Snarky newcomer opines, basely

Dan handling

Posted 10/24/23

At our premarital counseling, the Rev. Butz peered at me and my soon-to-be-husband Mark and said, “You know, not having children is always an option.”

We ignored his well meaning …

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Snarky newcomer opines, basely

Dan handling


At our premarital counseling, the Rev. Butz peered at me and my soon-to-be-husband Mark and said, “You know, not having children is always an option.”

We ignored his well meaning hints, and three years later I found myself waiting for Mark so we could attend our last natural childbirth class at the Seventh Day Adventists’ college down the block. 

The class was specially designed for midwife-attended births, at home or at a birthing center. I had hoped we were going to get actual instruction on the Lamaze system this lesson, since the first seven sessions had to have exhausted the students’ stories of their previous births. (One mom in the class had said “It was like tripping.” Ewww.) We hadn’t quite gotten to the breathing part yet. 

I was not into natural childbirth for its philosophy, but because I hated hospitals and didn’t want to endure the gamut of modern medicine—by which of course I mean enemas—for what was after all a pretty common event.

The other students were frighteningly nurturing. Some were planning on festive home births. Guitars! Vegan hors d’oeuvres! Neighbors dropping in! Sing-alongs! We had not bonded. I didn’t want birth to be a communal event any more than its inception had been. Our home was a small apartment which didn’t allow kids. We were going to go to the birthing center without friends, mothers or in-laws. 

Dutifully, my husband Mark came to the classes, but like the proverbial horse brought to water, he was not thirsty for effusive discussions of placentas. 

I had made snacks for the class while I was waiting for him to get home from work. This crowd wouldn’t have gone for my specialty, saturated fat and refined sugar-laden chocolate-iced yellow cupcakes, so I had hidden the fat and sugar underneath a facade of vegetable goodness and made carrot cake. The baking had been really awkward, bending and taking the pans in and out of the oven. All of my innards seemed to be complaining. 

Now when it was time for class—where we were headed a few paragraphs ago—Mark wasn’t home with the car and I didn’t feel up to going by myself, so I just waited, grumpier and grumpier, and more and more uncomfortable as the evening wore on. 

We got to the class about an hour late. The other moms-to-be were a-twitter. “Oh! You’ll be so disappointed! You missed it! We had a TV crew from Channel 7 here! They filmed the class for a story on home births!” 

I was very, very happy to have missed the television crew. Not only did I shudder to think of being videoed, all squatting, bulbous tummy between splayed out legs like a pithed frog, I couldn’t imagine that anyone would want to see that on their evening news over their lightly sautéed chicken breasts. 

The other parents were thrilled to think they might be on television, while I, heavily pregnant, crampy, might have transformed into Russell Crowe if someone had tried to record me. 

“Childbirth without Fear” might have been thrown. 

Carrot cake might have been smeared on the camera lens. 

The class finished without much more information, everyone a bit too giddy about the publicity to have thought about getting down to the details of what to expect and do during birth, and we went home. Mark went to bed, but I had decided that if the discomfort/excruciating pain which just kept getting worse all day wasn’t labor, I wasn’t going to do labor. 

After a couple more hours, I woke Mark and convinced him to take me to the birthing center. The midwife agreed this was not a false alarm, and after settling us in, offhandedly mentioned “Channel 7 is doing a series on non-traditional births and would like to record one. Are you willing to have them come and film? They will be very discreet and they’d even give you a copy of the video so you would have a record for posterity!” 

She didn’t press us when we refused.

So our first child, Dan, was born. He wasn’t what I had expected. I had been my mom’s blond-haired, blue-eyed princess, so when I gave birth to this black-eyed, black-haired boy, I was startled. He kept looking at me, just looking and looking around with dark dark eyes, eyes that black holes couldn’t match for their depth and mystery. 

A couple of days later, the midwife called and asked us to bring him in to see how he was doing. “Do you like him yet?”

Well. We like him OK, I guess.

The midwife shook her head at me. “It was such an easy birth,” she said. “It’s really a shame you didn’t let Channel 7 film it"

snarky newcomer, opines, basely, childbirth


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  • stellman1

    Before our first child was born we also attended LaMaze classes. An unexpected traffic jam made us late for one session. We arrived just in time to watch the instructor squeeze the sleeve of a sweater, out of which popped a big yellow grapefruit. My wife and I looked at each other and said, almost simultaneously, "All that effort just for a grapefruit?"

    Sunday, October 29, 2023 Report this