For the past few weeks, Jameelah and I have been attending childbirth classes, because we don’t know nothing about birthing no babies when it comes to baby birthing. These classes last 3 hours each, and there are 8 sessions. At first I was resistant. I mean, look, the human race has been giving birth for millennia. Do I really need 8 weeks of training for something so natural? Especially when it is smack in the middle of new episodes of Arrow? But after much consideration for my wife and unborn son…I was still resistant.
But as I’ve stated, there is little arguing with a pregnant woman, so seeing her reach around for a tortilla chip or some other sharp pregnancy snack to injure me with, I acquiesced. The class is held in a midwife’s living room, a cozy place surrounded by lanterns and new-age art depicting chakras and rainbows and crap like that. There are eight other couples in the class. The women, all in maternity clothes, sat next to their partners, who looked around in a state of stunned hyper vigilance.
We have been learning all sorts of fascinating and educational stuff. And by fascinating and educational, I mean gross and horrifying. At first, it wasn’t so bad. Our instructor threw around horrible sounding concepts like “bloody show” and “mucus plug” and “meconium.” Luckily there was also a plush placenta, which was soft and looked snuggly. We had to learn breathing techniques and how to massage our partners during contractions, which I am imagining as bouts of the baby running a jackhammer inside the uterus in an attempt to break free.
“All right,” said our instructor, “now using downward motions, rub your partner’s back, melding with her rhythm…excellent. Now move on to her feet and massage them as she breathes.” We learned several different techniques, and my arms got tired. “So when do we reciprocate?” I asked, “between contractions? Because this is not fair that only she gets a massage.” The guys nodded in agreement, but the instructor was obviously sexist and only wanted to focus on the comfort of the women.
By session two, we had gotten the breathing and massages down pretty well, and I was feeling confident. “Bring on the bloody show,” I was thinking, which I immediately regretted. They put on a video. We guys could feel something was happening and instinctively covered our groins. I remember watching one of these videos in 8th grade health class. It was traumatizing and for a month the boys and girls stayed away from each other. Much older now, I thought I could handle a simple video of the beautiful miracle that is life.
It was awful. The miracle of life is horrifying. It was like witnessing a hole opening in the fabric of time and space, and some alien creature emerging from a different dimension. The baby’s head was huge and chalky white, and the woman looked like she was in unbelievable pain. I know pain; I stubbed my toe on a couch leg once. The baby’s shoulders and the rest of him came, all asbestos white, covered in goop, so, so much goop. The lights in the delivery room started flickering, objects started levitating into the air, and a priest held up a cross and screamed “Back! Back to the abyss from whence ye spawned!”
OK, I might have exaggerated that part a little. But then, just when you thought it was over, the placenta came! The only image more horrifying than a baby being born, is the placenta. It was nothing like the snuggly plush demo placenta. It was blood red and pulsating like a slab of raw venison.
During the break after the video, we guys stood around the snack table to support one another. We looked at each other and felt a sort of bond experienced by soldiers who went through a battle together. These classes are quite an ordeal, but we fathers-to-be are learning a lot of important stuff about the baby birthing process. Mainly, that we are glad we’re not the ones doing it. And also, that we’ll be taking turns bringing hard liquor to these classes.