My body remains still and limp: My first experience with Hypnobirthing

If you’re not familiar with hypnobabies, then look into my eyes.  Are you getting sleepy?  Yes.  You’re getting sleepy.  Very sleepy.  You’re entering the deepest sleep you’ve ever felt.

A drawing by Rob Pollak hypnobirthing and hypnobabies

When I snap my fingers, you will have an uncontrollable urge to share the link to my blog with everyone you know.

In the meantime, while you sit in a blissful state of heightened relaxation, let me tell you about hypnobabies.  To my surprise, hypnobabies has nothing to do with this Pokemon:

Nor does it have anything to do with a bunch of boozy babies slugging back this:

As I now understand it, Hypnobirthing is a French cult that brainwashes pregnant women with hippie-ish tendencies into believing that they will have a carefree and pain-free childbirth.  In other words, it’s the epidural without the shot or pain relief.  It achieves this by stealing your Friday nights during the height of Spring and placing you in a windowless corporate room with other terrified parents-to-be.

For the first hour of class, our Birth Professor read from the Hypno-manual and told stories that were meant to calm the nerves.  She told us that we don’t have to listen to friends who share the horror stories from their 91 hour labor.   “Thank god,” I thought as I listened to her proceed to tell us all the bad things that can happen if we don’t follow her instructions.

Or even if we do follow the instructions, how sometimes hypnobirthing can be so relaxed that the baby might slip out and become injured.  Like the time a Pilates instructor hypnobirthed and became so vaginally pliable that, while in labor, she went into a squat so deep that her baby cartwheeled out of the birth canal and hit his head on the ground.  Thankfully, the child was fine and he immediately found himself in happy baby pose while the doula checked his vitals.

Here’s how Hypnobirthing actually works.  You’re supposed to repeat certain affirmations in order to train your brain that the experience of labor is not a war between the body and the baby.  We practiced in class and discussed the way the affirmations can truly change your mindset.  It really did seem relaxing.

Here, try it with me:

My body remains still and limp

My body remains still and limp

My body remains still and limp?

Well, gee.  Wasn’t that empowering emasculating.

Here, let’s try another one together:

My cervix opens outward and allows my baby to ease down. 

My cervix opens outward and allows my baby to ease down. 

My cervix opens outward and allows my baby to ease down. 

Ahhhhhh!  Pure bliss.  I’m feeling better already.  You?

For me, the highlight of class was the first snack break.  Professor Placenta distributed these amazing French cookies.  The pregnant moms looked on in horror when I took two from the box, especially the mom at the end of the circle who may have gotten no cookies because of me.

It may have seemed like a dick move at the time, but as you’re about to see, proper nourishment can be very important for hypno dads.

After the break, the teacher explained that we would be moving to the video portion of the evening.  She wheeled in a sweet flat screen and popped in a DVD from 1974.

We watched two videos.  The first was an amazing five-minute birth, edited to make it seem as if labor involved no blood, no screaming, no pain, or no crying.  It’s exactly how I imagined labor to be when I imagined it involving a stork.  I felt better about the process and even started to wonder if I could stray from the North end zone in a few months when we’re in the delivery room.

That feeling of wonder was quickly shot down.

Video two:  A very relaxed mom and her husband wait for the big moment in the delivery room.  They laugh and joke as if they didn’t have a care in the world.  They probably didn’t, but the second film was directed by the Stanley Kubrick of Hypnobirthing videos.  A quick cut sent us from the laughter and joking to the inside of what’s medically known as “up in the business.”  There, a brand new child with a head the size of rottweiler began corkscrewing its way through an opening the size of nostril.

As the child moved down the birth path, the temperature of the classroom suddenly increased by 12,400 degrees.  I looked up to my left to see how Anne was taking it.  All three of her seemed to be taking it quite well.  Those buttery French cookies that earlier had been so delicious now felt as if they had lodged in the portion of my esophagus just north of digestion and south of regurgitation.

On the brink of collapse, I put into practice all the tricks I had learned during the first hour of class.  I bobbed my head in rhythm and recited every affirmation I knew:  Mycervixopensoutward Mycervixopensoutward Mybodyislimp Mybodyislimp.

I felt much much better until a second later when a pool of blood gushed out of the birther’s upinyourbusiness and then the other things that come out came out.  I don’t know what these were, but one looked like an alien with an eel connected to it, one looked like a sac of breast implant, and another looked like this turkey chili Anne once cooked for me.

Pass out

Frenchie walks over and turns off the video and says, “so, Vhat did zoo theeenk?”  At least that’s what I think she said.  It was hard for me to hear her voice, which was being drowned out by the birds circling my head and chirping.  I stared up at her and tried to respond, but I could barely see through the bright light that I was slowly gliding towards.

At that moment, I leaned forward in my chair and took hold of my head.  Anne emerged from her state of hypno-meditative bliss and finally caught a glimpse of me.  “Why do you look like the guy from Powder?”  She asked.  “Are you okay?”  She reached over and gently rubbed the top of my head, a move she instantly regretted when she felt my sopping brow.

Amazingly, I didn’t faint, but I was brought back to full consciousness by Anne’s audible laughter at my expense.  I shared with the class that I had just almost passed out, and everyone had a good laugh at my expense.  Although I was embarrassed, I like to consider my light-headedness as an act of macho bravery.  You see, after mocking me for a few minutes, each of the moms went into reassurance mode and explained to me how I had nothing to be afraid of and how the whole thing’s not so bad or scary.  In other words, by nearly passing out, I effectively allayed all of the fears that these women had expressed in the pre-cookie portion of class.  You’re welcome ladies.

Before we were dismissed, I asked the teacher if anyone had ever fainted when they saw those videos.  She responded with a curt “non.”  That’s French for “no, you pussy.”

Technically speaking, the answer to my question remains the same.

Suck it, Hypnobirthing.

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Traveling for Dummies: Anxious, Insane Dummies.

Anne and I are going on vacation next week. So I thought today would be a great opportunity to share everything I’ve learned about travel. (Alternate title: Why Anne hates traveling with me.)

Getting to the Airport:

Leave for the airport 7-12 hours before take off. My parents trained me this way so that if you’re involved in a horrific accident along the way, you have time for minor surgery AND can still arrive at the terminal with enough time to navigate a security line slightly longer than those from September 12, 2001.

Cartoon by Rob Pollak get to the airport early

Security:

Once you arrive at the airport, stress levels increase. Particularly with the security line. Stare at the other lines to make sure that your line does not result in a security experience thirty seconds longer than someone who checked in after you. As you do that, you should have a running monologue in your head like the one I have:

Did I bring the tickets? Of course, idiot, they just checked them. What if my passport doesn’t get scanned? Will they think I’m a terrorist? What if they put me through that special x-ray machine that broadcasts my penis to the entire airport? Did I remember to put my toothpaste in a clear plastic bag? Shoot, is it 3 oz or 4 oz that’s allowed?

Did I accidentally pack fireworks? Do I still have the tickets in my pocket? I better check again. Maybe I should hold Anne’s ticket too. What if she drops hers? Did my flight board yet? It’s supposed to leave in 5 hours. What if it left by accident? Then what happens?

Am I wearing any metal? Anne, do you have the tickets? Are there going to be enough bins left when I get to the machine? It looks like they’re running a little low. Ugh, the other line is totally faster.

Is that dickwad cutting me? Oh, like just because you have a pilot’s uniform means that you can go in any line you want? Asshole. Where’d the tickets go? Oh, they’re in my hand. Thank god.

Can I bring this coffee with me? Will there be any food on the other side? I can’t see over there. What if there’s not? Will they have the new Golf Digest or the one I already have? Do I need to take my laptop out of its case? I forget. Why is everyone staring at me? Am I sweating? Do I have my wallet? I better pat my pocket to check. The tickets?! Dammit, Anne. What’d you do with the tickets?

Boarding:

Approximately thirty minutes prior to boarding, an airline representative announces that boarding will begin. At most airports, this announcement will be both inaudible and incomprehensible. You will, however, clearly hear the announcements for other flights boarding in nearby airports.

Although boarding proceeds in the same manner for every flight, you should hover right next to the boarding area for the entire boarding period. This allows you to be first through the gate once your designated section boards. Not only will you be closer to the gate, but the people who are actually permitted to board might think that you’re in line and stand behind you. Success! Now you can get through the ticket taker before them and stand in the same exact line on the other side of the gate.

A cartoon by Rob Pollak - Travel guide where to stand when boarding a plane

Overhead Bins:

Once aboard the plane, commandeer an overhead bin wherever you want. It doesn’t matter if it’s close to your seat. Airplanes only have enough overhead bin space for 1/17th of all passengers.

Once you’ve taken up as much bin space as possible, ignore all requests to keep smaller items like backpacks and jackets out of the overhead bin.

Peeing:

As if peeing in a coffin-sized bathroom isn’t bad enough, you have the added stress of navigating the beverage service and other passengers when timing your pee. Once beverage service begins, all bets are off. The flight attendants hog the aisle and never ever leave. So if you kind of have to go, then you should try to go before the drinks come out. The flight attendant may yell at you because you’re never allowed to be when you have to go, as noted by the “fasten your seatbelt” sign. This is just a recommendation – as if seatbelts on flights do anything.

Pay particular attention to the little light that lets you know when the bathroom is empty. Continue to stare at the light until it changes from red to green. In the meantime, identify anyone else playing the same game. You can spot them because they are staring at you while preparing to murder you if you try to get up first. Ignore their threats and hope that there’s an air marshal on board.

Takeoff:

Just before take off, the flight attendant will remind you to turn off your cell phone and place your seat in the upright and locked position. You only have to follow this rule if you’re not currently using your cell phone. If you are using your device, it’s just a recommendation.

If your device is off, then you can glare at and judge the E one asshole sitting on the other side of your aisle. You know, the oblivious guy making a tweet before take off. It probably says, “Ugh. STILL on the runway. Jetblue is the WORST” or “JFK —-> LAX.” If you’re not familiar the airport code to airport code update translates roughly to “I’m a douche.”

The garbage collection:

If you’re not 100% focused on the flight attendant, be prepared to sit with your garbage for the rest of the flight. I obtained a copy of the Flight Attendant Training Manual, which reads as follows:

How to PIck Up Garbage from Passengers in Business Class:
Step 1: Remove one garbage bag from the flight attendant staging area.
Step 2: Cover hands with blue latex gloves.
Step 3: Address each passenger by name, make eye contact, and ask if he or she has any trash. Example: Mr. Jones, do you have any trash that I can take for you?
Step 3a: If the passenger hands you garbage, place it into the trash bag and proceed to Step 3c.
Step 3b: If the passenger does not hand you garbage, proceed to step 3C.
Step 3c: Thank passenger by name. For example, say, “Thank you, Mr. Jones.”

How to PIck Up Garbage from Passengers in Coach Class:
Step 1: Run down the Coach aisle as fast as possible.
Step 2: Avoid eye contact.
Step 3: Hold the bag open just enough for one crumpled napkin.
Step 4: Do not touch any garbage so each passenger in the aisle has to hand it to some stranger sitting next to him.
Step 5: Proceed to the intercom system and announce, “We will now begin trash collection for this flight.”

An Interview with me about running


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My friends at Hot Bird Running asked me to be the featured runner in their weekly “Interview with a runner” series.   Apparently every other runner in the world was too busy, so I agreed to do the interview.  If you found me through the Hot Birds, then check out my facebook page while you’re here.

Please note – this is not a humble brag.  It’s a 100% blatant brag tinged with self-deprecating humor.

If you enjoy the things that I do here (like hysterical commentary, hilarious stick figure drawings, and hackneyed charts and graphs), then you will like this interview.

Here’s a sneak preview:

A pie chart showing the reasons why I run by Rob Pollak.  Reasons Include:  So I won't be fat, too lazy to learn other exercises, to not die, to feel superior to fat people, jared from subway said i should, to gawk at fit pretty people, to eat more, ran once but have OCD so couldn't stop

I promise that if you click the link you won’t be disappointed.  Or you’ll be mildly disappointed.  Or completely disappointed.  How should I know what kind of shitty mood you’re in today.

Please note that I linked to the interview about 50 times.  But if you’re a moron and missed those embedded links, here’s a more obvious version, idiot:

http://www.hotbirdrunning.com/blog/2013/3/21/interview-with-a-runner.html