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The Perilous Journey: In Which The Family Discusses K-Mart, and The Baby Learns Kung-Fu

You may have noticed that I neglected to tell you about the last two labor classes we attended a couple of weeks ago. This sort of writing is fraught with peril, as many people become squeamish by medical talk. I am one of those people. Many people find themselves in awkward positions around issues of the body, childbirth, and child-raising. For example, my friend Steve has narrowly avoided a civil suit while walking into Babies "R" Us, and, upon not finding the bottle section, asking a rather well endowed counter-woman "Excuse me, where do you keep your nipples?" Peril, I tell you. Its everywhere.

So in my case there is no way to discuss the events factually without using the word "uterus" more times than most people, especially me, are comfortable. There was a whole lot of uterus talk, and I'm just not going to enjoy reproducing (har har) it all here. So from here on, we will be referring to that general area that is the business end of birthing as "K-Mart." K-Mart really is an amazing place. All sorts of little miracles that make up the One Big Miracle happen at K-Mart. I have seen more pictures, diagrams and maps of K-Mart then I ever dreamed posible. Given the right working materials and tools, I believe I could reconstruct K-Mart from scratch, such is the depth of detailed knowledge that has been thrust apon me. Thrust is another word I will try to avoid for the rest of my tale.

The second class at the hospital was mercifully free of cattle humor. The cause of this was also the downside, though. We were the only students in attendance. Yessiree, just what I wanted: A one-on-one (one-on-two, I guess?) session in labor, breathing, and, of course, K-Mart. In a room of a dozen couples, its easy to stand in the back and do our massage, breathing, slow dancing, and fake emotional support stuff in a relaxed manner, with a few quiet humorous comments to relieve the pressure. I had hoped that I would live my whole life without ever standing in a quiet room, with the piano/flute/cricket orchestra playing, slow dancing with my wife and telling her when to breathe, while a middle aged, friendly nurse looked on, timing the fake contractions with her stopwatch, and then saying "I liked the way you held her hand when you told her to breathe." Another hope unfulfilled, though. And then, of course, we had the series of laminated maps of K-Mart. Again, in a larger crowd we would be able to admire K-Mart from afar, but there was no escape. We got the full frontal K-Mart tour in a private session.

Don't get me wrong, now. I have all manner of respect for K-Mart. It is where we all come from, and it plays a vital role in this whole project. It is worthy of honor and fear, and its a wonder that the guys in our little classes aren't just hanging around the water cooler discussing it. "Hey, whaddya think of that K-Mart?" "That's something, allright." "Does it have a hemi?" The third and final class was a return to the classroom full of parents-to-be. Less about breathing and screaming, this class had a lot of information about drugs, medical procedures, and the sort of things that I sincerly hope the doctors retain better than I did. One of the highlights was the diagram of the baby-health-monitor, which appears to be a metal rod protruding from the top of the babies head during the labor process. It appears to be in the line drawing, but we were told, assured, and insisted upon that this is just a surface attached little electrode that monitors the vital signs of the child. Being a software developer myself, I am convinced that given a little time alone with the machinery I could program it to teach my baby Kung Fu in-K-Mart-o. Naturally I made this suggestion at least once to my wife as we looked over the diagrams. We took a tour of the birthery after the class, saw the warming trays, toaster ovens, and various medical apparati that the hospital has to work with if needed, and we tried not to notice the woman screaming down the hall.

As much as my life this past month has been all about K-Mart, I gather from all my friends who have recently experienced the One Big Miracle that my life soon will become entirely about poop. I can hardly wait!

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