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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Interview with a Dad: Sock-er Mom edition

Last week, I began a new interview series where I learn everything there is to know about being a dad.  Ryan was a real sport during that interview, but unfortunately he answered all my questions.  So even though this is only week two, I’m mixing it up a bit and interviewing a real mom.  Don’t worry though, she kind of has a boy’s name.

Without further ado, let’s get to my interview with Andriana Caradimitropoulo Spence, better known as Andy.  See a boy’s name.

Continue reading

Real Answers to All of My Ridiculous Parenting Questions

Although my moula search rages on, many of my questions about parenthood remain unanswered.  To stay on top of things, I’ve decided to go right to the source.

For the next few weeks – or until I run out of willing participants – I’ll be conducting a series of interviews with dads.  They have kindly agreed to answer all of my ridiculous questions about my quest to become the perfect father to the perfect PGA tour golfer.

First up in the series is Ryan. Ryan is a dad of a Parker, a rambunctious 3 year-old boy.  This is Parker: Continue reading

Men – The Answer To All Your Concerns About Pregnancy Is Here.

Everyone knows that pregnancy can be an anxious and trying time for women.  For years, savvy people have created profitable ideas for helping women navigate the process.

A wise person once said that behind every heterosexual, pregnant, egg-donor-free, “traditionally”-married, monogamous woman is a man.  As one of those men, I can assure you that we can use just as much help as our counterparts.  That’s why today, I’m thrilled to announce the greatest business idea I’ve ever created.

Introducing:  THE MOULA

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Epididymis Isn’t a Greek Philosopher and Other Lessons I Wish I Learned in Health Class

A drawing of the IVF process by Rob Pollak

I learned a lot about life in 9th grade health class. I learned that condoms go on bananas, drugs are bad, and girls immediately get pregnant if you look at their boobs instead of their eyes.

Through a lot of trial and error — and one horribly embarrassing conversation in which I insisted that the Fallopian tube was part of a trombone — I now realize that health class didn’t teach me everything.  Particularly when it comes to pregnancy.  That’s because a wrestling coach who was coerced into teaching one semester of health may not have been the best person to teach me.

All of this is just a long winded way of saying that my wife Anne and I have spent the last few years trying to have a baby.  It all started when we realized that there were times when kids could actually be cute. (Overalls, yes. Spit up, no. Sunglasses, yes. Afterbirth, no.).

And since the entirety of my knowledge of human biology came from that health class, I was surprised at how difficult it was to add a little one to the family.  Believe me, after we pulled the proverbial goalie, we gave it a valiant effort:

Train .gif

As it turned out, you don’t get a baby just by watching clips of trains driving into tunnels, geysers erupting, or fireworks exploding in midair.  The real process involves way more than that.  For many people, it can take years, involves elaborate scheduling, and includes a monitor that measure ovulation on a 3 point scale.  If you pee a 1, you watch reruns of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.  If you pee a 3, well let’s just say that one time Anne peed a 3 while she was in Delaware and I was summoned across three state lines.  It was perhaps the greatest moment of my life.

And for us, none of that seemed to work, so the process involved asking for medical help in the form of in vitro fertilization (IVF).  As if pregnancy wasn’t already scary and overwhelming enough, the IVF process is complex and intimidating.  When Anne first called to set up an informational meeting, the nurse walked her through the schedule of an entire IVF cycle, our child’s birthdate, the theme for his first birthday party, the song he’d dance to at his wedding, and the massive inheritance he would receive from the proceeds of my million dollar blog.

If you’re freaking out at the level of oversharing that’s happening in this post, don’t fret.  My intention in writing this post is to remove the veil of secrecy that prevents people from talking about this process and to help others navigate it.  Because, for me, it took a while to realize that the lesson from high school Health class — that pregnancy is easy — turns out to be wrong.  Pregnancy and fertility are way more complex and terrifying than I had ever imagined.

A drawing of the IVF process by Rob Pollak

Orientation and Background Testing

If you also didn’t pay attention in your high school biology or health classes, then you may be in for a surprise when you start the IVF process.  Thankfully our experience began with orientation, which consisted of an extremely patient nurse walking us through an interminable powerpoint presentation.

After the orientation we were herded into the blood room. I call it that because it’s the room where women go to provide vial upon vial of blood to a staff of nurses who constantly ask for their birth dates.  That first day, I watched a nurse remove 25 gallons of blood, one 2-ounce vial at a time, from Anne’s vulnerable little arm.  The experience looked terrible, and I thanked my lucky stars that I didn’t have to participate.

A moment later, however, the nurse asked me if I was Jewish.  She probably had racially profiled me based on my massive schnoz, superior intellect, and yamulke tan.  I answered yes, but was unprepared for what happened next.  She sat me down in the chair, alcohol’ed up my arm, and stabbed me in the vein with an olympic javelin sized needle.

Moments later, when I came to, a group of amorphous blurs in scrubs were shoving smelling salts in my face.   My shirt was sopping wet with sweat, and I had achieved a level of paleness that bordered on translucent.  Our IVF experience was off to a great start!

A drawing of IVF by Rob PollakBecause I had thoroughly embarrassed the family, I was pleased to find that, from that day forward, my only responsibility was to hold Anne’s coat.  Anne, on the other hand, was the subject of constant examination.  Most of which involved a small army of doctors sending the Hubble telescope into areas of Anne’s body that she would be uncomfortable having me mention on the internet.

Up next:  Part 2 – Actually, there was one other thing I had to do… My trip to the Boom Boom Room (Follow my facebook page to receive an update when I post)