We're a little over five weeks away from Kathy's due date, and Friday and Saturday we did "The Berthing Class." I hadn't realized that someone could assemble a 10-hour class on how to stow your baby on a ship, but it seems that everything about expecting your first child is focused on preparing yourself for that for which you can't prepare. Let's face it -- when someone tells me, "You're whole life is going to change," all I can do is say, "Yes, I know that (and try to avoid any snippiness in that response), but I don't know what that means." Still, there are classes out there on everything -- seriously, the instructor over the weekend told us that they were going to be offering a class on Infants and Pets.
On Friday night, we only covered a few things, most notably a couple of birth videos. After the last video, right before class finished up, the instructor informed us that the video was several years old, and that the loving and caring environment surrounding the mothers-to-be doesn't really exist anymore. The nurse won't be there the whole time, though she'll still check in with the Mom every half hour or so. And don't expect the doctor in much at all. So you need all the support you can get, and did I mention we offer doula services? She wasn't quite that direct, but the men in the class all could see that connection drawn pretty clearly (the women, being bathed in pregnancy hormone stew, were still all teary from watching the births and refused to acknowledge even the slightest link). For those of you who haven't dealt with the whole pregnancy thing in a few years, doulas are all the rage -- a doula is a non-medical person you hire to be there with you throughout the labor process (even before you get to the hospital), who is there for support, advice, and calmness when the nervous father-to-be is a bucket of jelly.
So on the way out to the car, Kathy was rather distressed. Her sister is planning to come down and be with us, serving as an unofficial doula, but it wasn't clear that she'd be down at the right time, or that she'd even get down here in time. Her doctor has sort of bailed on her (the doc is a high-risk pregnancy specialist, and we don't know if Kathy not having any problems is the reason why, but the fact is that she has no appointments available until the week before Kathy's due date). And if the nurse won't be there the whole time, then there's only me, and what if I become a bucket of jelly.
"Kathy my love," I do my best to explain, "I will be there, focused 100% on you -- it's all about you, and I promise not to be all queasy in the corner while you're having contractions that make Joe Theismann's broken leg seem like a mosquito bite. Until you're at the delivery stage, there's no blood or gore, so even if I'm susceptible to faintness then, you'll have the nurse and doctor with you for that final stretch. So you see, you'll have someone looking out for you the whole time. I even promise to pee in between contractions."
Somehow this bit of spontaneous logic got through the haze caused by the instructor showing those damned birthing videos before she covered pain management techniques (I still think that was deliberate).
One of the things covered on Saturday was the fact that more women than ever before are having babies early. And the three factors that seem to contribute to the likelihood of an early delivery is age (35+), whether IVF was used, and if you have a short cycle. Kathy fits all three, plus her mother delivered her six weeks early (though admittedly we have no idea if there's a genetic tie to this). But just in case that's not enough, we've determined that based on the descriptions provided in the rest of the class (confirmed by the instructor), Kathy has gone through lightening, i.e., the baby's head has dropped into the pelvis. That's not a sure sign of anything, but it makes it likely that the birth is only 2-3 weeks away.
On one level, that's fine by me -- I'd much rather an early (but not too early) birth than a late one. On another, however, it makes the reality of the situation that much more palpable -- the imminence is a bit daunting. We have lots scheduled in the next few weeks, and I guess we won't be able to do it all. At last night's DC United game (which United won), I couldn't help but think that I was saying goodbye instead of good night to my friends at evening's end -- the next home game is in two weeks, and by then I may have had to call it a season. Not that I'm complaining!