After ten hours spread over five weeks I'm now ready to be a parent... or so they say, now that Hubby and I have completed antenatal classes. You would think a fabulously decorative framed certificate would be on its way to us, but alas, it is not. I would settle for a 'how to' book though.
On Wednesday night at the final class we viewed the delivery suites (we were meant to look the first night but they were all full) which looked nice and comfy with lots of room to move around in. I'm not entirely sure what I was expecting but I it definitely hadn't thought there would be a mini fridge stocked with lemonade and juice, with tea & coffee making facilities (aka a kettle and a bunch of tea bags, but it sounds so much nicer to say it the other way), a little sink, a TV, phone and mood lighting. It felt more like a hotel room for a romantic getaway – the only giveaway being that the bed had stirrups hiding at the sides – although maybe some people take them on their holidays? Each to their own, I say.
At this point we learned that one of the couples in our group had already been in this room a few days before as the woman had gone in to early labour! She'd spent about twelve hours there, having regular contractions and a hell of a lot of drugs to try to stop them (it worked, she's still pregnant and all is well). On the upside, she got to watch 'Saving Private Ryan' on TV, which she'd always wanted to see.
We also got to try the Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas) that is used by some women to help ease the pain of contractions. The reason they let you try it first is that some people get very nauseous from it and it makes the whole experience much worse. A friend who tried it for the first time on the day of her labour (who now has a gorgeous 6 month old) said she felt drunk and out of control. Not a good thing when you're trying to concentrate to push out a baby. So because I've decided to go down the drug-free for as long as possible path, I figured I'd try it out because if I have to have anything, I'll go for the gas. Of course I was first chosen to try it...
In front of the group of about twenty, I stood with the midwife and got told how I should just hold the mask to my face and breathe in deeply. So I did. It was a very bizarre feeling and the gas hadn't even hit me yet. I felt like I was doing something naughty, something illegal... basically I felt like I was at a party from my uni days until I looked up and saw a room full of heavily pregnant women waiting for me to do something... anything. Three breaths and I was told to sit down. I wanted to giggle but only through embarrassment as all eyes were on me, waiting. I wasn't sure if it was working or not. I felt light headed like I'd had about three glasses of wine... or as I like to call it good tipsy (tipsy enough to relax a bit and have fun, but no hangover in the morning). And then it was gone. Only three other women in the class tried it and we all had the same reaction, none of us feeling sick. Then the men got to have a go... the women had tentatively held the mask and taken small, shallow breathes, but the men? Well they followed the instructions properly and sucked it back as hard as they could – they were here for a good time! Much laughing ensued as helium jokes started being thrown around and the men sat there waiting for a high that was just not going to come. As a bonus, no one threw up. Yay.
If communal drug taking wasn't a good enough high to end on (pun intended), the grand finale of the 'birth video' was about to begin. Hubby asked if he could possibly keep the gas next to him for this bit. I've seen birth videos before and they can range from Hollywood type soft focus to in your face gruesome reality. The video we saw was smack, bang in the middle and quite easy to watch – only a few 'money shots' that made you squirm. At one point I looked around at the faces in the room – the men had expressions “oh... um... ew” while most of the women were very blank! Maybe we were all in shock? Or trying to hide our fear? “That's gonna happen to me?! You've got to be kidding!”
The video ended and then that was it... it was all over. Time to go off an be parents. By ourselves! There were parting words of wisdom from the midwife and the reassurance that we could call at any time to ask for advice. I'm wondering if its hard to set up a permanent connection from my home phone to the midwifery desk? Just in case.