Last night Kate and I went to our first birthing class. Like most dads I was nervous because you do kinda feel like a wolf among the sheep (or was I a sheep among the wolves?) in a class room with other pregnant couples. Everyone is sizing everyone up. Analyzing the relationship. Looking at the dads and wondering “what kind of dad will he be?” Us dads lose a little bit of our identity…we are now referred to as “support.”
What? Support? But I’m an Alpha!
You are support.
Okay. Fine. But I’m an Alpha support ninja!
Sure you are.
I quickly found out that I’m the d-bag every dad-to-be hates in these classes. I’m the “over achiever.” I am involved in my pregnancy. I am more than support, I am part of a two person team that is well read, prepared, and emotionally advanced. I’m not saying I’m better, absolutely not. However, I am an active member of this pregnancy and am prepared to share any emotional responsibilities and whatever physical responsibilities I can.
We watched a video about the need to communicate with your partner. Kate is my best friend and we share everything with each other: the good and the bad. I looked around the room and quickly figured out why all the books I have read talk to me like I’m an idiot. There were 5 other Dads:
- Dad 1 was too busy with work to attend any of the classes, his wife would have no partner for any of the exercises we will practice over the next 6 weeks
- Dad 2 was incapable of vocally participating with the group and seemed to pretty much be a pack mule
- Dad 3 was just realizing the reality of the fact that his wife was having a baby (you are too buddy) and looked in over his head
- Dad 4 may have smoked a fat joint before the class
- Dad 5 was clearly dragged from the couch and would rather be watching NASCAR
Kate chuckled a bit during the video and squeezed my hand, we knew we were being cynical but there was so much to talk about and laugh over after the class. Then the video shifted over to a live birth. The mood of the roof shifted as well. The baby came out, the woman screamed, and the dad cheered. Kate and I glanced at each other. Yup…both crying with excitement. The room? Slightly shocked and uneasy.
The coach opened up the room to questions and discussions. The dads had nothing to say. I asked about monitoring contractions and vocalized that I had thought I was supposed to measure the time between one contraction’s ending and the next’s beginning when the video had shown I need to measure from the beginning of one to the beginning of the next. We discussed the squatting position the woman in the video was in when she gave birth (which is what Kate has been saying for the past months is how she wants to be). Questions about laying on your back and getting an epidural came from the group. Kate and I squeezed each other’s hands again. We don’t want to result straight to an epidural – we want to both be as aware as possible so Kate can be in any position that is working for her and so we can begin breast-feeding immediately. Of course time will tell and who knows what Kate will want when the time comes.
We then moved on to stretching and breathing. Without getting too detailed its pretty much the same stuff Kate and I have been doing for years in yoga and panic attack management. However, the practice of it is good as it trains your body to automatically breathe through the pain. We all tried out some different couples stretching and relaxing positions. Dad 3 stood over his wife and watched like Ricky Bobby getting interviewed on Talladega Nights,
“I’m not sure what to do with my hands.”
A few breathing assignments later and we were in the car discussing the class and our classmates en route to Spangles for Butterfinger Caramel Mud Slides! “Good job!” Kate said and laughed out loud. We couldn’t believe how detached the other dads were from their pregnancy! We also found out that we both nicknamed Dad 2 “Wolfman” inside our heads. Like I said…we are good at communicating. Everything brought me back to one of the very first posts on this blog where I had read that dads-to-be don’t become dads until they hold the baby while moms-to-be become moms the moment they find out they are pregnant. I disagreed with that stat for me and still reject it entirely. I’ve been a dad for over 6 months now and being in that emotional state has allowed me the ability to share this experience with my wife. This class is helping me prepare for what will physically happen in January but Kate and I together are prepared to tackle anything emotional as a team. If you are a dad-to-be…you are a dad. Be part of YOUR pregnancy. Don’t run in from the sidelines to be support, you are missing out on one fo the greatest things that can happen to you in life.