GAR and I have been joking for months that, despite all the apprehension and nervousness we feel about becoming first-time parents, we really have but one mission to focus on (at first) – keep the baby alive.
I think that most new parents feel this way in the beginning. After all, newborns are so tiny and frail … and their head is still soft and squishy in parts … it’s hard not to think you’re for sure going to “break” him. I mean, what do I know about caring for another human’s life? You’re just going to let me walk out of this hospital with a fragile little baby and no training? Heck, I need a permit to go fishing but not to assume total responsibility for the health and well being of a defenseless infant? It’s just wrong! You are putting your trust into the wrong hands! I drop my cell phone 10 times a day and you’re handing me this wiggling thing? Bad idea mister. Bad idea.
It really is ridiculous if you think about it. There’s nothing that occurs during the 9 months I’m carrying this baby inside of me that in any way prepares me for what it will be like to actually care for this child once he’s out of the womb and in my arms. And yet people do it every day. People who are, as a general rule, often seemingly much LESS capable than I. People who qualify as adults merely due to their age in physical years, not in mental ones. And yet somehow, miraculously, their kids survive (I’m not saying they raise them well or serve as great role models or what have you – that is a post for another day – but in the sheer matter of keeping the baby alive they are able to succeed). So surely, SURELY, mine will too.
So perhaps babies are slightly more hearty and resilient than I imagine. Nonetheless, I do think it’s still my job to go ahead and educate myself on how to care for my baby now. This seems like the type of information I should know … even if, oddly, there is no law, rules or regulations requiring me to do so. I guess I’m just a real nerd like that. But it seems I’m not alone in my pursuit of knowledge on this topic. When I went online to sign up for prenatal classes at the hospital I found that they were booked for weeks to come. I am, it seems, dreadfully behind already!
Well, actually, that’s not exactly true. Not ALL of the classes were full. In fact, the “basic infant care” class which, per my reasons stated above, seems like to most critical one to take for first timers like GAR and myself, had lots of availability. Tons of openings. Apparently everyone else who’s pregnant knows exactly what they’re doing and thinks caring for a new swaddling dependent will be a breeze … a task that requires no training. No, in fact the class that was so full I had to schedule it a little too close to my due date for comfort is the all-day “childbirth preparation” class (though I am still uncertain why a class on giving birth, which is, relatively speaking, a fairly small part of the whole “having a child” equation is 8 hours and the class for actually caring for said baby in the months and years that follows is a mere 2 hours. But it’s not my place to question such things when I am, thus far, completely uninitiated into the club of people who know about this stuff).
This has led me to one, fairly major, conclusion – people are more concerned about physical labor pains than they are about the years of labor they’ll endure once that pain has passed. And by “concerned” I really mean “terrified.” Perhaps they’ve reached the same conclusion I have – that people everywhere manage to keep their kids alive, surely they can do the same. Perhaps they think they don’t need training for that part. But, if there’s one thing that every first time mother seems to be completely flabbergasted about it’s how she’s going to fit that giant (albeit squishy) head and broad shoulders through such a small opening … and how to minimize the pain and trauma it will surely bring about. And she wants as much information as possible about it.
But I don’t. Actually, the less I know the better. Now, it must be stated that I am not one who is of a delicate deposition. I am not too bothered by blood and pain and all the gross, horrifying stories people just love to tell you about childbirth. I am not naïve about it. I get it. I know what happens. I know it hurts like Hell. I am harboring no grand delusions about it. But, aside from the basics, I don’t really feel like I want to think about it too much in advance. The day will come when it must be done and, by the end of that day … or the next (or so) … it will be done. So why worry myself about it? I mean, one way or another that baby is coming out of me. And even if I have no clue what I’m doing, I will (lest I’m trapped due to a hurricane or some other unforeseen freak occurrence) be surrounded by trained professionals who DO know what they’re doing. And that’s a heck of a lot more than I can say for what things will be like once I check out of the hospital and GAR and I are truly on our own to figure this whole “parenting” thing out for ourselves.
So, while I am worried sick about how to care for a newborn, I am not too concerned about childbirth itself. In the grand scheme of things it’s really the very least of my worries (and, using my same logic as before, I’ve known plenty of true wimps who’ve made it through the ordeal just fine. If they can do it I am quite confident that I can as well). And, if I weren’t such a geek about being educated, I wouldn’t even take the childbirth class at all. I mean, why discuss and worry about things that are, to some degree, out of my control? But of course I signed us up anyway. You know, gotta learn all those breathing techniques that I’ll never actually be calm enough to perform when it comes time to use them. Heck, I’m sure we’ll be so rattled that I’ll be lucky if GAR even remembers how to drive me to the hospital when my water breaks (or doesn’t break – I’m sure I’ll learn all about what can, or may not, happen in my class). In this case, getting there really may be half the battle. So at least this class will, if nothing else, serve as a nice trial run for getting from our house to the hospital. And that’s almost worth the price of admission.
Plus, I am strangely curious to check out the food selection in the cafeteria. While it’s not exactly the same as checking into a luxury hotel for a couple days I know I will, at some point after I managed to get that baby out of me, be wanting to nosh on something. Now THAT is the part of childbirth that truly terrifies me – the cafeteria food!
Now if you’ll excuse me I’ve decided to start off this whole education business with a little private “at home” viewing of some DVDs I’ve been given. But, as I said, I’m really trying to stick to the ones that highlight how to care for an actual baby. I already watched a documentary that showed Ricki Lake’s natural homebirth. Like I said, I’m not too squeamish generally, but naked Ricki Lake truly is a sight that cannot be unseen. Wish me better luck with this batch of videos!