Pre-natal classes provided us with all the knowledge we needed to get us to and through the birth process. In fact they provide far too much knowledge.
For instance, it is always a possibility that delivery may not go entirely to plan but did we really need an in-depth description of everything that could go wrong? True, forewarned is forearmed but not if it is going to give you nightmares. We knew there was considerable pain involved but did we actually need to watch a film of someone suffering it? Did we have to know that Small may rip apart his mother’s most sensitive parts requiring stitching after the delivery? Would it not have been better to have just dealt with those things if they occurred? I am sure that used to be the case. Now the legal profession seems to be set on suing the medical profession for not warning people when they suffer from a complication, even though they are commonplace.
In some respects this made pre-natal classes akin to torture. A professional torturer does not just arrive with a red hot iron and start poking about with it. Nor does he waltz in with a pair of bolt croppers and just snip his victim’s toe off. These are the actions of an amateur. A professional will take his time. He will show his victim some of his tools, close up, so they can see the bits of gore still mashed into the mechanisms. He will describe exactly what each tool does and then, if he is really good, he will leave his victim for a while to think about things. By the time he returns their mind will have conjured up a lot of unpleasant images and they will already be in a near broken state.
In the next session the torturer will move on to some of the more grisly tools at his disposal. The victim’s mind is now running very fast and can grasp exactly what they can do even before the torturer tells them. Again, he will be left to dwell.
And so on and so forth. By the time the torturer gets to the actual physical stuff the victim has already cracked.
Similarly, pre-natal classes and giving birth.
One of the benefits of pre-natal classes was the concept that we had time to plan for the birth. In fact, we were encouraged to have a written birth plan, setting out all kinds of details such as who going to partner the mother, how the mother would like the delivery to be made, what music the mother would like playing in the background and what sorts of pain relief she would prefer.
This must surely have been an exercise to occupy the mind and take it off of the torturer’s tools. Despite being an induced birth (and therefore booked) there was no room on the maternity ward at our hospital when Small 1 arrived. Being two floors away from the maternity ward, no pain relief, preferred or otherwise, was available. We were only wheeled into the delivery room five minutes before the birth so there was no question of music of any type (not that anyone would have been listening, it wasn’t exactly a cosy relaxed atmosphere). And in terms of who should be present – the room suddenly filled with gowned folk, bustling about in a very calm and assured (but nevertheless underlying anxious) way, when Small refused to come into the world and a Ventouse was needed to suck him out of his refuge.
It turned out it was a very busy night/morning at the local hospital. Three out of the five babies from our ante-natal classes were born within 2 hours of each other, despite being due over a 4 week spread. There were also twins from just down the road, which meant that when Small reached primary school there were 5 kids with the same birthday out of an unusually small class size of 15. There must have been some stars lined up or some such that night. Or something leaked into the local water supply.
Not so much a parenting guide full of advice, more the reality of parenting kids and being a house husband and father, written by a stay at home dad to three children.
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