Most of you know, I keep it real. I gave up a long time ago on “saving face” or “making good.” I don’t go for the brownie points and, often times, I’m in the doghouse. But I’m gonna shoot straight. There’s a few occasions when I’ll “take the high road”…a talent and virtue I get from my brother. Thursday night, when they’re going around the room in our birthing class asking to feel in the blank to “child birth and labor is ______” after watching a video of a butt-naked woman pushing to the high heavens until a baby comes flying out, I’m gonna be real with you.
A couple of guys in our class filled in the blank with “awesome” while their wives, fairly obviously, didn’t think it was too awesome. I think that by answering “awesome,” you’re wanting to paint the picture that you can handle anything. Not only does it not scare you, it excites you. In fact, it’s like Christmas morning to you. It ain’t awesome, man. I opted for something that I believed to be a little more accurate.
CHILD BIRTH AND LABOR IS WEIRD.
I got my freshman education that I never got back in school on the literal ins and outs of child birth all in about a ten minute film.
I braced myself as she walked over to the tv set on the wall and inserted the video tape. I knew this was going to be rough after my run-in with Ricki Lake in a bathtub screaming like an injured chimpanzee with her legs flailing about wildly as she’s sloshing around in the water. Yeah, buckle up, son. This is gonna be a bumpy ride.
The film started out relatively harmlessly. A few groaning women backed by some sort of new age pan flute music. Zamfir kinda takes the edge off. They pan to a woman doing the “labor dance” with her husband (where you dance like you did back in junior high with your midsections far apart and hands high up the back…they don’t dance like that no more) and another woman squatting and rolling around on a big ol’ exercise ball. Still, some nice floaty music in the background to keep all of the husbands relaxed.
There’s interviews, more pan flute and the groans increase slightly. And some of the clothing starts to disappear. I remember it started to descend quickly when I saw a pant-less (and panty-less) woman on a hospital bed roll from her stomach over to her side. I’m thinking that, at this point, I’m treading into dangerous territory. I’m not really a fan of looking at any other woman but my lovely wife. That might make me prude, but I don’t care. There’s a discomfort when looking at another woman naked and, yeah, even more so when it’s in the National-Geographic-naked-native sense. This is the kinda nudity that’s a little more that with some blood, a little science fiction and Aliens in for effect.
Then, the filmmaker turned the vices a little tighter and col’ took it to the house with no foul. Where’s Kendrick Perkins when you need him? It seemed like it only took about two minutes and I’m staring straight into a woman with her ankles in two different Texas Panhandle county seats screaming like she got shot and a little cheesy baby getting wedged somewhere between “this is cozy” and “get me the hell outta here!”
It was freakin’ weird, man. I hear a slight snicker from behind me…another guy, of course. I hear him getting put in place by his significantly pregnant other. “Don’t laugh. Don’t laugh.”
Then, the weirdest part that will scar me for years. I mean, somethings you want to stay with you. Like listening to Abbey Road the first time with my Uncle Phil. Or the time I came down the face at Taos with my brother. I like those memories. This is one that’ll be a permanent scar on my psyche until my dying day.
The woman is mid-push. Somewhere between Paul Pierce walking off a hard foul…
and a Paul Pierce flail.
**as a sidenote, I’d like to thank Paul Pierce “Born Winner” (yes, I put his nickname after his full name as opposed to sandwiched in between his first and last name) for signing for one last run at a title…the league doesn’t want you as much as the Celtics do…good decision.
Anyhow, woman is mid-push and the baby’s cheesy head is about halfway out of the woman and she looks down to see the head coming out of her and she reaches down between her legs with her hand and pets the baby’s head that’s just chillin’ down there. It was incredibly odd. I became paralyzed from the waist down. I covered my mouth for fear that I was about to either say something untimely or become ill.
Add to it that this woman was butt-naked. Like is it seriously necessary to lose all clothing? Would it be possible to grab a towel and just drape it over her? Maybe this woman knew it was show time and the cameras were rolling. She’s just a performer. Either way, it gotta gasp out of my lovely wife. “No way I’m going butt naked.” Yeah, no way I’m letting you. Anyway, so this woman’s butt naked pushing, breathing, yelling, grunting. I’m thinking, at this point, I’m either about to pass out or throw up. Educational? Yes. Experiential? Most definitely. I felt like I was right there ready to catch a baby in the belly like the time I was playing in an office-wide flag football game and got tattooed by a pass from my VP right smack in the hairy bagel.
I managed to, somewhere during the course of the film, write down a few notes so that I could go back later (or now) as I came out of my daze and recall what was discussed. I just spent about five minutes reading about fifteen words that look to be scribbled by a blind three year-old. After a closer look of the hieroglyph with my decoder ring I determined that the words were this:
“mucous plug, ‘in your face’ and placenta inspector”
Odd that words which really mean something didn’t make it down in my book like, uh, I dunno: “effacement,” “crowning,” “dilating,” or “cervix.” Perhaps words like “transition” or “contractions,” “rectal pressure” or “perineum” would’ve been good notes to take down in a birthing class, but instead I wrote down “placenta inspector.” Yeah, I had a hard time in school.
I wrote down “mucous plug” simply because I was fascinated by the grotesque notion that something called a “mucous plug” just comes slipping out when the baby’s knocking at the door. It was described to be much like a loogie (first time I’ve ever tried to spell the word “loogie”) that is dislodged and just comes falling out of the woman. I wanted to do a Google image search so I would know what I was looking for. After searching, I lost my appetite for at least the next week. Don’t make the same mistake I did.
I wrote down “in your face” because there was a coaching method described in the film by which the husband puts his forehead against the forehead of his lovely wife and coaches her like Bob Knight col’ headbuttin’ a kid. Thought this to be particularly American. Think if I got in my lovely wife’s face while she was in labor, she’d probably plant her shin directly into my crotchal region, rendering me useless.
I wrote “placenta inspector” because, while describing the third stage of labor where the woman passes the placenta (easily the hardest part to watch), a doctor took it to a tray like a skirt steak and began inspecting it to make sure that all of the placenta had exited. I thought that if I ever think for one second that my job sucks, think about the man that inspects placentae as they exit the woman to make sure there’s nothing left up in there. Good Lord, that’s a horrible gig.
I really am learning a ton in these classes even though my notebook doesn’t really reflect it. I don’t recall any other men writing down notes during the class though. Figure that puts me slightly ahead of the other guys in the room. Of course, I’m writing words like “mucous plug,” but they don’t have to know that.
Thinking that my lovely and I need to work on her “push face.” There’s very little that’s cute about when the woman is pushing. In fact, it’s a bit frightening. Remember, while some people might think that child birth and labor is “awesome,” it’s undeniably a little weird too. Be good to your neighbor and your friendly neighborhood placenta inspector. Dude works hard for his money.