Thursday, January 24, 2013
Prenatal Classes - a Horror Story
You might want to think about signing up for prenatal classes now since many areas get filled up well in advance.
Pregnancy Day By Day, 17 weeks and 6 days
One thing that I have absolutely no doubt about is that I will not be signing up for prenatal classes. Not now, not later, not ever. I have attended them when I was pregnant with Kai. I still can't decide which description fits them best - amusing or horrifying. They were certainly educational. If you are pregnant with your first child, please, stop reading this post and go sign up for a class. You should know what you are getting into. It's going to scare the crap out of you, but at least you won't be caught off guard.
Prenatal classes help to prepare you for the birth of your baby. You'll learn about the signs that you are in labor; breathing and relaxation techniques; pain relief options; and medical interventions.
I took my prenatal class at the University Hospital in Salt Lake City. I did indeed learn about all of the above. I mainly learned it from movies that were shown to us. The movies were filmed sometime in the eighties. You could tell by hairstyles and outfits. Those alone were scary enough. (Probably the only scarier thing I can think of is that they were recent, which would mean some people still own hair and clothes like that.). But then we watched these women screaming their heads off, sweating and panting, while their partners with mustaches and wayfarer glasses patted them nervously on their arms.
They showed us how babies are born. From the angle that doctors see it. Or whoever happens to be on the receiving end. I am still disturbed. I think there is a good reason for a human body to be built so that you can't see what is happening between your legs, unless you get a mirror. Which is what I was offered while in labor. A nurse told me that the baby was crowning and asked if I wanted to see it in the mirror. If I wasn't too busy pushing, I would have probably asked her if she was completely out of her mind, but I had to preserve my breath, so I just yelled "NO!". I didn't yell because I was in pain - I got an epidural - I yelled to make sure she understood that the last thing in the world that I cared to see was the battlefield between my legs. She seemed surprised and told me I can touch the head if I wanted to. I considered walking away from this conversation, because we were clearly not understanding each other, but I had a kid stuck halfway between in and out. I yelled "NO!" again and just pushed him out right then, so that we were done before she could come up with another brilliant idea.
Classes are a great way to meet other expectant parents, and by doing so you'll gain an invaluable mutual support system through the rest of your pregnancy and the early weeks of parenting.
About that. The only thing you have in common with those people is that you happened to get knocked up in the same month(s). If you join a book club, at least you know you all like reading and there is a good chance there will be at least one book you can agree was excellent and can talk about. Getting pregnant is not a hobby. At least not a mainstream one. You sit there with strangers terrorized by the images on the screen, unable to speak after the credits roll, looking around thinking the only good idea is to run away. It's difficult to bond under those circumstances. At least for me.
The significant role fathers can play during labor and in the early weeks of parenting is widely acknowledged and as a result prenatal classes have become much more father-friendly.
I was thankful my husband was a doctor and had seen it all before. Those poor dudes were turning green learning about their significant roles in labor and I could not blame them. I didn't go as far as feeling sorry for them, because in the end, it's still not them who has to grow this thing and get it out, but I very much shared the emotions that their faces reflected.
If you are pregnant with your first child, you were not supposed to read this (I warned you). If you have been through the prenatal classes before, you probably understand that this time around I will be skipping them and watching Dancing with the Stars or Project Runway instead.
PS: The prenatal classes were very informative and the instructor was great. My overall experience with the University Hospital in Salt Lake City was as good as it gets. I am hoping my second birth will be such a positive experience as my first one was - all the personnel was amazing, supportive and incredibly helpful.