Sunday, October 22, 2006

Hear me meow

Ten minutes into the day-long intensive childbirth class we took yesterday, the instructor put this photo up on the screen. "What does this photo say to you?" she asked.

Silence, slightly bewildered looks.

"Come on, what does it say to you? Nothing?"

A few people offered half-hearted replies. (Well-trained dogs? A stupid cat?)

No, no, no. This picture was supposed to make us think of a strong, confident woman. And inspire us as we thought about birth, and our ability to get through it successfully.

Five minutes later, we were sitting on birthing balls getting our backs rubbed by our husbands, having been given absolutely no context on the process or progression of labor, physiological, emotional, or otherwise. That came about an hour later, after we covered what to pack for the hospital, were asked "What does a hospital johnny mean to you?" and two men were goaded into putting on empathy bellies and asked to bend over to tie their shoes for our amusement.

For my money -- $150 to be exact, most of which will fortunately be reimbursed by our health insurance -- a childbirth class is pretty important. They shouldn't let people with the competence of your average high school substitute teacher run them. No matter how long they've been an obstetric nurse, or how grandmotherly and warm they are, or how amusing their Boston accent may be.

I wouldn't say the day was a total loss; the tour of the maternity ward was good, and I liked getting my back rubbed by A. It's also been a long time since I had the fun of trying to suppress hysterical laughter, as I did as a result of the German shepherd / cat / I am woman moment. In fact, I'm considering printing out the picture and bringing it with me to have at the hospital while I labor. Laughter has got to be good for getting through contractions.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This looks like one of the google images that we pull to use in our middle school writing packets to motivate kids to write fun sentences, such as the following (fictionalized) example: The minute yet confident cat trotted by the sinister drooling dogs. Or: The oblivious cat trotted by the massive German Shepherds. [These really are the kinds of sentences they write--very fun to teach these kids.] As a childbirthing show of strength, I'd tend to agree with you. To be fair, we haven't had our childbirth class yet, so who knows what metaphors have yet to befall us.


11:39 AM  
Blogger Churlita said...

I tried to take the free childbirth classes the University offered here when I was pregnant the first time, but quit after the first one. Our nurse had the worst "um" saying habit and felt the need to use every second of the class even though she didn't have anything real to say. I was 26 and full of hormones and I just couldn't take it. At least your woman is funny - however unintentionally...

12:56 PM  
Blogger Larki said...

I used to teach childbirth classes, and you're right: you, the pregnant woman (and her partner) should leave them feeling confident about the normal course of pregnancy, labor and delivery, the options available for pain control, from breathing to epidurals, the indications for and basic information about C-sections, what to pack for the hospital, basic newborn care, basic breastfeeding, and where to go for help on all of the above. If you didn't get that, you was gypped, no matter how amusing the accent!

PS This is Bihari, in case you didn't know. I seem to have, like, three blogger display names going, for reasons too boring to delve into.

6:33 PM  
Blogger Jane said...

The funny thing is, I think the course actually did cover all of the things it should cover. It was just done in such a bizarre, random and disjointed fashion that it didn't feel that way.

5:32 PM  

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