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rr but I can’t give you a lot of detail here because I had to go out for 15 to 20 drinks of water. I do remember that at one point our instructor cheerfully observed that there was “surprisingly little blood, really.” She evidently felt this was a real selling point. When we weren’t looking at pictures or discussing the uterus, we practiced breathing. This is where the pillows come in. What happens is that when the baby gets ready to leave the uterus, the woman goes through a series of what The medical community laughingly refers to as “contractions”; if it referred to them as “horrible pains that make you wonder why the hell you ever decided to get pregnant,” people might stop having babies and the medical community would have to go into the major-appliance business. In the old days, under President Eisenhower, doctors avoided the contraction problem by giving lots of drugs to women who were having babies. They’d knock them out during the delivery, and the women would wake up when their kids were entering the fourth grade. But the idea with natural childbirth is to try to avoid giving the woman a lot of drugs so she can share the first intimate moments after birth with the baby and father and the obstetrician and the pediatrician and the standby anesthesiologist and several nurses and the person who cleans the delivery room. The key to avoiding drugs, according to the natural childbirth people, is for the woman to breathe deeply. Really. The theory is that if she breathes deeply, she’ll get all relaxed and won’t notice that she’s in a hospital delivery room wearing a truly perverted garment and having a baby. I’m not sure who came up with this theory. Whoever it was evidently believed that women have very small brains. So in childbirth classes, we spent a lot of time sprawled on these little mats with our pillows while the women pretended to have contractions and the men squatted around with stopwatches and pretended to time them. The North Shore couples didn’t care for this part. They were not into squatting. After a couple of classes, they started bringing little backgammon sets and playing backgammon when they were supposed to be practicing breathing. I imagine they had a rough time in actual childbirth, unless they got servants to have contractions for them. Anyway, my wife and I traipsed along for months, breathing and timing respectively. We had no problems whatsoever. We were a terrific team. We had a swell time. Really. The actual delivery was slightly more difficult. I don’t want to name names, but I held up my end. I had my stopwatch in good working order, and I told my wife to breathe. “Don’t forget to breathe,” I’d say, or “You should breathe, you know.” She, on the other hand, was unusually cranky. For example, she didn’t want me to use my stopwatch. Can you imagine? All that practice, all that squatting on the natural childbirth classroom floor, and she suddenly gets into this big snit about stopwatches. Also, she almost lost her sense of humor. At one point, I made an especially amusing remark, and she tried to hit me. She usually has an excellent sense of humor. Nonetheless, the baby came out all right, or at least all right for newborn babies, which is actually pretty awful unless you’re a big fan of slime. I thought I had held up well for the whole thing when the doctor, who up to then had behaved like a perfectly rational person, said, “Would you like to see the placenta?” Now, let’s face it. That is like asking, “Would you like me to pour hot tar into your nostrils?” Nobody would like to see a placenta. If anything, it would be a form of punishment. Jury: We find the defendant guilty of stealing from the old and the crippled. Judge: I sentence the defendant to look at three placentas. But without waiting for an answer, the doctor held up the placenta, not unlike the way you might hold up a bowling trophy. I bet he wouldn’t have tried that with people who have matching pillowcases. The placenta aside, everything worked out fine. We ended up with an extremely healthy, organic, natural baby, who immediately demanded to be put back into the uterus. All in all, I’d say it’s not a bad way to reproduce, although I understand that some members of the flatworm family simply divide into two. Copyright 1982 by Dave Barry ANDERSON & COMPANY COFFEE TEA SPICES TWO .11317E111M WAIM AUSTIN, TEXAS min 512 45:3-1533 Send me your list. 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