Friday, April 23, 2010

Effleurage


Confession: I love Lamaze class.

It's 3 hours long, we live an hour away from the hospital where it's held, and we didn't get home until almost 11 pm. But I love Lamaze class.

I was so excited to go. And Husband was too, whether or not he would admit it to anyone but me. When we were getting in the car, he said "Who's ready for three hours of breathing!" That is him being excited.

But it was so different than we had imagined! The nurse in charge was so great, she kept saying things like "You think you have no idea what to do. But you do. Your body knows how to go into labor and birth your baby. Just listen to your body. You are a strong woman and I KNOW you can do this." I wanted to put her in my pocket and bring her home with me.

We also did progressive relaxation techniques that I had already learned in Prenatal Yoga, so I was a pro at it. My husband may or may not have dozed off at this point, which only I knew because I heard his breathing pattern change. The poor thing was working on a 17 hour day! I cut him a break and let him nap until we were instructed to "return ourselves to the exterior world around us".

Then there was this woman who is due 3 days after me. AFTER ME. Keep this in mind. I am technically further along than she is. This woman was so over the top, Hubby and I could barely keep ourselves together. And of course she sat right next to us. First of all, she was no bigger than any other girl in the whole room. But she walked as if she was carrying triplets, and was in actual transition labor. She demanded that her husband hold her arm up as she entered the room, and had her other arm out to the other side for balance, as if she might spontaneously fall into a wall as she shuffled across the room. Then, when sitting, she made a groaning sound that literally alarmed the whole room. We all looked. Is she okay? Did she fall? Is she injured in some way? Conversations stopped momentarily. No. She is just sitting down. Into a cushioned rocking chair. I think she's going to live.

She acted as if she was the only woman ever to have gone into labor or bear children. Anytime she got out of her chair, she had he husband stand in front of her, she shifted to the front of her seat, and held out both hands for her husband to hold. Then, she proceeded to take 3 deep breaths. Every time - 3 breaths. I wish I was kidding. Then was the big heave, as he pulled her out of the chair, and she looked as if she was getting pulled from a burning car. Interesting how the other 15 pregnant women in the room (here is where I will remind you that I am FURTHER ALONG THAN SHE) managed to get out of our chairs all by ourselves, with the help of those fancy little arm rests!

Anyway, needless to say, it was pure comedy. We are very excited to see what happens next week. Or, Lord help us, on our last class in mid-May. She'll be 2 weeks from due, and I won't be surprised if her water breaks in class and she faints.

But my favorite part, was the effleurage. As we were learning ways that our support partners could help us relax, she started talking about massages, including effleurage, which she said she guarantees we had all done before. We all looked at her, very puzzled. Then she started rubbing her belly in a circular motion. This subconscious action that I have done since I was 3 weeks pregnant actually has a name!! I have been rubbing my belly since there was barely a belly to rub. I never knew why. It made me feel close to my baby, it reminded me that I had a little growing chickpea, even when nobody else could tell. It reminded me to take things easier, rest when I needed, and take care of my body. And it made me smile. When I would be at work or stressed, I would sit and "effleurage" (what a beautiful name it has now!) and it would remind me that there was a miracle happening every minute, even though no one but my baby and I knew it. Then I would keep doing it as I got bigger because my baby would kick me, and I rubbed back to communicate with it. I started talking at the same time too, letting it know that it was Mama saying hi when I was rubbing. Early on, people would even say to me, "Why do you keep rubbing your belly?" I would sometimes say, "I don't really know...I think baby likes it." Turns out, this whole time, baby really did know and enjoy the massage! Baby has been calmed and soothed by this motion since day 1, and it will continue to relax both baby and I during labor. Effleurage. What a magical concept, that is evidently instinct in the female human body. I never cease to be amazed by this process that God has created.

Oh, and if you happen to be in my Lamaze class, and happen to be reading my blog, I was not talking about you before. I was talking about that other girl. Yes, that one.

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