I didn’t meet my husband until after college. I have friends who met their spouse or significant other in highschool or college.
That’s neat for them.
That was not my experience. So I have never seen my husband in a classroom environment.
We had our first birthing class this week, and it was everything I had dreamt it would be.
And my husband, while not the class clown he probably was in highschool, brought his A-Game to the class.
Walk into a room of expectant parents and you will be walking into a room full of nervous people. We don’t know what we’re about to learn and we don’t know if this class will somehow expose us as inadequate (or confirm how inadequate we might be feeling).
The tension is palpable.
Plus, class starts at 7 pm and goes for two hours. I’m not even confident I can stay awake for the whole thing.
I am fortunate to not be there alone. Not only do I have The Hubs at my side, but my dear friend LF is also knocked up and she’s due three days after we are. So I’m surrounded by people to make faces at and roll eyes at before, during and after.
The first thing we have to do is pick up a name tag and a baby.
Not a live, human baby. Just a doll wrapped in a pink or blue blanket. I pick up a baby of the pink-blanketed variety and immediately feel self-conscious about my baby holding skills. Am I being graded right now? Is this one of those babies they give highschool students that have the computer chip inside them to record and report any mistreatment??
We are, of course, judging all the other parents in the room. And they are likely judging us as well.
Some of the dads are trying to be friends with The Hubs. He’s already the cool kid in class.
Class Number One is all about newborn care. Our first activity is practicing changing a diaper and swaddling the doll. The Hubs takes charge. I sort of watch.
Fingers crossed this is how real diaper changing is. “Go ahead baby, it looks like you’ve got it.”
I’ve been told that if you can wrap a burrito then you can swaddle a baby.
Usually the stuff I’m putting in a burrito is not MOVING VOLUNTARILY.
The fact that I pack a lunch for my husband every morning that includes a meat and veggie wrap does not make me feel prepared for swaddling my baby. And the fact that my husband “palms the baby” to position her in the blanket just right doesn’t have me feeling particularly awesome about baby handling. Mine or his. “Palming” seems like a good strategy when dealing with a 2 pound plastic doll, but not when dealing with a squirming infant.
So far, I’m not picking up much of value.
Then the nurse teaching the class brings out the slide show and the huge laminated pictures. In trying to prepare us for the fact that our newborns won’t look like “Movie Newborns”, Teacher trots out all this mildly disturbing imagery of babies with cradle cap, baby acne, sucking blisters, smashed heads and missing chins.
There are some things that you would NEVER think about unless you were having a baby. One of them is the umbilical cord. Nobody teaches you in sex ed that your baby will have a crusty little umbilical stub for a few days after birth. My many pieces of prenatal literature have mentioned this, so I’m prepared.
This is news to the Hubs, however. And his face shows his displeasure.
His face says, “Uh, that is gross.”
I’m pretty sure baby’s first diaper will be pretty gross too. One of the pediatricians who came to speak to the class described baby’s first poop as “Black rubber cement.”
There is gonna be a whole lotta gross in our day-to-day for the next few months. I suppose it is good to be prepared. But seriously, what’s with all the scare tactics? My baby isn’t going to have cradle cab AND baby acne AND A sucking blister and a rubber cement filled diaper at the same time, right? Why do you have to freak me out?
The most valuable part of the first class was definitely the pediatricians who came to talk to us. They were a husband and wife team who share a practice and were right in line with me and Hubs as far as philosophy goes. Plus they told us about the “football hold” – which made me feel better about the earlier baby palming. So not only did we learn a thing or two, we got the names of the pediatricians we want to request when our daughter is born.
Birthing class isn’t a competition, but my husband and I are both pretty competitive and we will find a way to make anything into an “I’m better than you” situation if we can. For instance, the Apgar Score. We learned about the Apgar during class, the initial test of baby’s vitals to determine if you’ve got a healthy bambino on your hands. My husband and I immediately latch on this – “Is that like an SAT score? ITBS test?” We are totally going to brag about our baby’s Apgar score. “Yea, Baby Dub got a 10 on the Apgar. No biggy.”
Despite some of the disturbing imagery and graphic descriptions of baby’s first B.M., I left class with a good feeling overall. I didn’t drop the fake baby at any point. I learned a few things, but most of the stuff we covered was stuff I was familiar with and felt like I had a handle on. The only real curve ball was the umbilical cord thing, which I think the Hubs has since gotten over. Looking around at the faces of the other expectant parents, nobody seemed superiorly suited to parenthood. Nobody in there was ready, and neither are we.
And that’s okay. We have 5 more classes to go.