So Saturday, we wheeled out the new mega maternity bra for its first outing, and rocked up to day 2 of calmbirth. Not a Rage Against the Machine song in sight.
Day 2 was a little more bearable, a little more realistic. For example, it was all about me. In one of the meditations, hub-in-boots had to give me “light touch massage” up my back, whilst I did the calm breath thing. When I read about this in the book, I thought light touch massage may be a bit like being hassled with a feather duster and I was just as likely to punch someone. But actually, it was good. Hub in boots had to sweep the back of his two hands outward from the base of my spine to my neck in about 50 sweeps. Once he stopped counting it was more relaxing. I just had to do the breathing. Not so bad. He thought it was a bit shit, because for him, not a massage in sight.
Then there was the one where I had to breathe, and he had to watch me and press on my shoulder during the out breath. I felt a little bit like some kind of old school bore water pump.
Then there was the one where you had to think of all the negative images of birth you had stored, and then choose to let go of them. Which is fine, if you really did get them from episodes of ER, not so fine if they are your own lived experiences of bloody trips TO the ER. One part of me thinks it is crazy difficult to develop positive ideas of birth when much of the pregnancy has been scary, ugly and on a hair trigger. Insert Rage Against the Machine track here. Talk to me about confronting .
The other part of me says if we make a third trimester labour we’ll just be hi-fiving each other and be like two people given a royal pardon whilst looking at a firing squad, and will be the most relieved little vegemites the labour ward has ever seen.
The ‘bringing it all together’ meditation was clever. It took you through a visualisation of the whole birth, in 20 minutes. It concentrated on dumb stuff, like seeing your own bathroom, and dealing with early signs of labour there, imagining what you would do. I couldn’t help but notice the mould on the shower curtain.
Luckily, when we got to visualising the kitchen, thinking about what you’d eat, it was really clean and the washing up had been done. And hub-in-boots had not cleaned us out of food. In case you’re wondering, i had baked beans on a grainy english muffin and was contemplating a boiled egg. And imagining when you’d call the midwife, when you’d leave home, all the stages of labour, most of that was pretty chilled and swear word free. I kind of liked this. It was sort of like I had then experienced the good parts of a ‘natural’ birth, even though in reality there will likely be screaming, swearing, crabby midwives, threatened cesareans; and all the carefully written birth plans will end up as placemats in my sashimi platter, champagne and blue cheese supper in recovery.
I’m not sure how hub in boots felt about imagining his uterus contracting . That must have been weird. Or about giving birth to the placenta, especially when I’d threatened on calmbirth day 1 to make a curry out of it, after explaining to him what some cultures did. Yes yes, i know, going too far and you just got a little bit sick. My placenta and I got along fine, thanks for asking . At least in my head. Not a frypan in sight.
One final exercise we did was trying to describe to our partner a special place in nature, to use as visualisation in labour. I couldn’t decide between the great barrier reef and the lake in interlaken, Switzerland. He had to use it later, reciting it back to you after a really deep meditation, leaning over to whisper in your ear. And at this point the whole class just broke up laughing.
One video we watched had a woman who took in a photo of a beach, and visualised the contractions as waves , bringing her baby closer to her. This struck me as quite a lame metaphor, which may result in your child being a welfare bludging surfer in later life. I am also not big on the “universal metaphor” of birthing as “a flower opening”. So I guess I’m going to have to do some work on this. I discussed with hub -in-boots about using a fishing metaphor, but as I’d be reeling in a big trevally or flathead, and he’s only ever caught a yellow tail (and that was a fluke) the whole team effort might be lacking there. Plus there’s the ethical conflict of likening your child arriving to landing a whopper in an estuary that may undermine the spirit of the whole thing.
Visualisation aside, i feel like we can use the tools in some way. It is all still a bit woo hoo for me. I don’t dig whale music. I don’t want a baby that digs whale music. I worked hard to instil some musical taste in my now grown up nieces, and I have no intention letting this child be any different.
So I’ll continue to use the CDs , and practice the breathing. But in the meantime I’ve tried to figure out what I need to be calm. And as a start I’ve booked a mobile hairdresser for tomorrow morning to come to me, since it’s been FOUR MONTHS since I did deep breathing in that particular chair. I now look like a cross bred wookie- yeti. I was hanging off any hair dye til after first trimester when all our troubles struck. Oh god I can’t wait.
To do list: play music to gumby. I’ve been a bit slack. I have hardly listened to any music at all lately, and i haven’t played piano for months. If I keep this up he’ll wind up liking “love song dedications” and anything Ellen degeneres dances to. Must. Be. Remedied.