We finished up our birth preparation class this week. For nine weeks we spent two hours every Thursday sitting on blankets, learning about uteruses (uteri?) and placenta (placentae?) and watching horrific videos that would make even the randiest teenager keep it zipped until marriage. We’re now graduates, fully licensed to enter the realm of parenthood. Or, put another way, they can’t say they didn’t warn us.
Every week we’d show up with ten other couples and every week the bellies around us would grow bigger and bigger. The greatest takeaway of the class was the forging of a small community of expectant mothers and fathers. We’ve all drunk our new knowledge from the same fountain, and we’re all putting it to use within a six weeks of each other. We’ll check in with announcements when our babies are born, and hopefully continue to swap stories and stay in touch as they grow older. There are a couple little nuggets in particular whose parents we’re especially fond of.
The class was heavy on the anecdotal and the social, light on the technical. As much as we had any expectations, we did expect more hands-on lessons about breathings and exercises. Not to say we didn’t appreciate what we did learn, which was a solid understanding of how the process works, and what our choices are each step of the way. But when we realized we weren’t going to get much learning about breathing, we turned to Sarah’s mom Adrienne, Lamaze expert extraordinaire, for some lessons. We visited one afternoon and got a crash course of the class she used to teach for twenty five years.
We started off with the lessons on how to breathe. We learned all the different flavors — hoo-EE vs. hoo-AH, etc — and which situations call for which. Then we practiced, with my squeezing Sarah’s elbow for 90 seconds, simulating the pain of contraction and forcing Sarah to fight through it through the techniques she just learned. But these lessons are just as much for me to learn how to coach as they are for Sarah to deliver, and I soon got my quiz as well, in the form of Adrienne on the floor simulating seven different types of labor pains in the span of 90 seconds as I struggled to give her the right encouragement. You haven’t known awkward until you’ve been forced to coach your mother-in-law through fake childbirth.
Now we practice on our own, getting ourselves readier. Will we be able to pull the right techniques at the right times and navigate through to a smooth delivery? Or will the reality of it all bring on paralysis and freak-out? Stay tuned.