Hee Hee, Ho Ho

March 26th, 2012 § Leave a Comment

We did what responsible, expectant parents do. We signed up for Lamaze class. Nothing makes you feel more clueless than entering into the whole parenthood process. It’s all new, and it’s all so important. There’s this great scene in Raising Arizona in which … well, you can see it for yourself.

Do you see HI (Nicholas Cage’s character)? Do you see how dazed, out of sorts he looks? Do you see Ed’s (Holly Hunter) panic and guilt? Those are feelings with which you grow familiar in those early stages of parenthood. I walked into Lamaze class with some of those feelings, wearing an uncertain, docile grin. There was an assertive, heavy boned nurse lady or at least I assume she was a nurse, and there was no mistaking – she was running the show. Words like “uterus” and “vaginal” this or that were being thrown around, and we were on the floor, holding, rubbing … man, I was out of my element. Looking around at the other dads; none of us looked right.

My wife did not have your typical labor experience. They had to break her water, and hop her up on Pitocin before the real labor kicked in. When it did, I was ready. The weeks of Lamaze training summoned to the forefront of my mind. I stood in an athletic position, bedside. Made eye contact. Hee, Hee, Ho..Ho…Wheeeeeew. Hee, Hee, Ho..Ho…Wheeeeeeew. I “Ho, Ho’d” and “Hee, Hee’d” for hours. Eight hours into an unrelentingly steady contraction regiment and my wife was 1 cm dilated. “One centimeter! How can that be?”

Seeing us deflated, the nurse asked my wife if she’d be interested in some drugs. I jumped in and told her that we were not, and that we were really interested in trying to do this naturally. That’s when the nurse looked at me with a look that said, “Um, are you the one about to push an 8 lbs baby into the world from between your legs?” She composed herself, and appealed for me to defer to my wife. It was the most sensible appeal I’d ever heard. Then she proceeded to help us understand that my wife would not be choosing something “lesser” by getting some badly needed help.

Even Lamaze has an agenda. It’s not a bad agenda: “Natural is better.” Some truth there. And it can be helpful, so long as it’s left in its proper place. But like many other things, it can spawn a strange achievement, class struggle. The Natural and the Drugged. It can put unnecessary pressure on a mother doing something unbelievably heroic – drugs or no drugs. If I could, I would tell my younger self, “Don’t add to the pressure she may have already heaped on herself.” With our second and third, we were ready to order straight away.

“Yes, thanks. She’d like to start with some of those great narcotic stuff we had last time we were here. And then, of course, she’ll have the epidural. Can we have them come out together?”
“No, I don’t think she’s quite ready yet for the epidural.”
“Oh, okay, yeah, that’s fine. Then just bring out the other stuff, and we’ll go with the epidural later. Thanks.”

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