If anything is going to make imminent parenthood feel more real then anything has previously, then attending your first antenatal class together as a couple will do it. And last week, that’s what hubby and I did.
I’d had very mixed feeling about what type of class to attend. I wasn’t sure if I was going to bother at all. I have a fear of baby books bombarding me with a million different opinions and I thought the NCT classes might be the same. I asked lots of friends with babies what they thought and pretty much everyone said the same – what you learn about the actual birth you can learn in a book or read on the internet, but what you get is a network of mum’s who are all having babies for the first time at the same time and this, they said, is invaluable.
I still wasn’t totally convinced. Perhaps it’s the group thing (first day at yoga still haunts me) and everyone sitting around with their breasts out discussing the trials and tribulations of getting their child to ‘latch on’ (again my over active imagination taking centre stage). I also wasn’t sure I’d ‘meet friends for life’ as so many others have. Call me cynical, but being put into a situation and forced to make friends because you’re having a baby doesn’t feel like the most natural way to start a friendship. Or maybe that’s just me.
So, anyway, I did some research very early in my pregnancy and looked at the various options as I figured I’d rather regret doing it than regret not doing it. And who knows? I could meet some amazing people.
I ruled out the antenatal classes at the hospital pretty early on. I have nothing against the NHS, but when speaking to a midwife she told me there could sometimes be up to 50 in a group and given what we’d be discussing, I’d rather something more intimate. Plus I wasn’t sure I’d meet my new ‘baby best friend’ in such a situation. I also fear anything where I may have to speak in front of a large group of strangers. Basically this would be my idea of hell.
Next I got to NCT classes and I’m not sure why, but they simply didn’t feel right. They are also pretty expensive which I don’t think is fair to the majority of women in this country. ‘Come and learn all you need to know about becoming a first time mum, but only if you can afford it. ‘
Then I came across a lady in Hackney who runs private parenting classes, which are similar to NCT, but which are combined with yoga. She came so highly recommended from the font of all knowledge that is Mumsnet that I felt drawn to them.
If you read my blog you will know how my first yoga experience went, but since then I have grown to love it and the teacher taking the class. It’s been great to have already spent a bit of time getting to know the girls in my group through yoga and when we started the parenting classes last week I didn’t feel as terrified or as nervous as I normally would in that type of situation.
Don’t get me wrong, I was still very apprehensive ahead of our first class. I was also feeling nervous for hubby as he really didn’t know what to expect and if my first day at yoga was anything to go by he was in for a treat…
We arrive first as we so often do. I hate lateness. My baby has no option but to arrive on time. If he / she is late I will seriously question whether it is actually mine.
So, as I was saying, we arrive first and head up to the room. Hubby has been here once before, when we heard some new mothers’ birth stories. That was not a fun evening for him. He does not have happy memories of this room. We both take our seats on the cushions that are placed around the edge of the room. Thankfully this time he’s not sitting against a chair leg. He’s smiling, this is good.
Slowly everyone else starts to arrive and we’re sat next to a couple that we had seen the previous week on the tour of the maternity unit. It feels like we have allies. Man of that couple looks so terrified about what the evening may hold I think it relaxes hubby even more. That is, until everyone arrives and the dreaded sentence is repeated,“so lets go round the room and I’d like to hear from everyone how the pregnancy has been for you and what you expect from the classes”. Why?! Why oh why does there always have to be talking?! Can’t we just look at pictures of babies coming out of vaginas and go home?!
Luckily we’re second so there isn’t the painful wait to get through 16 people and as quickly as it starts it’s over. Hubby, sounding much more articulate than me goes first and then I babble something that I’m pretty sure doesn’t make sense and it’s on to the next person. This time thought I have him for reassurance. “Did it sound ok? Did I make sense?” I whisper out of the side of my mouth. “Yes you were fine”. I hate the word ‘fine’.
Then, and I knew it was coming, it was time for the breathing exercises. Obviously I have been doing this for weeks in Yoga and have got over the embarrassment of making what sound like animal noises in a room full of people. Hubby has not.
I can feel him physically clenching beside me as we’re encouraged to “make whatever noise comes naturally”. It is at this point I’m biting the inside of my mouth to stop myself from laughing out loud. I open one eye and I’m pretty sure I see grins on a few of the men’s faces. Ok, perhaps I am really immature, but it’s such an unnatural situation it’s really hard to take it seriously.
I mentally berate myself for being childish and slowly start to relax whilst hubby also seems to. The noises have stopped and we’re all asked to “open and stretch the mouth” as a way of relaxing our facial muscles. As we’re doing this I can sense the room is more comfortable. No one is having to groan next to a stranger and no one is concerned about being the loudest in the room. That is until we’re told that the mouth represents the vagina and that by relaxing it during labour our vagina’s will be more open. No matter how relaxed hubby is, I can’t really envisage him imaging his mouth is opening like my cervix. I swear the majority of people are silently crying with laughter.
Finally we get to the diagrams of the birth. They’re pretty detailed, but after Vaginagate, I think we could be shown anything and be comfortable with it. Bring on this week. I can’t wait to find out what my nostril might represent