Mafe Maria: Personal stories by autism parent mentor, Maria Stultz

Sticking Out

At childbirth classes, Vicky, our instructor (a maternity nurse at the hospital where I’ll deliver) makes all moms line up at the front of the room by due dates. I turn out to be the last one on the line, meaning the one with the farthest due date. Vicky comments on how we all carry differently and explains that pregnant bellies on women with shorter torsos (e.g. me) tend to stick out more because there’s less vertical room for the baby. The poor thing has to curl more to fit in, I guess. At that point I don’t take a look at the bellies… I’m a lot more interested on what Vicky is saying, and on the fact that most of these women will get rid of their bellies three weeks sooner than me. Vicky says that we’re all beautiful and prompts the “coaches” (our partners) to clap at us as we take our seats back.

A few hours later on a new line up — this time at the ladies room waiting to empty our tiny bladders — I take a look at the five surrounding bellies, and realize with horror that mine is the biggest there. The Horror!… These women are a full three weeks ahead of me and their bellies are all elegantly compact, while mine is this pointy outrageous bullet audaciously poking out of my pre-pregnancy jean jacket, eager to have a chat with all ladies surrounding it. Make no mistake: I love my beautiful bullet, but still… I say to the woman ahead of me “Oh my God! What a huge belly I have”. Without missing a second or even looking at my belly, she turns to me and replies “But it’s sooooo cute! It is absolutely adorable!”. And I think it’s funny… She must have already noticed it to blurt that out so fast.

Besides my belly, as it was to be expected, my coach also sticked out at our first childbirth class. A few of Joey’s joey-like apuntes:

Vicky asks: “What does amniotic fluid smell like?”
Joey’s loud answer: “Roses!”

Vicky mentions that our hospital does have some delivery rooms with tubs.
Joey asks me quietly: “Do you think that they’ll let the coach get on the tub?”
Somehow I know he’s not totally joking about this, and I may find a crossword puzzle for his bath somewhere in my hospital bag.

After watching the video of a natural labor and discussing the benefits of the epidural, Vicky asks: “Why do some women choose not to get the epidural?”
Joey’s shy answer: “Masochism?”

However, in an attempt to score points (kidding baby!), he later tells me that he will support me if I want to go without an epidural. Of course, although he gets the points, I realize that this is easy for him to say, and God knows if I can truly count on it, when after seeing the video, he tells me that absolutely he will NOT get down on all four to serve as a support table like the husband on the video did to support his deep-in-pain laboring wife during one of their walks through the hospital hallways (min 5 of the video).

My suspicion is further confirmed some time later, when Vicky asks coach to support mom’s back while we practice our hee-hee-hoo breathing exercises, and Joey keeps complaining and shifting my position because he is uncomfortable. At that point I yell “My coach sucks”, and I seriously start realizing that I better plan on taking that epidural sooner than later.


  1. On , Joey wrote:

    Ouch. I may have to stop bringing those little suprise goodies home!

    For the record, the amniotoc fluid joke was a good one . . . it came after a lenghty pause so the timing was great!

    She forgot the other good joke. We had just heard that the first stage of labor, which is when the “mild contractions” go on for 12-16 hours and that this isn’t the time to go to the hospital.

    She asked where the coaches should be at this time, and I said, “at work?”


  2. On , Maria wrote:

    You’re a wonderful pregnancy partner and clown, bebe. I’ll be perfectly happy with the epidural and your surprise goodies. Keep’ em coming!

  3. On , Petie wrote:

    Yes, Joey won’t be your “go to guy” for the pain and heavy labor, but he’ll try to keep you smiling with the jokes!

    Don’t mess around, get the damn epidural. I don’t know why these freaks in the hospital discourage them. Notice it’s the nurses who discourage NOT the doctors. Why??? Nurses like to feel needed, I guess.

  4. On , Maria wrote:

    Oh, it looked to me more like Vicky was strategically encouraging taking the epidural by showing us that video. You see that poor woman labor and suffer for hours, and at some point even say she gives up (like she has a choice)… At the end I was ready to see a “happy video”, cuz this one was so scary.

    The stats Vicky gave us spoke for themselves: 90%-98% of women delivering at this hospital end up taking the epidural. I think she was just trying to acknowledge those who prefer to go natural and their reasons. In our class, we seemed to have only one couple who were seriously considering the drug-free experience.

    Other than the epidural slightly increasing your chances of getting a C-section or slowing down labor, the only thing I heard in favor of not taking it was the feeling of euphoria people get after giving birth naturally. Personally, I plan to go without it as long as I can take the pain (just to be able to help my body ripen things). But as soon as it becomes miserable (and that could well be 5 minutes), I’ll go for it. I think I can pass on the euphoria: I’ll be plenty happy just to see Joaquin emerge with all his little fingers and toes…

  5. On , Joey wrote:

    The nurse who gave the class definitely supported the epidural decision. And that movie they showed really supported it too. Damn, that woman looked miserable.