Staring at the plus sign on the home pregnancy test, I was in shock. Italian Stallion and I knew we wanted kids and planned to have a big family, though I hadn’t expected to get pregnant so easily. I was still finishing school and I was only 19! Our “plan” had been to wait a few years after getting married to start a family, and enjoy the time of “just us.”
Apparently I was one of those women who just get “the feeling” when they are pregnant, because on a hunch I had decided to take a pregnancy test. Immediately aware of the new life I was carrying, I suddenly became concerned about every possible threat to the baby. Were there chemicals in my hand soap? Lead in the paint on the wall? Radiation from my laptop? I figured surely Dr. Pepper was off limits and poured the rest of the one I was drinking down the drain, realizing that I was nauseous, though probably only psychosomatically.
How will I tell Italian Stallion? I was out of town for the day and was driving back that evening. I packed my bag as my mind raced with thoughts. I pulled on my jeans and North Face jacket and got into the car. I had a four-hour drive ahead, plenty of time, I figured, to decide how to tell Italian Stallion and plan the next nine months.
Boy was I wrong! Those four hours were the fastest of my life. I was so excited to tell him, yet nervous at the same time. How would he react? Would he be excited too? As I drove the small state highway to my destination, I worried that the buckle of my belt was squeezing my stomach and somehow hurting the baby. I wondered if it was even safe for me to drive anymore, I was pregnant after all! I drove those four hours following every speed limit and driving law to the letter. Still trying to figure out how to tell Italian Stallion, I arrived at our apartment. That evening, we were planning to go out to a local bar that was famous for the aspiring songwriters who had played there. Rumor had it that anyone who wanted to make it big in the music business had to play at this bar, and tonight, one of our friends was playing there.
All through dinner I waited for the perfect opportunity to tell Italian Stallion, but somehow between the smoky atmosphere (should I even be around smoke?) and the drinking songs, the moment never felt quite right. I barely picked at the horrible bar food, slightly nauseous and wondering when the hunger part of the pregnancy would kick in. As we arrived back at our apartment, I got ready for bed. He noticed that I seemed rather reserved, and knowing that I had mentioned in passing the day before that I wondered if I was pregnant, he asked “are you still thinking you might be pregnant?”
Time’s up! I had to tell him now! “No,” I responded, “I am pregnant!.” Italian Stallion immediately got the look that I imagine most men get (or at least feel like getting) upon hearing the news that they are now a father: a look of fear, excitement and the realization that they now have another person to be responsible for. “Really?” He asked, “Are you sure?” I got the pregnancy test out of my bag to show him. As the realization sunk in that we were going to be parents, we sat on the bed, held hands and talked about the coming months. Where would we put a baby? What would we name it? What doctor would we use? I had just moved to the city where Italian Stallion worked after we got married, and hadn’t even thought of finding a dentist, much less a gynecologist yet.
We fell asleep that night with his hand on my 3-week pregnant (though five week pregnant by doctors calculation) tummy.
The next day, we told our families, and received a mixture of surprise and excitement. Italian Stallion has four brothers, who for a while had hinted about when they were going to be uncles, so after the surprise, they were excited too. When my 20-week ultrasound revealed that we were having a boy, that excitement grew for Italian Stallion and his brothers. “More testosterone…” I thought to myself.
I was so busy with finishing up the last semester of my journalism program that I hardly had time to think about the impending birth until about seven months into the pregnancy. At that point, I figured it would be a good idea to Google “birth” and figure out what I wanted for this life changing experience. Bad idea. Bad idea to ever google anything! Immediately hundreds of results came up, including results for “birth videos” and “birth pictures.” Now for a young, seven month pregnant woman, close up pictures of vaginal birth are not exactly comforting. I squirmed in my seat as I accepted the realization that a seven or eight pound baby would eventually be exiting my body. I squirmed even more as I read of the record sizes of babies that had been born recently-14 pounds, 17 pounds… ouch!
I clicked on a link for birth plans. That sounded safe enough, it’s always good to have a plan, right? At this point I entered a whole new world I never realized existed. Did I want a PKU screening? What the heck is a PKU screening anyway? Did I want a vitamin K shot or Hep B shot for the baby? Why give babies shots, I wondered? Did I want any kind of pain medication? Now that was a good question!
My mom and Italian Stallion’s mom had both birthed their children naturally (a total of eight between them). I felt like this was something I should do, to prove my womanhood, of course, for I could not allow myself to be less of a woman that my MIL! That was setting the course for marital disaster. I checked “no medication” as my preference on the birth plan. After doing some additional reading on the possible dangers of epidurals, narcotics, and analgesics to mom and baby, I felt relieved in this decision. Then I got to the section on relaxation techniques, “another good idea,” I thought.
The birth plan mentioned breathing, meditation, focal points, massage (everyone likes massage, right?), movement and other ideas for pain relief during natural labor. Then it hit me: I didn’t know how to breathe! Obviously if “breathing” was mentioned as a coping technique, there had to be more to it than just inhaling and exhaling. Google Ads mentioned Lamaze on the side bar. I had heard of Lamaze before, and figured this must be what breathing was all about. I searched for Lamaze classes in our area and called and reserved our place in the next class, which would finish right before we were due.
That night when Italian Stallion got home, I casually informed him that we were signed up for a Lamaze class, starting the next week. He groaned. His mom had taught Lamaze and he was less that excited about a six week commitment to learn how to breathe in a room full of other pregnant couples….