On Monday, we went to the third session out of the five pre-baby sessions for our NCT Essentials course. You can see how I got on at the other sessions here and here, but I felt very differently during this session that I had in the previous ones. In the last two sessions, we all laughed a lot and it was quite jolly and light-hearted. I was excited at the possibility of having lots of new baby-friends to share this next adventure with and I was really hopeful. After this third session, I suddenly feel like shit got real. And it terrified me.
We started the session by looking at what our leader called ‘the spiral of intervention’ – the ways in which a labour can progress and require more and more medical intervention up until an emergency c-section. I know I have to be prepared for these eventualities and I’ve always felt because I knew about the different labouring interventions, I was. Thing is, I don’t think I’d really thought about how I’d feel should they happen to me. In just a couple of months’ time. It perhaps sounds quite naïve but it’s that classic thing of just assuming oh well, it won’t happen to me. That happens to other people.
One of the Dads lay on the floor and we looked at everything that happens during an emergency C-section. We each had a stage to read out, and each process was represented by a sticker placed on the Dad. Boy, did they soon add up! A sticker on his face to represent drinking the salty antacid solution, sticker on his arm for blood pressure monitor, on finger for the oxygen level monitor, on his back for the epidural, on his belt for the catheter… the list went on and on. And then we started to add people to represent who would be in the theatre: by the end, there must have been about ten people, if not more.
I don’t know why but it really freaked me out. I’m not usually one to feel queasy at medical stuff, but I did feel a bit light headed and woozy. It was all just very over-whelming. Especially for someone who has spent ZERO time in hospital before. I couldn’t imagine myself in that situation without panicking. To be honest, I’m not entirely convinced that wasn’t the class leader’s intention. She hasn’t expressively shown her views, but if you read between the lines, it’s fairly obvious she favours natural birthing methods and breastfeeding. I’ve been advised of the ‘NCT agenda’ when it comes to these things so I was expecting it a little, especially given #4 in their NCT Birth Policy:
The maternity services should be developed and managed to increase the proportion of straightforward vaginal births. With appropriate support and care, the vast majority of women can have a straightforward vaginal birth. Maternity services should provide one-to-one midwifery care for all women in labour. The NCT uses the term ‘straightforward vaginal birth’ to mean a birth that starts, progresses and concludes spontaneously, without major interventions, such as a caesarean or an instrumental delivery, or a series of other medical procedures. A large majority of women in the UK give birth in hospital and action should be taken to increase their opportunities to give birth without unnecessary interventions. For many of those women with a more complex pregnancy, requiring some medical care or ready access to emergency facilities, birth does not have to be a wholly medical event. It can be immensely rewarding for them to be actively involved in coping with contractions and pushing their baby into the world.
During our usual cup of tea break, I was in a bit of a funny mood and whilst I’d usually be chatting away to the other Mums and Dads, I grabbed a drink and biscuit and sat just with LPD for a bit. He is always my rock, and I know if I’m next to him, everything will be okay.
After the break, we each discussed the same scenario in smaller groups: Dad is back at work, both Mum and Dad had a very disturbed night with baby, Dad comes back from work to find Mum still in pyjamas, breakfast stuff still on the table and baby crying. How do you think Dad would feel? How would Mum feel? What can Dad do to help this situation?
I cannot tell you how grateful I was for LPD during this discussion. In this (let’s face it, quite likely) situation, I know exactly what he’d do – he’d come in, not bat an eyelid at the breakfast stuff, give baby a cuddle, offer to run me a bath and sort dinner out. Yes, he sounds like some kind of superhuman wonder-husband, and that’s because he is. Hearing some of the other Dads’ thoughts and feelings about the situation made me realise just how lucky I am and reassured me that as a team, we’ve got this.
Hopefully next week, I’ll be a bit more myself and not so introverted. We’re officially at the half way point of our NCT Essentials course. We’re testing out some of our baby buys next week, so each couple are bringing in a different baby-related item and we’ll have some dolls to play with to ‘test’ them out. LPD and I will be taking our Innoo Baby Sling we bought a few months back. That should be fun! Surely nothing scary about that, right?