I have no class

16Jul08

We’re finally done with our birth class. We’ve actually been done for a couple of weeks now, but I wanted to let the experience sink in before I wrote about it here, in the hope I’d demonstrate a bit more restraint in my recollection and appear to be a more reasonable and patient man than I am.

No dice. I’m going with what I’ve got, at the risk you’ll think me a misanthrope.

So it was six weeks long, once a week, for two hours per session. That’s twelve hours of instruction on pregnancy, labor, delivery and early infant care. There was definitely some good information in there. But if I could teach the class to my former self of eight weeks ago, the whole thing would take about two hours.

I’ll grant that kind of efficiency is impossible when you’re teaching a diverse group of nervous people who are desperate for information. It’s even less possible when half of them are morons.

I’ll be upfront here – I’m not particularly patient when it comes to adult incompetence. I have high standards for the people with whom I associate during my free time. I prefer hanging with people who can sit in one place for 15-20 minute periods without feeling the need to be validated. Or people who, in the face of the specter of a growing human within their belly, think it might be a good idea to read a book about it.

The birth class was a strange experience, to say the least, and it wasn’t really because of the subject matter. It was just an odd mix of students. Some were like us, and because they were like us, will escape my mean-spirited and unnecessary criticism. Thank you for conforming.

Others were just bizarre. There was one woman in the class who had to be corrected like seven times by the instructor because she kept referring to her uterus as her stomach. She raised her hand once just to let everyone know she was horrified by the notion that the baby would be swallowing the same amniotic fluid in which it urinates. In one of the later sessions, she asked if there was cable in the birthing room.

48 hours of Golf Channel? YES.

Take that, dumb question lady!

By that point, I immediately hoped with all my heart that she had a 48-hour labor where the TV was stuck on the Golf Channel the whole time.

Another woman insisted on starting all her questions with, “If my baby has to go to the NICU, would…” I mean, I understand if someone feels she in particular has a reason to be concerned. But that’s what private conversations with your doctor are for – or even with the instructor after class or during one of the breaks. But there are 12 other couples in there she was unnecessarily freaking out. Debbie Downer much?

One of the guys in the class seemed to be from a military background, and I’d guess he was someone who does work where detail is highly important, like logistics or IT. He’d ask these 25-part questions that were clearly intended to be very comprehensive while showing his firm grasp of the terms and concepts. They were like a syllabus in themselves. Sometimes they’d go on for like a full minute. The instructor was really patient and realized she needed to tell him that he had posed good questions or he’d feel obligated to try again. I’d have interrupted him and told him he had a 1000 word limit. Actually I probably wouldn’t have, because he looked like he could kung-fu my ass.

I felt really bad for one particular woman and her future child. Her husband obviously was the kind of guy that was a perfectionist and expected the same of her. We were discussing colostrum, which happens to be the most amazing substance known to man. It’s the first milk after birth, and it contains not just nutrients but genetically personalized building blocks that seed your baby’s immune system. The instructor had been using superlatives in describing this stuff because it’s pretty much the best thing ever. For some reason, this jerk raises his hand and says, “How can my wife make her colostrum better? Like diet, or…?” That’s like how can my wife do better than an A+? She looked worried. The instructor looked angry. She explained there was no way to improve something that was already perfect. He seemed unconvinced.

How did Krukky do Wednesday night baseball AND the class?

How did Krukky do Wednesday night baseball AND the class and why didn't he teach me this trick?

Then there was John Kruk Guy, who looked exactly like the former Philadelphia Phillies player and current ESPN analyst. He was well behaved but I couldn’t stop staring. I decided he must be John Kruk’s less talented brother. He was married to Open Mouth Breather Woman who was actually relatively pretty when she wasn’t audibly exhaling peanut butter breath.

She had peanut butter breath because the instructor provided snacks during a break at the one-hour mark. This dimension was also fascinating.

The snacks were there for the moms, who need to keep their energy up. So that makes a certain amount of sense. I still wouldn’t have served peanut butter crackers to a group of people in a poorly ventilated room, but hey.

But what was interesting to me is how so many of the guys loaded up their little pastel plates as well, or kept taking trips to the mini-cooler for 4 oz. cups of Crystal Light. What are we, seven? Just sit there for two hours and learn, damn it. Don’t make it two and a half hours because you want to graze on a pile of Quaker Chewy granola bars or because you want to show people you are smart or because you require that every answer to every question be personalized to your precise situation.

That was the other one – the fake theoretical question. “What if your husband works from home mostly at night and kind of wants to feed the baby too but isn’t sure when he should do it – also he likes the band Squirrel Nut Zippers and wants to name the baby Leia if a girl and Luke if a boy.” I wanted to suggest divorce.

That was my overriding complaint really – the pace. I couldn’t believe adults wanted to learn so slowly, or that they actually preferred sitting in a non-air conditioned room to their own homes just because there was access to M&Ms.

At the risk of sounding like an ass, some of the people in there were clearly the kids in high school who you only knew from gym and shop class. These were also the people who were most enamored with the birth class diploma we received at the end.

Some people actually love their birth classes and make a ton of friends. They have reunions and the like. I think we were just unlucky on the draw.

My advice to you is to try to attend one with another couple with whom you are already friends. The two couples like that in our class seemed to be having a much better time. The other thing is that I’ve heard there are classes that meet less often for longer – even one-time, 8 hour cram sessions. That would have been my preference, although I don’t think my wife would loved that idea.

If I were designing the curriculum for one of these classes, I’d assign a book or packet to read and hold Q&A sessions on the assigned reading once a week. That was really all people wanted, I think – someone who would answer questions, no matter how dumb they seemed. And I would have been fine with the dumb questions if there were no other material we were trying to get through during the sessions. I think.

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14 Responses to “I have no class”

  1. 1 mtaterskt738

    Great Blog post today. I know exactly what you mean. I have taken numerous certification class and continuing education for my career since I have gotten out of college. Its only been about three years since I graduated so I still have that skill of “efficient learning” It seems as you get older you tend to loose this. There have been older people who have more formal education then me that “just don’t get it”. Its like they have forgotten how to play the game. …… O well the only thing you can do is laugh and move on.

    Dont be a stranger over at JustDaddys.Net

    Jason
    DaddyKV

  2. 2 il

    Thanks – JustDaddys.net seems like a cool place for Dads to meet as well – definitely worth checking out, readers. A bit more interactive than my rants like this one.

  3. 3 workingdad

    Dadorbust, Great post, those classes are quite long. You get props for signing up for six weeks. I think we took one class for an afternoon.

    Paul Nyhan
    Family Reporter
    Seattle Post-Intelligencer
    (206) 448-XXXX
    (206) 718-XXXX (cell)
    Blog: http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/family

  4. 4 il

    Thanks for the feedback Paul – lucky you on the day-long class. BTW, I truncated your digits so you wouldn’t get strange calls from my mother.

  5. Your awesomeness was featured on BS Sunday on the Houston Chronicle Online: http://tinyurl.com/6c2w4u

  6. We had the same experience at our birth class two years ago, but there were only one or two other married couples in our class of thirty. The rest were barely over high school age girls, if that, with their baby daddies or their best girlfriend. At least they were trying. One of the girls and her girlfriend were especially interested in the epidural. Not in its pain reliving capabilities but in the likelihood of paralyzation and how much you could sue for if that 1 in 400 million occurrence actually happened. Someone asked if they had to heat breast milk. Someone asked if they had water tubs and if they could use one while they had an epidural and the nurse finally said “Look, you can’t feel your legs. You can’t be up walking around to speed along labor if you CAN’T FEEL YOUR LEGS. And if you want a water birth you should have thought of that before you were 36 weeks along.” We would laugh the whole way home every night. Those poor kids.

  7. Ended up at this post from one of those wordpress random links to my own blog. I’m a birth educator and I was interested to read the dad’s perspective on classes! I sort of accidentally stumbled into teaching private birth classes (mostly because I live in a small town and there are rarely enough people due at the same time who want to take classes at the same time). However, I’ve discovered it works SO much better than trying to teach a group. The whole class is just about the one couple and what they want to learn and no one else is there to be annoying. The fathers in particular seem to be much more interested and more engaged when it is just the one couple at a time. So, it has been a good niche for me, though I didn’t set out to do it on purpose.

    Best wishes,

    Molly

  8. After reading this article, I just feel that I need more information on the topic. Could you suggest some resources please?

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  10. 10 ReviewKid

    Thanks for the post, it was really helpful to me…..

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