IT IS GETTING CLOSER AND CLOSER TO THE TIME HE IS NOT IN THERE. And instead, he'll be here. On this side.
Oh my god.
Which means childbirth.
I am not afraid of childbirth, necessarily, I am just... wary.
I have a pretty high pain tolerance, which I credit to the excessive running adventures and pain I've put my body through in the process, but that doesn't mean I enjoy pain. I am squeamish. So many things can happen during childbirth. Or not happen. I know that a several-pound being with arms and legs and opinions needs to exit my womb, most likely through the place we all joke about because, ha ha, the watermelon needs to squeeze through a keyhole.
So yes that sounds uncomfortable as hell. And yes there are drugs, but that doesn't mean I won't know what's going on down there and KNOWLEDGE IS POWER... ful. Like, I won't feel my pelvis ripping apart, but I'll know it's happening, okay? I have a very active imagination.
But I'm mostly certain I'll be okay.
That said, Todd and I started our four-week childbirth preparation classes last night. And yes, internet, I am fully aware, thank you, that nothing can prepare you for childbirth.
Nothing. NOTHING! NO THINGS! Doom! WHY BOTHER?
Okay so I get that there is well-meaning "nothing can prepare you for childbirth" and there is "NOTHING can prepare you for childbirth." One's like, "You've got this, kiddo. Even if you don't feel ready, you'll be just fine." The other's all, "Whatever, don't even waste your time trying to figure it out, amateur."
ONE IS HELPFUL, ONE IS NOT.
The latest topic up for scrutiny: childbirth preparation classes. There really is no thing not under a microscope during pregnancy, is there? This is a blessed time. Truly.
People who've birthed children: Look at you! Good job! I'm giving you a big, giant gold star! You did it all by yourself! Like the first woman to ever do the thing! I bet you didn't even need to know a thing about it!
Good for you. No, really. I do applaud you. That's some shit.
I, however, am not you. My brain is hardwired to learn as much as I can about an experience -- any experience -- before I undertake it. When my doctor told me to check out the class offerings and sign up, I did it. Because you know who has been with me throughout this entire experience so far? My doctor.
I'm even signed up for a breastfeeding course, if you can believe it. Turns out I don't know how to do that, either.
I expected the childbirth class to be a bore last night. I expected an outdated learning experience with graphic visuals and bad eighties hair. I expected our teacher to be dry and humorless. I expected awkward encounters with strangers and to leave feeling horrified of what's to come. I expected cliches and unwanted advice, pressure and unwanted opinions.
None of those things happened. I enjoyed it.
I like learning about things that are happening to me. My body. No, I didn't learn how to have a baby. I am not "prepared" to have a baby tomorrow. But I was fascinated by the science of what's been going on inside my body for seven months. I loved learning how my body actually is made to do this. How it transforms and prepares for the inevitable day.
I can now visualize what's actually going on inside there, where baby is just hanging out, doing his thing. I feel more connected to the experience. It's hard for me to feel connected to something I don't entirely understand. And you've got to feel connected to your pregnancy. How else do you get through it?
There are still three more classes -- and nine more hours -- to go, but after just one, my mind feels a little more at ease. Is that not preparation? Is that not helpful?
Most importantly, I got to share the learning experience with Todd. Pregnancy is a tough one. It's isolating, I think, for both parents. It's certainly felt isolating for me at times. Many times. A lot of times. But finally, as the weeks come to an end, we get to experience the scary and unknown and physical stuff together. He gets to be my partner. It helps me to know he's learning alongside me, even if it's stuff he already knows. We can now know it together and I no longer feel alone in this process. He'll be there on delivery day and he'll have been alongside for the learning journey. That's so helpful to me.
Childbirth is mental and physical, and these classes are helping me mentally. It's up to my body to handle the physical when the day comes. My body's done a lot in its 35 years. I'm pretty confident in it. My mind could use some work.
Some preparation, if you will.
Because, if you haven't noticed, I've never done this before.
So "prepare" for childbirth however you want, even if that means not preparing. Prepare your body, prepare your mind, prepare your house, prepare your bank account, prepare whatever you want.
I have to do this one way or another, so I'm going to take any opportunity I can to understand it. That's how I prepare.
I will prepare my lungs for screaming later. My cervix, however, is screwed. Because our teacher passed around a dilation chart last night and 10 centimeters is GIGANTIC, okay? There is no way to prepare for that other than to apologize to my uterus and hope for the best.