Good morning little one. Your mother and I spent our weekend in a large, cold conference room at the hospital with a trio of other expectant couples and a very nice doula talking about you. The object was to learn about policies and procedures at the facility and to get all us parents-to-be prepared for what’s coming. What this actually translated to was a series of talking points outlined with Xeroxed handouts and punctuated with unintentionally hilarious videos produced in 1983. They starred awkward couples with feathered hair, going through the stages of natural childbirth. The first couple was pretty relaxed even though it looked like they were late to a Journey concert, and when the baby finally did appear we were all relieved to not be staring at the husband’s bald spot anymore. The second segment made an example of how expectant mothers often need something to focus on while laboring: the husband said soothing words, massaged her back, and then held up a photograph of a cat. I don’t know how your mother is going to handle labor, but I’m pretty sure staring at a picture of our cat would make her feel rather foolish. I think some pictures of the things she’s not been allowed to have might provide more of a focusing effect, like a plate of sushi or a vodka tonic. GET THIS BABY OUT, MOMMY WANTS A DRINK.

We talked about medication and procedures and choices and outcomes, and the one thing that struck me about some of the other women was that they knew less about what was coming than I did. It’s not their fault, really; we live in a society that separates the realities of birth and death from everyday life, which is really backwards: none of the four women in the class had seen a live birth, something our ancestors’ women were guaranteed at an early age. I got the feeling, based on comments made by the doula, that some women view inducement as a procedure no more troublesome than a routine dentist’s appointment. A few of the women seemed to have limited knowledge about C-sections, and during the video when they yanked the uterus out of the woman’s stomach and flopped it around like a gutted fish to examine it, it wasn’t just us guys who looked queasy. Had that been my wife and I was in the room, it would take three nurses and 150 cc’s of strong horse tranquilizer to keep me from pulling that surgeon’s testicles directly over his head for a quick “exam”. I think a strong case for natural childbirth can be made solely on the bedside manner of surgeons vs. obstetricians: the surgeon in the video was pulling on the baby’s body to get the head out of the incision like a plumber working over a clogged drain.

I did learn a lot from the classes, though, and it was very helpful to see the birthing rooms (very swank, with a commanding view of the city), the recovery rooms (not as swank, but they’ll do) and the rest of the hospital. From what it sounds like now, many of the hospital policies are in line with our wishes—the “bed” can be moved to provide a natural birthing position; the mother can move around as much as possible before delivery; and baby stays with mother in both the birthing and recovery rooms. They’ll even do the exam in the room after delivery, which is what we’re going to request.

Let me say for the record that I am constantly amazed and awed by the strength and poise your mother has shown over the last six months. Your mother is the quarterback, offensive line, and coach all in one, but I’m just the water-carrier. I’ve been remiss in my duties as father-to-be and birthing coach lately, but I plan to make up for that in the coming months. Today you’re going to get poked a bit by the OB, and we’re going to have a serious discussion about the birthing plan, which is still under development, but we have a much better handle on what we’d like and what we don’t like.

Finally, we’re thrilled you like collard greens as much as we do, because the amount of leafy vegetables we’re getting from the organic farm is pretty ridiculous. Keep that appetite up, kid.

Date posted: June 17, 2008 | Filed under finn | Comments Off on Dear Rutabega.

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