Sunday, January 29, 2012

Husband: Labor Up

As Mary Jane mentioned in her last awesome post, we took an eight-hour “Prepared Childbirth” class last weekend. Thanks to our heavily accented instructor, Ho-Yu, we both feel a lot more confident heading into the big day which is now less than two months away. I was able to pick up on about 75% of what Ho-Yu taught us, which is pretty good considering Chinese-infused English is not my first language.

The class was geared pretty evenly toward moms and dads, which was great because I went in there thinking it would be mostly female sex ed. part 2 (I missed part one anyway). That was not the case. We all learned what would happen to the woman’s body, and Ho-Yu taught all the men some stress relief techniques to alleviate the rigors your wife will go through (breathing, massage, positioning, etc.). It was a relatively young group attending, and even though she repeatedly used words like “perineum,” “uterus” and “rectum,” none of the men giggled. Everyone was pretty mature, except for this one guy who kept joking, “Man, this labor thing is gonna be a breeze!” I fully expected Ho-Yu to deliver a swift crane kick to his genitals after the fourth or fifth time, but she instead displayed her Miyagi-like calm and just shot him a dirty look. He quieted down immediately.

What I took away from the class was that as the husband and “labor coach,” I am extremely useful in comforting my wife physically and emotionally. Once labor begins, I’m basically a glorified piece of furniture for half of the labor and a very amateur massage therapist for the other half. MJ can lean on me in a variety of different positions to relieve her back pain, or I can massage her to relieve some of the stress. I’m like something out of Brookstone that gets you pregnant.

MJ couldn't afford the $6,000 price tag on this bad boy, so she had to settle for me.

Most of the class went off without a hitch. We learned about contractions and what they do, drugs and what they do, and husbands and what they shouldn’t do. I’ve obviously never been through labor, nor have I ever had the desire to ask my mother to describe it to me, so hearing about the different stages and what to expect during each one was very helpful for both of us. All of that was extremely helpful, and it alleviated a lot of our (now seen as irrational) fears regarding labor and childbirth.

And then, there was the video. You know how some couples bring a video camera into the delivery room to capture that magical moment when their son or daughter is born? While we certainly won’t be starting off our baby scrapbook that way, I can understand why a new mother and father would want to get the first seconds of their new baby’s life on camera. But I can’t for the life of me figure out why a woman, in her most vulnerable state, would allow THREE CAMERAS to follow her around during the entire labor process, capture the birth of her first child from EVERY ANGLE and then package that footage and distribute it across the entire country so that 25 years later, expectant parents can watch said woman deliver and immediately say, “I don’t want to do this anymore.”

Now streaming on ESPN3: Your womanhood.

There are just some things you can’t unsee. Not that the “miracle of childbirth” isn’t as beautiful as people say it is, but, well…it’s not. At least not when it’s some random woman you’ve never met, who is naked and screaming and looks like she’s about to die. This lady was also kind enough to go back later and record a cheery play-by-play of the entire event, which provided a descriptive soundtrack to the 10-minute long labor montage. I thank the good Lord that the footage was a VHS on a 20-inch TV and not on a Blu-Ray HD flat-screen TV with mega ultra Dolby Surround Sound 3.0.

Before I’m pegged as the “insensitive husband” who doesn’t see the beauty in bringing a new life into the world, I want it to be known that there was a collective groan from the ENTIRE class during that portion, my wife included. I’d also like it to be known that Ho-Yu conveniently left during that segment, probably waiting 10 more seconds after she heard us all say "OHHHHHH" as her cue to return and resume the lesson. And she is a DELIVERY NURSE.

Now on the flipside of that, I have to give the 1985 video woman props for not only pushing out that baby, but for doing it under such circumstances. The first thing that popped into my head when writing this was to use the phrase, “she manned up,” but after seeing the video, that phrase doesn’t seem to apply anymore. There is no way that any man – not even Die-Hard era Bruce Willis – could deliver a full-term infant. From now on, I think we should all adopt the phrase “labor up” wherever “man up” formerly applied.


I’ve known all along that it takes one hell of a tough person to give birth to a child, but actually seeing it gave me newfound respect for my mother, mother-in-law, grandmothers, and every other woman I’ve ever met. I will freely admit that it's not something I could ever do. For any guys reading this who think it's not that bad, try to make it through the video first.

1 comment:

  1. i love this. and i plan to use the term "labor up" as much as possible :)