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We’re four sessions into our pregnancy class, an exercise that so far has been dominated by three main activities: massaging, stretching and watching HORRIFYING BIRTH VIDEOS. It’s like the whole propagation of the species thing was an elaborate practical joke to get you to see things that make you never want to have sex again. Come to think of it, I can see that being an evolutionary necessity. Well played, Nature.

Our teacher is Natalie, a mother of two and a part-time teacher and doula. She likes to employ visual aids in the form of a baby doll and a hand-knit replica of a uterus, vagina and placenta, and I guess my only complaint is as great as those are (and they are fantastic, espeically when she gets to employ the phrase “detachable vagina”), her prop box doesn’t extend beyond that. Perhaps I’m speaking too soon. We haven’t really gotten to breastfeeding yet. Fingers crossed.

As far as practical exercises go, we’ve been taught a few techniques for easing the pains of childbirth. They’ve been mostly of the yogic and massage capacities. Sarah seems to appreciate them, though whether they’ll have an effect in the delivery room is obviously still up in the air. We haven’t gotten into breathing techniques yet. Fortunately we’ve got a bona fide expert on our side in the form of ex-Lamaze teacher Adrienne, Sarah’s mom, so if we feel lacking in that area, we know who to turn to.

Tonight’s class was dominated by the screening of The Business of Being Born, a documentary about the rise of medical births in America and the counterpoint of the home birth movement. For this particular choir, it was a bit of preaching, but still a compelling reaffirmation of our attitudes toward the birthing process. None of us in class are doing a home birth, but we’re all trying to make it as natural as possible. It’s stunning to me how strongly the trends in American births run antithetical to this idea. It wasn’t too long ago that it would have been a major struggle to use a midwife. We’re really quite fortunate that there’s an ace midwifery practice not only in our healthcare network, but mere blocks from our house.

The movies, the lessons, the other lovely couples in our group — they all add up to a support system for this scary, new endeavor. As much as we watch and read up, we can’t really understand the craziness of labor until we’re in there and It Starts To Happen. So we’re preparing ourselves slowly, the best way we know how, and hoping that when things start to go crazy, we’ll have a solid foundation of understanding to fall back on, and the confidence to know we’re doing things right.

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