When Birthing Class Breaks Into Rival Factions, You Know Things Have Gotten Weird

September 28, 2012


We’ve gone to a few birthing classes at this point.  A lot of it is pretty unnecessary (“Really?  She shouldn’t be using street drugs while pregnant?  Not even meth?”), but there’s some good information and exercises, as well as going a long way to piercing the denial bubble the Byronic Wife has carefully maintained regarding giving birth.

The other couples run a big gamut, though.  We’ve kind of broken in to two camps – each on opposite sides of the big conference table.

First is Team Let’s Have A Baby!

“…and that’s the miracle of childbirth.”

First up is the couple I’d have to call “Grown-Up Cool.” – I like them a lot.  Outdoor clothes and attitudes to match.  Totally devoted to each other, taking notes, etc.  At one point the instructor was demonstrating the trajectory of the newborn during birth using an infant doll and a model of a pelvis.  She crammed the baby’s head in the pelvic bones, set it down and moved on.  “Excuse me,” the woman from this couple interjected.  “Is that to scale?  Because, I get it ‘magic of birth’ and all that – but that doesn’t fit.”

Next couple is “This is Gonna Be Exciting!” – a relentlessly positive couple who are definitely freaked, but are totally positive and going to have a baby who likely emerges smiling and singing a Disney song.

Finally, there’s us.  And we’re pretty great.

Then there’s the other side of the table:  Team Ah, Shit, You’re Pregnant?  There’s only two couples over there, but I swear it’s darker on that side of the room.  Sound has trouble escaping.

First up is a couple I call “Whoops, party’s over.”  Sulky, expressionless “Omigod, Becky” girl and hair-in-the-eyes dude-guy.  Frosted hair, surfer jeans, nicely done nails.  Who knows what their story really is, but you can really see the trajectory of “Whooo! We’re all doing Jell-o shots!” to “Um, maybe that one’s a false positive, too?”.  During breathing exercises he’s usually texting; during the videos she is.

But they’re destined to be parents of the year next to the couple my wife has dubbed “The Toxic Waste Dumps.”

No, no, go on. It’s fascinating how much your life sucks.

Everything is harder for this couple.  Everything’s terrible.  If someone’s back hurts, hers hurts worse.  Every symptom the instructor mentions, she’s got.  She’s only 18 weeks pregnant, but she’s uncomfortable all the time and her feet are in bad shape and, man, she just doesn’t know…  I think all the women who have reached the “waddle” stage would belt her except for the strain involved.  When asked about our thoughts on giving birth, amidst our cautious optimism and faith in the female body she had to add, “I’m expecting the worst, so I won’t be let down.”  Yeesh.  That’s the spirit.  Her husband seems less toxic, but can only stay interested for short stretches.  During Lamaze practice when the women were on their hands and knees doing back stretches he had his hand on his wife’s back like he was supposed to, but his eyes were fixed firmly on the butt of “Whoops, Party’s Over” girl.

Checking someone out in birthing class.  Now that, my friends, is class.

So, we’re learning a lot about stretching and staying calm and making weird mooing sounds… but we’re also learning a lot about who we’re looking up for play dates.

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About The Byronic Man

Recently voted "The Best Humor Site in America That I, Personally, Write," The Byronic Man is sometimes fiction, but sometimes autobiography. And sometimes cultural criticism. Oh, and occasionally reviews. Okay, it's all those different things, but always humorous. Except on the occasions that it's not. Ah, geez. Look, it's a lot of things, okay? You might like it, is the point.

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82 Comments on “When Birthing Class Breaks Into Rival Factions, You Know Things Have Gotten Weird”

  1. Renée A. Schuls-Jacobson Says:

    Dude, do not get me started. Pregnancy sucks hard for some women. If your wife is smiling, consider yourself blessed.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Obviously, pregnancy can be brutally tough, I’m not suggesting otherwise. But this woman is definitely of a certain personality type. Even if her back is aching that badly, despite the fact that she’s really not even showing yet, it’s more her need to derail every conversation to herself, and to one-up anything anyone says, including the instructor.

      If the instructor mentions “Some women experience X” she’ll interrupt to tell everyone that she’s experiencing X far worse than anything the instructor is describing.


      • Renée A. Schuls-Jacobson Says:

        There’s always one of those.

        I might have been one of those.

        But then I delivered TechSupport without any pain medication. Via vacuum extraction. Oh, and I lost 75% of my blood when my placenta didn’t retract.

        So yeah, people stopped questioning me when I said my pregnancy sucked.


      • melissakoski Says:

        I have a brother like that… a “top it” kind of guy. Reading this brought me right back to the class we took over a decade ago. It hasn’t changed a bit.


  2. susielindau Says:

    It’s funny how many years it has been since I went through this, but it seems nothing has changed. We had a cigarette smoker pregnant lady in our group and I ran into her after we both had given birth. She was so surprised at how small her baby was. I learned early on to smile and play dumb.


  3. wildramp Says:

    Having done thru 3 (youngest is 18) I can tell you that learning the physical action for delivery is good to know but nothing compared to parenting. Have fun!


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      I’m treating everything like preparing for a trip, or battle, or something: plan, and adapt when the plan inevitably falls short.


      • wildramp Says:

        Ok, remember to keep your sense of humor (may not be an issue for you there until 6 months of short sleep adds up) and read some parenting books. I recommend STEP (Systematic Training for Effective Parenting) which helps set up a good communication system in the family


  4. artzent Says:

    Oh, you are just getting started. wait until the baby comes and the sleep deprived parents have second thoughts! LOL


  5. Alt-Shift-Enter Says:

    “Team Ah, Shit, You’re Pregnant?” – brilliant description.


    • Deborah the Closet Monster Says:


      Also, BM: I would like to add that when I had to go in for an exam (due to early contractions), I heard a woman screaming. Ear-splitting, heart-rending stuff. I said to my nurse, “Holy shit, I am looking forward to labor even less now.”

      The nurse started laughing. “Oh, no, hon. She just did the same test you did.”

      “No way! In that case, I hope I won’t be here when she does go into labor.”

      Experience, as you drove at here, is definitely subjective!


      • The Byronic Man Says:

        Some people handle pain… differently… don’t they? I remember being at the ER many years ago for problems I was having with my throat and someone screaming bloody murder in the other room, and I said something about “You can see to her first” and the admitting nurse just rolled her eyes and said, “You’re in much more urgent need than she is. She’s here all the time.”


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Thanks! I’m making them shirts. They probably won’t even say thanks…


  6. Eagle-Eyed Editor Says:

    *whoops with laughter at post* I helped with the delivery of two kids and it’s definitely an experience that defines who somebody is, even if they’re NOT the one giving birth.

    Looking forward to hearing about the munchkin’s antics in future posts. I suspect there’s lots of comic material there.

    Wishing you and Mrs. B-Man the best. 🙂


  7. Go Jules Go Says:

    Well now you guys are just in for it and you have no idea and let me just tell you how tired you’re going to be and nothing can prepare you…


    And okay. Skipping over the Jell-O Hot Shots (Sorry. I wanted to name a couple, too), even that cat picture and the Grown-Up Cool couple don’t make up for Mr. Toxic Waste Dump and his wandering eye. Holy chipmunks!


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      “The Jell-O Hot Shots” is pretty good. That’d be a good name for a band, too.

      Someone checked out my butt too, but that’s different because I was wearing my cool, expensive jeans so how could it be helped? (note: nothing in that sentence is true)


  8. tinkerbelle86 Says:

    No meth? those midwives say the darndest things…..


  9. Life With The Top Down Says:

    Wow did you bring back a therapy session, oops I meant memory. We dropped out of class due to my husband’s comment to the toxic mother to be in our group. He couldn’t stand it and just blurted out ” will you stop complaining there are women who give birth in fields and finish out the work day…shut up.” Honestly, we all thought it, but he was still lucky to get out alive with all those hormones. I had a C-section in the end.
    I’m always sending for wife good vibes for her pregnancy, glad to know she is receiving them. I can’t wait to hear about the arrival!


  10. mona Says:

    It is wrong that I can’t wait to hear your take on the mommy wars? As a standing referee between two sisters with wildly different parenting styles, I chortle at a possible Byronic treatment of a topic where anyone regardless of relationship or expertise is allowed to judge you aggressively.

    “You’re a parent? Well, let me tell you how you’re doing everything wrong.”


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      There have been a lot of warnings about that. Including some physically aggressive intrusion stories on the “thumb-sucking” issue. I’m preparing my calm-but-assertive responses in advance. Avoid traumatizing the baby.


  11. Michael Says:

    “Sulky, expressionless “Omigod, Becky” girl and hair-in-the-eyes dude-guy.” …may I just say, I love that description. It’s perfect. I think I’ve seen those people, probably in Wal-Mart. Also, maybe it IS darker on that side of the room. You don’t know the power of the Dark Side.


    • Go Jules Go Says:

      *nodding at all of this*

      Right on, Michael. And looking at your current gravatar…Can you draw a Superman logo with other letters? Like, say, a “B”? Just wondering.


      • Michael Says:

        I expect one could; I’ve seen variations of the Superman shield with other designs inside, representing different houses. I think Jor-El had this little 8 inside, if I recall right from Smallville.


  12. Don't Quote Lily Says:

    Haha –> Team Ah, Shit, You’re Pregnant?
    When the baby comes, I can just imagine the stories you’ll have for us then. 😀


  13. Luddy's Lens Says:

    Listen, when Mrs. Toxic Waste Dump starts preemptively going negative on her future experience of labor and delivery, you send that wimp over to me:

    65 hours, b*tch. Sixty. Five. Hours.

    My son actually brags about it.


  14. Elyse Says:

    I’m pretty sure I could handle the Toxic couple, and the “Whoops, Party’s Over” girl, but please smack that elentlessly positive couple for me.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      They’re actually not nearly as grating as you might expect. I’d think they’d be the one’s to drive me nuts, too, but they’re also just right up front with the accompanying nervousness, which makes it strangely endearing.


  15. Carrie Rubin Says:

    I’m embarrassed to say I was a birthing class drop-out. I made it two sessions and just couldn’t take it anymore. The obvious anti-epidural slant, the back rubbing in public, the videos of babies “crawling” up mom’s naked body to nurse–sorry, not for me. So I’m impressed with your fortitude.

    For the record, I’d love to have dinner with that last couple. I’m sure they would be nothing but laughs.

    Great post!


  16. whatevertheyaint Says:

    I can always count on you to make me laugh. Your description of the others is hilarious! We had a hypochondriac in our class. Everything was a “but what if the baby…!” Or, “omg, there’s no way I’m letting my baby…” I wonder how that turned out. Poor kid probably can’t even touch his own clothes without mommy dishing out germ-x.


  17. Laura Says:

    Not even meth? Really? That does it — I’m never getting pregnant.


  18. Love & Lunchmeat Says:

    I have no memory whatsoever of birthing class, except that the nurse who taught it told us to leave the hospital bags in the car and bring them in later. And guess who didn’t remember to bring the bags in later? Way to make the unpleasant postpartum period even more unpleasant. I was ready to kill my husband when he finally brought the bag in the following day at noon. (Yes, there was a snowstorm that night, and he had to spend the morning shoveling out the driveway in order to drive the bag back to the hospital.)

    Thanks so much Nurse Rached. Honestly, I don’t think birthing classes are that great. You think you’re prepared, but…. ultimately, whatever happens, happens.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      We waited a lot longer than you’re supposed to to start because we just kept feeling like they were going to tell us things we already knew and had read about. There’s been some good information, so I’m glad we’re going, but it’s true – nothing’s going to make me feel “Ready.”


  19. leahguinn Says:

    I didn’t pay much attention during c-section night. Ha. Ha. Hahahahahahahahahaha!


  20. 23thorns Says:

    We never went to any classes, but somehow the little buggers turned up anyway!


  21. blissflower1969 Says:

    All I can think about is how miserable Toxic Waste’s kid is going to be. Because if that’s the stuff she feels comfortable sharing with strangers, can you imagine the crap she shares with the ones she loves?

    You should be nice a start a therapy fund for it.


  22. jubilare Says:

    A close friend of mine is a midwife. She has had women texting while giving birth. I can’t help but laugh. It takes all sorts to make a variety of new people, I guess.


  23. Jill Pinnella Corso Says:

    You make me fear childbirth / look forward to good blog material.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      All life experiences now go through the filter of “But will it provide me with writing material?”


      • Jill Pinnella Corso Says:

        Me too! I hope that doesn’t make me disingenuous. I didn’t mention in my last post that half the reason I went to the *charity walk* was for blog material. Ok, I’ve mentally tsk’d myself, moving on…


  24. My Ox is a Moron Says:

    LOL, that’s a hoot. I had private birthding classes. Not because I’m a snob, but because my mother taught. I think I missed out on something not having others in my class.


  25. 1pointperspective Says:

    Our Lamaze class, 28 years or so ago, was taught in the home of a quasi-hippie couple in Eugene when i was in grad school. The woman who taught it was very much the anti-authority type and if she had her way, the women in the class would have given birth in the privacy and discomfort of their own bathtubs with a shaman on hand to burn some sage if things got rocky. My wife was an ICU nurse at the time, and the healthcare bashing by the lamaze hippiechick teacher eventually caused some sparks to fly….

    I could go on and on, but I’ll spare you…


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Someone recommended a documentary to us that was all about how hospitals hate women and drug the babies and will break in to your house and steal your stuff while you’re in labor and on and on and on… But at home with a kiddie pool and a midwife birth is painless and takes about 4 minutes, start to finish.

      I like the midwife idea, don’t get me wrong, but the documentary was so over the top it lost all impact.


  26. speaker7 Says:

    Ah yes, the birthing class. Fond memories. Or not.


  27. k8edid Says:

    I passed out during the tour of the delivery room when someone picked up a forcep. I did not return for further classes. During actual labor I could hear someone cursing like a drunken sailor…oh, wait…that was me.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      The birthing center here is great. Very calm and soothing. Our doctor, though, is the highest energy person I’ve ever met. We love her, but I’m worried that after a couple minutes she’ll decide she’s bored and just go in after the baby.

      At our last appointment she finished what she was saying as she walked out the door and said goodbye, then as we walked to the exit we saw her typing up her notes… while sitting on a stationary bike and pedaling away. No, I’m not kidding.


  28. Wilma Says:

    I’m so glad my birthing years are behind me. I’d have to have some fun with the Toxic Waste Dumps. I have to see how many negative things I could say to them during class to test how low they would go in trying to one up me.

    The truth of the matter is: all you really need to know is how NOT to hold the Byronic Wife’s hand during delivery. She will crush you!


  29. benzeknees Says:

    All the stuff you take in during birthing class – some of it will help, some of it won’t. Whatever works for your wife will be best for her. My very best wishes for an easy, uncomplicated birth.


  30. Valentine Logar Says:

    One of my sisters went into labor at home, she planned on giving birth at home with a mid-wife but wasn’t due for another couple of weeks. I was the visiting the island that day, I called the mid-wife, she was out at another delivery. I called my mom and my sisters husband, they were uptown at the bar, she was in labor 18 hours with the last one they weren’t worried. I made up the bed and my sister laid down and said “I am having the baby now!”

    I called 911. They said check to see if the baby is crowning, then they explained what that meant. I said, oh hell no, just get here cause she says the baby is coming now and she is pushing.

    They got there 3 minutes later. My nephew arrived five minutes after that. My mother and my sisters husband arrived ten minutes after that. Her entire labor, less than 1 hour.


  31. She's a Maineiac Says:

    My birthing classes were all a blur. Except for this one girl who was always way too giddy with excitement about everything and kept blabbing on and on about how she wouldn’t use an epidural and it would be all-natural and then she ended up begging for the epidural after 10 minutes and after 24 hours of head-spinning, expletive-filled labor, got an emergency c-section.

    Oh, wait. That was me.


  32. pithypants Says:

    This is *almost* enough to make me want to have a baby: for the blog fodder. It contains all of the comedic possibilities of yoga class, but with a couples dynamic and raging hormones. Might be worth faking a pregnancy just so I can take notes.


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