At the end of one of our appointments with the midwife she asks us “Have you signed up to do the birthing classes?”
D and I of course hadn’t and so after getting the sales pitch from the midwife that they were a ‘good thing’ we mustered as much enthusiasm as we could, shrugged our shoulders and said ‘we suppose we should’.
As we’re lining up to make our booking D turns to me and says “If they show a video of a birth I am not watching it” I say “ok” knowing that a birthing video in a birthing class would no doubt be mandatory viewing.
At that point I have a flashback to my high school Human Development class and remember the video of a birth they made us watch then. The horrific image of that baby crowning is burned into my subconscious and triggers mild PTSD symptoms whenever I go back there.
I remember at the time thinking about all that time in school they wasted trying to educate us on ‘safe sex’. They could have just shown that moment of crowning on a continuous loop and we would have all signed iron-clad vows of chastity.
We booked our classes, a series of four Wednesday nights with the last class being four days before our due date, kind of like last minute cramming for the world’s most painful exam.
Hollywood has taught me enough about birthing classes for me to know that they are not going to be my sort of thing.
A group of couples sitting around in a circle panting and pretending to push out babies while talking about their feelings is my idea of a slow, torturous hell.
Not being a big one for class participation I was dreading the arrival of that first Wednesday night, but dreading it did not prevent its arrival (much like the baby itself).
All of my fears were realised when walking into the classroom the chairs were arranged into a semi-circle pattern. This could only mean that we were going to be called upon to answer questions and address the whole group…class participation.
Nothing gets me looking at my shoes faster than a presenter asking for some volunteer to do an improv demonstration in front of the class.
I’ve been like that since school, I continue to be like that at work training days and these classes were going to be no different.
Just teach me what you have to teach me and let me get out.
D is not a fan of participation either, in fact as we take our places she says to me “if they ask us to introduce ourselves you’re doing it”.
And that was that.
Name tags were handed out and sure enough we went round the room and each couple introduced themselves.
Name, how far along we were and if we knew what we were having.
I was the only guy to speak in the intros and I could see around the room the other men were relieved that their partners had taken the lead and they didn’t have to join in, the women looked at me cautiously, thinking I may be one of those domineering type husbands that doesn’t allow his wife to speak in public.
At the time of this first class we were 36 weeks and 2 days along. Thankfully the final couple to introduce themselves were four days further along than we were, so they took the heat of follow-up questions and any further focus throughout the rest of the class.
After intros the presenting midwife informed us that the classes would be going for the next four weeks, which we were all aware of, and that each class would be three hours long.
D and I turned to look at each other so quickly that we almost got whiplash. D’s mouth hung open and tears started to well in my eyes as on driving to the class we were confident that each class was only going to be two hours.
On the drive there I also said to D that I bet there would be one of those people that you get at every training course or seminar. The one that asks a question after every point the presenter makes, the one that raises their hand or shouts out so consistently that every time they do audible groans can be heard from the rest of the audience.
These are the worst kind of people at these things, and quite possibly in life itself.
That was until the actual teaching part of the class started and a worse type of person reared their ugly head.
The know it all.
This woman in the class would not stop talking, so enamoured was she with the sound of her own voice, I’m confident she spoke more than the presenter did.
My building annoyance rose every time this woman opened her mouth, D who has become an expert at sensing when I’m about to openly criticise someone in public grabbed my leg and gave it a hard squeeze to warn me to bite my tongue.
So, not wanting to cause D any stress, I begrudgingly bit my tongue and the three hours groaned painfully on.
We watched the video of a birth and D stayed for it which I was proud of her for. It wasn’t too bad but the woman’s constant moaning throughout annoyed both of us.
As we discussed later though that was a worst-case scenario video with a woman who had, in my opinion, crazily decided to go through the whole ordeal without the wonderful, medical-miracle that is drugs.
The final part of the first class was a tour of the hospital. This to me seemed unnecessary. I don’t need to know the layout of the hospital, I’m assuming that when I get to the hospital with D screaming with labour pains that someone will actually be there to tell us which way to go.
But one thing was achieved by the tour, D was suitably horrified by the water-birthing suite and its access crane system that any thought of giving birth that way was quickly disregarded.
So, three hours of our life were over, we’d never get them back, but life is full of lost time.
The next Wednesday rolled around and as the class started D and I sat on our couch at home, eating take out Chinese food and watching a movie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
I looked at my watch and said to D “Class is starting now” and we giggled like naughty children who were wagging school.
The classes we had mutually decided were not for us.
I guess we’ll just have to join the many millions of couples around the world and throughout time who have given birth without ever having completed birthing classes.