May 11, 2007

Back to School …

Last weekend started off great. The sun was shining. The birds were singing. The air was crisp and delightful. And I completely ignored all of it to watch our newly installed cable. I spent exactly three years, six months and four days with nothing but (gasp) network television and, somehow, lived to tell this story. Might as well have tied animal hide around my waist, stuck a club in my hand and called me a caveman.

I had planned to spend all day Saturday sitting on the couch, unshowered in my Homer boxers, flipping from station to station, pretending to watch the History channel but actually watching VH1's Celebrity Fit Club. (Forget about Cinco De Mayo—Marcia Brady is trying to lose some weight and needs my help!) I had been dreaming about this day ever since I placed the call to Time Warner. Then Brittany, like any loving and caring wife, ripped the dream out from under my nose by reminding me that we already had exciting plans: Birthing Class.

Now I've taken several classes in my life—economics, calculus, figure skating—and not one of them scared me as much as Birthing Class. For starters, none of them required my attendance on a Saturday morning, nor did their syllabi include such lectures as "Proper Nutrition for Newborns" or "How Babies Are Born—The Video." The class was an all-day event and cost us 100 smackaroos. For those of you unfamiliar, that's a lot of smackaroos!

We showed up at the hospital at the unreasonable hour of "before noon" and made our way to the classroom. There were 15 other couples joining us on the journey, and each one looked exactly the same: hair in a ponytail and pregnant for the wives, unshaven and "Oh- My- God- Is- That- Doctor- In- That- Poster- On- The- Wall- Going- To- Cut- Off- The- Tip- Of- That- Baby's- Penis" facial expression for the husbands. Each husband (including me) was carrying two pillows and a blanket—the required materials for the class. At first I thought they were for comfort, but upon further review I realized that their real purpose was for smothering the first woman who asked, "Can you repeat that part about the enema?"

During the first hour and a half of Birthing Class, a registered dietician explained the importance of finding good deals on diapers, knowing the difference in bottle nipples and how not-breastfeeding your child will make him Kevin Federline-stupid. This news terrified me, so I grabbed a piece of paper and a pen and took my first note of the class:

Brittany shall breastfeed until the kid is 20.

Next came The Video. It started off kind of slow with the dad-to-be sitting on a sofa, timing his wife's contractions. The next 25 minutes of the video were equally dull—call doctor, arrive at hospital, sit in room while mom-to-be writhes in pain. In fact, it was super boring. I'm no director, but if it was my video I'd change the setting to a cab or an airplane or a hockey game and have the wife screaming something silly like, "Are these leather seats waterproof?" Then, instead of reaching the hospital she'd somehow get trapped in an elevator with her husband who passes out and an incompetent teenager who rises to the occasion and delivers the baby.

Note number 2: Get car seats waterproofed.

Skip ahead to the actual birth. Her legs are behind her head, her gown is wide open and her fun zone has a baby's head exploding out of it. It wasn't the most pleasant thing to watch, but wasn't nearly as bad as I expected. If that's all it takes to have a baby, Brittany and I will be fine.

Moments later, everything changed.

I had survived breastfeeding talk. I had survived the birth. I had even survived the body odor of the guy sitting next to me. But then, the camera flashed back and this big bloody blob fell out of the mom.

"Did that woman's brain just fall out of her vagina?"

"It's her placenta," Brittany says. "It unites the fetus and the uterus and it's natural for it to fall out after birth."

With this little piece of information, I got up, went into the bathroom, threw up, washed my face, threw up again and tried to escape through the window. Unfortunately this must be a common reaction of husbands because there were breath mints on the sink counter and bars on the windows.

After that visual I don't remember much about the rest of the day. In fact, I spent most of my nights this week huddled in the corner of our bedroom, shaking and mumbling in incoherent sentence fragments, trying to get that image out of my head. It wasn't until I sat down to write this column that I finally snapped out of my funk and came to terms with the birthing process. Sure, it won't be easy to see my wife in so much pain, nor will it be easy for me to watch her push out a baby (among other things). But I want to be there for her and for the baby because, no matter how disgusting it seems, the end result is worth it.

Or, if I'm really lucky, I'll just pass out.


january said...

size of a watermelon > size of a lemon.

you do the math.

Will said...

Welcome to the wonderful world of cable.

Watch Spike... it's manly. Oh yeah Comedy Central is manly too.

Laurie said...

So brave! Even I want to avoid classes like that all cost when Dan and I have children:)

There's an America's Next Top Model marathon on VH1 on Saturday (12th) - you should totally watch!

ShannanB said...

Best part of lamaze class:
5-minute massage for husband;
20-minute massage for wife!

Check out Fox Reality! It will help you catch up on all those years of reality TV you missed out on!