Yeah, so, after putting it off for as long as we could, mighty, mighty, good man David and I finally went to a child birth class on Saturday.
I feel like Kaiser has been pushing this class on us pretty much since the pregnancy test came back positive, and now that I’m three weeks away from my due date, we finally caved. In other words, we spent a beautiful Saturday in a classroom from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Of course, I have taken this class before with my sister almost 10 years ago when she was pregnant with my niece Lorelei, but the only thing I remember about it is a graphic child birth video and the leering dads who thought Michelle and I were a lesbian couple, and they were hoping we would make out at any second.
I figured it would be a good idea to take the class again, because it’s an entirely different experience when you are the one doing the pushing instead being the one saying “push.” Also, I really don’t think David has any idea what he is in for, and no matter how many stories I tell him from the two births I’ve witnessed, it won’t prepare him. In fact, this class won’t really prepare him, either, but we went anyway.
Just like every other event in my life, I started out the class by making an assy impression. We showed up at the Daly City Kaiser (this was the only class that fit in our schedule) on time, but I wasn’t happy about it. I think setting an alarm on a Saturday is a crime against nature.
We got into an elevator with several other pregnant couples, and I made the obvious joke, “Well, it looks like we’re in the right place, David.” The other couples politely laughed. All the men were holding fluffy comfy pillows for the class. Meanwhile, David was holding a pillow so old and flat that my mother probably took it to birthing class when she was pregnant with me.
David: “I think you need a new pillow.”
Me: “It’s perfectly fine.”
David: “It’s vintage.”
When we walked into the class, all the pregnant ladies were sitting around sipping from their massive water bottles. I, on the other hand, was sipping on a half-caf pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks, because it sounded good, and it’s Saturday morning before 9 a.m. and I wanted it, dammit. Later I would note that they all had healthy little snacks in their bags, while I had a glazed doughnut in my purse. BUT, to be fair, I did have a nice, healthy breakfast. The doughnut was purchased purely as a treat to reward myself later for sitting through the class.
Shortly after class began, the instructor broke us up into groups. In my group I was immediately identified as someone who doesn’t love my baby.
Pregnant lady: “I love your hair.”
Me: “Oh, thank you.”
Pregnant lady: [with a judgy tone] “I can’t believe you dye your hair.”
David: “I don’t think she would have agreed to this pregnancy thing if she couldn’t dye her hair.”
Me: “There’s nothing wrong with getting your hair dyed when you are pregnant. I cleared it with the doctor.”
Pregnant lady: “Your doctor said it was OK?”
Me: “Yes.” [But I wanted to say, “Fine. You got me. I didn’t ask my doctor. I consulted a Magic 8, and all signs point to yes.”]
I shrugged it off. There’s a lot of pregnancy information out there. You can Google any question and get 10 different answers to a simple yes or no question. I really did ask my doctor about it, and she did say it was fine. So there.
There were probably 20-25 couples in the class. It was kinda nice to be around all the pregnant ladies. When they say, “Every pregnancy is different,” they are right. None of us looked the same. Some women were carrying really high; some were really low; some were carrying really wide; some had a belly that stuck out so far it entered a room two minutes before they did. There was a really, REALLY skinny pregnant woman, She was eating throughout the entire class. I suspect she’s had a rough pregnancy and has been unable to put on weight. And there were some women on the opposite side of that spectrum. In that class, I was right in the middle, size wise. It made me feel normal.
We definitely learned some useful things in the class: different positions I could try to move the spawn along during child birth, different ways David can help me minimize the pain. The instructor showed us a video that wasn’t nearly as graphic as the one Michelle and I watched 10 years ago. In that video, they basically pointed a camera at woman’s vagina, and we watched a baby come out. It was horrifying. After the video was over, the entire class looked like it was going to throw up.
The video we saw on Saturday definitely had graphic elements, but it wasn’t nearly as disturbing. The video Michelle and I saw was like hardcore porn, and the video David and I saw on Saturday was more like Cinemax After Dark. And just like when I watch porn, I cried at the end.
Yes, I admit it. When the baby was born, I cried. Happy now? I had to take off my glasses and wipe my eyes. I looked around the room, and no one else was carrying. No one! I even asked David later, “Was anyone else crying when the baby was born in the video?”
“No, just you. Mostly people were staring at the screen, frowning,” he said. “They are probably wondering what they’ve gotten themselves into.”
Random thoughts about the class:
The teacher was really big on asking the guys questions. She enjoyed putting them on the spot. At one point she asked the guys what the uterus was. The room was silent until David said, “That’s his home,” meaning the spawn, I assume.
“What is the cervix?’ she asked.
David: “It’s the magic gateway.”
The instructor told us that in very early labor, sex is a great way to relieve stress and anxiety.
“Sex will help her relax, dads,” she said.
David: “It helps me relax, too.”
The class had some most excellent people watching (my favorite thing!). I was fascinated by one of the pregnant ladies who showed up to class with a pillow and a blanket. She sat on them on the floor for the entire class. She was the only one to sit on the floor. She was wearing her comfy socks and during the video, she spent her time texting and emailing people. I imagine she makes a big deal about her pregnancy wherever she goes. She’s the type of mom who already has a Baby on Board sign in her car. She will spit in your face if you say you are not going to breastfeed your baby. I also suspect it took all her will power not to call Child Protective Services on me for drinking a half-caf pumpkin spice latte.
At some point in the class, someone asked if it was true that San Francisco doesn’t allow circumcision. The instructor wasn’t prepared for that question, so I chimed in: “A group tried to get a measure on the ballot outlawing circumcision, but it was removed.”
“So, it’s no longer on the ballot?” the instructor asked.
“Well, they tried to put it on the ballot but for some reason it got removed,” the pregnant princess replied, clearly annoyed with this decision.
I instantly became concerned that some sort of political argument was going to break out, and she was going to lead the charge, but thankfully the instructor moved on.
Meanwhile, David couldn’t stop staring at the pregnant princess’ significant other’s big nose. “He looks like Sam the Eagle,” said David. “It reminds me of something my dad would say when he saw a guy with a huge schnoz: ‘I wish I had his nose full of nickels.'”
There was a pregnant woman in the class whose birth coach is her mother. The pregnant woman is young, maybe 20 or 21. She had a lot of questions. She is the one who asked about the circumcision ban. Throughout the class she asked a series of questions and blurted out random statements.
“The lady who does our nails told us that your milk won’t come in for two days after the baby is born so how are you supposed to breastfeed right away?”
“What are the odds of being paralyzed by the epidural?”
“I heard that vaccinations are bad for the baby.”
The instructor answered this question politely, whereas I might have said, “Maybe you shouldn’t take medical advice from Jenny McCarthy and ask your doctor about it instead.”
Also, I’m pretty sure she asked where babies come from.
When she wasn’t asking questions, her and her mother talked … throughout the entire class. They never stopped talking. Oh, and her mother handed David her homemade business card. Apparently, she can save us money on our PG&E. Awesome.
Like I mentioned, there was some useful information in the class. It’s great to know all your options. But, at the same time, the instructor was obsessed with us knowing all the names of everything; all the different stages labor and the different phases of labor in those stages. She quizzed us a lot. Sure, it’s good stuff to know, but I’ve participated in two births, and I don’t remember needing to know all this stuff. At no point during my sister’s labors did I say, “Now you are in the active labor phase in the the first stage of labor.” If I had said that, I’m pretty sure Michelle would have punched me in the neck.
All David needs to know is that labor fuckin’ sucks. It’s going to hurt, and he’s going to have to watch me go through it. It’s a shitty position to be in. I’ve done it. It’s hard. He just needs to be supportive, be my advocate and rub my back, my feet or whatever else I ask him to rub. And he needs to make sure that I look good in the post-child birth photos, because I’m a vain asshole.
Oh, and I want him to sneak a beer or some red wine to me in the hospital after the delivery, because I will have fuckin’ earned it.