Before I had kids, I was a neat freak! Everything had a place and everything was in its place. I cleaned my house thoroughly and religiously every Friday from top to bottom, even if no one had been in our guest room or guest bath. Friends and family would skew my placemats or pictures on the wall for sport. Pillows were always fluffed and there was never clutter around my house. I didn’t mean to by so crazy, but somehow, order in my home gave me a sense of peace. I naturally flee from chaos, so I made my home as chaos free as possible. I can’t stand it when things don’t go the way my well-ordered mind thinks they should. I’m completely Type A, quite frankly have a few control issues, and I truly had no idea what was in store for me as a new mom. I’m sure you’re wondering what to possess me to think I wanted kids.
I read everything I could get my hands on about babies. I was in murky water as I had never really liked babysitting when I was younger and my sister had been more of a nuisance as an infant than a learning project. I listened to what my friends said, but I also knew that I was organized and prepared, and I would certainly be different as would my genius offspring. The first tool I took advantage of was a revolutionary book called Babywise. It told me everything I needed to know about what to do with an infant to ensure a predictable schedule and routine, making sure that aforementioned genius child would adhere to my rules and not her own. I believed every word; I think I read it twice, cover to cover, highlighting points along the way.
I also decided that I didn’t want any intervention that wasn’t necessary. Now I know any mom who has had an epidural is shaking her head right now, but let me explain why I thought I could be super woman. Several years prior, I had a good friend who needed a birthing coach because her husband was stationed overseas and would not be available to go to classes and possibly miss the birth. I readily agreed and found the whole experience completely fascinating. Her husband did make it home, but I was still the birthing coach and was able to see how a baby is born up close and personal without having to feel anything but her hand cutting off my circulation. She didn’t have time for an epidural, and she did great, so I thought I would be able to do the same. I should mention this was her fourth child.
So we embarked upon birthing classes using the Bradley Method, which is a 12 week course that emphasizes health and nutrition, education about how your body works and reacts during labor, simulated labor, and husbands as coaches. We found a certified teacher about 25 miles away, so we signed up and headed over to our first class. We arrived at the coach’s home eager to learn. I think there were two other couples attending as well. The first thing I noticed was the smell of cat litter boxes. The first thing I saw was clutter. There was a room off to the left which should have been a living room, filled with boxes, books, magazines, furniture, and who knows what else with no way to walk in or through. There were piles of clothing stacked on the staircase leading upstairs and couple of kids in need of a bath hanging on the railing. In the room itself, we were told we could sit on the floor or the sofa. Neither was a good option. The sofa looked filthy and didn’t smell great, but the floor was worse, with cat hair everywhere. There were empty Coke cans and food wrappers on a table in the back and some empty cans on the book shelves. It was a germophobe’s worst nightmare. I couldn’t think of an escape that wouldn’t be rude, so I eventually sat on the smelly sofa. The information was good, so we decided to keep coming, though I started bringing a towel to sit on.
Although I filled my mind with information and made plans for how I wanted to give birth, I was again destined to learn that I really had no control over the situation. At 36 weeks I had some symptoms that needed checking. I called my doctor and was told to come in. In denial, and assuming I’d be put on bed rest, I threw on some clothes and didn’t pack anything to take with me. I assumed I’d be back home in a couple of hours with my husband at my beck and call. Ignorance is bliss, as they say.