Thursday, January 22, 2009

Claire goes to school & I talk birth

Today we visited Ms. Ashker's psychology classes. They're studying human development and asked if Claire could visit. What fun. I (of course) forgot to take my camera but one of the students videotaped and I should be getting a dvd of one class visit.

Claire was content, fell asleep, didn't mind getting passed around. The students asked some good questions and I learned a few things too. For example, now I'll be watching for Claire's reactions to smells. The students wanted to see a few reflex reactions but much of the visit was talking about my relationship with her, her growth, and my pregnancy. Both classes asked about postpartum depression and we talked about wild hormones. I know most of the students, seniors, because I teach them in my American literature class but I didn't feel awkward about addressing personal issues. One class asked about the birth.

You know, I've talked with some people about my birth experience and feel strongly that women need to hear stories of strength, not fear. And women need to hear a range of stories of strength too, so that they aren't limited in their hopes or their expectations of birth. Some labors are long and arduous, others short and surprising. Some end with an emergency cesarean and others end with a baby delivered in the backseat. I think there's great value to telling these stories.

My birth experience was very good, despite an impatient doctor and an episiotomy. My doctor, used to planned cesareans (the cesarean rate is insanely high here) or epidurals, admitted that I was only the second woman he had seen give birth without any pain medication. So I talked with the class about my mindset heading into labor, viewing the birth process as natural and simply allowing my body to do what it needed to do, not fighting my body, trying to keep my body relaxed. I didn't think of contractions as pain, but as strong sensations. (I know that sounds loopy). We talked about the power of our minds and I mentioned the natural pain relief of endorphins. And even though some people balk at this, my birth experience was not painful. It wasn't easy either and I was deep inside myself to keep focus. I rarely opened my eyes. I was in labor for about eight hours and did lose a great deal of blood which made recovery seem more difficult than actually giving birth.

Claire meanwhile laid on a blanket on my yoga mat, snoozing and sucking her thumb. And the questions kept coming: Does she sleep through the night? Did Justin gain "sympathy weight"? Could you be a single mom? Do you have a mobile over her crib? And what's your best parenting advice? Oh, boy. I've been a mama for almost four months. Can I give advice yet? Be calm, I said.

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