If you’ve not read part one of our Newbies Antenatal posts, jump over here and check out our take on the first half of this wonderful experience. Today, we headed to the Countess of Chester for the final half of our antenatal class, before we were set out on our own to deal with the impending arrival on our own.
Getting there was already more of an ordeal than it should have been. Trundle to the car on a bright sunny morning to find that some really considerate and thoughtful (to be read “absolute idiot”) had parked her car directly in the exit of our car park. In full view of the eight or nine spare spaces she could have parked in, but nope… there was just fine. Our car horn was used more in the next ten minutes than I think it’s ever been used in the 18 months we’ve owned the car, and still… nothing. Wes got out finding the handbrake was firmly applied and we weren’t going to be able to shift it ourselves.
We were stuck in our own car park. Stuck and late. Brilliant.
Eventually, she walked back to her car and reversed it so we could leave. Then she parked right back in her original spot. I kid you not.
So, not in any way fashionable, we finally got there in the middle of the talk about what to pack for the hospital. In a nutshell, it consisted of three bags (one for me, one for Wes and one for baby Mason), a birthing ball in the back seat and the car seat ready fixed and prepared. THREE BAGS! The lady spewed words like disposable knickers to make me realise I had severely underestimated the amount of stuff I was going to need. We hurriedly made a mental note to buy some things that we hadn’t even considered (maternity pads, a pillow from home, a nice fluffy towel were ones we hadn’t really thought about) and moved on to the good stuff.
The hardcore drugs of the labour ward.
It started off tame. Paracetamol, TENS machines, gas and air… cool, fine. I can deal with those. I can’t have a TENS machine in a water pool anyway so that’s out (I also think they’re a bit of a placebo, but that’s a completely uninformed opinion as I’ve never tried one… I have one of those Slendertone things for your belly though, that’s basically the same right?). We quickly moved on to the biggies. Diamorphine and epidurals.
One guy who was listening to the details of the diamorphine option was distinctly worried about his baby emerging from his girlfriend’s womb as a heroin addict and whether his girlfriend would have any withdrawal symptoms. Personally I was more concerned that some women have been known to actually hallucinate because of the drug. I had morphine whilst I was in hospital with my appendicitis. It wasn’t fun. It basically knocked me out and I know that’s not what I want for my birthing experience. This was confirmed when the teacher confirmed that whilst she had a great time (her words) on morphine for one of her births, she didn’t remember parts of it.
I want to remember everything. Good and bad.
Then the epidural. Wes was handed a tiny tube and tentatively asked by the teacher what he knew about epidurals. To her surprise (and the surprise of everyone else in there except me) he told the group what it was, where it was inserted and how, with his research coming to fruition once again. An audible gag came from my direction before he’d even finished and everyone shot a gaze in my direction, including Wes who was grinning in delight at the audible torture he knew damn well he was putting me through.
I quickly explained my crippling fear of needles and the fact that the epidural was my second worst nightmare, only being beaten by the idea of a caesarean (which requires an epidural anyway!). Did it stop the woman passing the tube around the room explaining how much of it goes into your spine? How some women suffer a loss of actual spinal fluid after having an epidural? How it makes you so numb between the boobs and bum that you can’t even feel the pushing? No, no it did not.
Ladies and gentlemen, I was open to the idea of an epidural if it was desperately needed whilst I was in labour. Like if it was really horrendous. I am no longer open to this idea and Wes is under strict instruction to remind me of the horrific details of this procedure if I even consider it in that room.
Yes, I am a wuss. Yes, I know an epidural helps. No, I don’t care. It’s gross.
And yes, I’m aware that view will probably change COMPLETELY when labour actually, you know, happens. I’ve made my bed now though and I have to lie in it… or swim in it if I get the water birth I want.
So after nearly vomiting at the thought of an epidural we were presented with a baby for the baby care section of the course. A baby that even the teacher referred to as ‘Michael McIntyre’s lovechild’ due to the full head of jet black floppy hair it was sporting and the slightly oriental look to its face and we were instructed to change their nappy.
Easy right? Well, sort of.
I’d like to clarify that this doll we were given was in no way representative of the size of a normal newborn. It was maybe half the size of what our little man will be when he’s born and a hell of a lot squishier. So trying to put a size one newborn nappy on this thing was comical at best. It engulfed the poor thing as we struggled to wrap it around their tiny waist and put the clothes back on like the competent adults we know we are.
It looked awful and I felt a little bit like a failure… must try harder, I heard my teachers echo in my head. We were also taught how to put a baby in a moses basket or carrycot and it turned out we were doing that all wrong too. I had no idea that you put the baby’s feet at the bottom of the basket to stop him wriggling. I couldn’t really wrap my head around a wriggly baby being unable to move upwards, but apparently this is the accepted safe way of placing a baby in a carrycot. Turns out I’m completely useless at baby things.
Same was done for a baby sleeping bag, which we don’t yet own and don’t think we’ll purchase, and a car seat. We at least have the car seat sussed now, and basically were told “strap him in as tight as you think you should, then tighten it about a centimetre more, to be sure”.
Okay lady, if those are the rules!
I’ve compressed the three hour session into the interesting(ish) parts, but a lot of it was interspersed with common sense. She did a brief bit about breast feeding (complete with knitted boob) and how to hold a baby’s head and things but in my head that was part common sense and part of what the infant feeding nurse will go through with me.
Common sense to me is making sure your baby can breathe past your boob and that you hold a baby’s head up to support their neck. I learned that when I was six and my younger sister was born, but they went through it anyway to be thorough. I appreciate that they have to do that, I suppose.
In all, it was pretty informative and there were parts that we didn’t know, but the main focus was to follow cues from your baby in terms of what they want and when. That instinct will do most of the work for you. There’s no one way to look after a baby, but everybody’s babies are different and everybody’s methods are different.
It was sort of helpful and then not really helpful at all in the same way.
One thing that still might come out of it, is some mummy friends that are due at the same time (or close to it). One of us finally bit the bullet and said they were going to make a Facebook group so we could meet up, which could help to pass the time on maternity leave if nothing else. This person wasn’t me. I’m not nearly proactive enough for that, but it’s nice to not be totally on your own for this thing.
At the end of our little experience, it turns out that antenatal is a great way to get a general idea of what to expect from labour and the hospital – to be assertive with the nurses and midwives and speak up if you’re unhappy about anything and to do all sorts of things to help the process along. But if you’re looking for a step by step guide to being a parent, it’s probably not what you’ll be looking for.
I’ve given up the quest for that. We’re just going to take it as it comes and do our best.
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