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Birthing Classes and Deep Dark Secrets

A couple of Saturdays ago, Dave and I took our first birthing class. I’m really wanting to do a natural birth, so I chose to sign us up for a Bradley Method class. It’s called husband-coached natural childbirth because the husband is taught how to work with his wife during labor and delivery. I also chose this class because of the length — it’s meant to be a 12 week class and covers everything from nutrition and exercise to relaxation techniques (you practice a different one every week because they assume not every relaxation technique works for everyone) to how husbands can be birth coaches. It saddens me to think that people spend more time preparing for their wedding than they do preparing for childbirth, which I would argue is more life changing than getting married!

Our first class covered nutrition and exercise, why breast feeding is best, a video with some different women laboring and having their baby to show how each labor is different (some women are vocal, some cry, some have lots of people surrounding them, some want to be alone, etc), a relaxation technique, and some talk about our feelings in regards to pregnancy, labor, and birth.

You may have read my one goal for 2011 and the accompanying quote, one part of which I’m trying to incorporate into all aspects of my life: “Take a deep breath and tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so we can wipe our brow and know that we’re not alone.” I’m sure it’s not easy for anyone to share their deepest, darkest secret, but it’s especially hard for someone from a dysfunctional family because sharing my feelings always ended up negatively. Sometimes, just thinking about sharing a feeling with my husband makes me cry, and I feel safer with him than I do with anyone else. I know he won’t belittle me or make fun of me or ignore me, and yet telling him a feeling causes me to tense up and cry for no reason. Well, that’s not true. I know why I’m crying. I’m crying because I’m scared. I’d rather do just about anything in the world than share my feelings. But that’s not who I want to be.

At the end of our class, we were given little cards with prompts so we could talk about our feelings in regards to being pregnant, our worries about labor, etc. There’s only four couples in the class, but it’s still daunting to share your feelings with strangers. My first reaction to being told we were going to talk about feelings was, I’ll be in the bathroom. (I actually did have to go to the bathroom.) When I came out, I decided to do my best at sharing my feelings, even the ugly ones. As I thought about some of the things I wanted to say, my eyes welled up because, well, sharing feelings, even small ones, is a big step for me. I did share some feelings that I hadn’t yet said out loud, though I didn’t share anything earth shattering or anything that made me cry (I’ll save that for my husband). It made me realize that my goal for 2011 is a good one because it’s not something that I’ll be able to do quickly, easily, or without any personal work. It’s going to take time for me to become more open and sharing with my feelings, but if it results in a mutual “wip[ing] of our brow and know[ing] that we’re not alone”, then it will all be worth it.

In fact, after reading this post about breaking the silence in regards to what it’s like to be a mother with a new baby, it looks like I’ll have plenty of opportunity later this year!

17 comments »

17 Responses to “Birthing Classes and Deep Dark Secrets”

  1. nikki ()

    Adjusting to new motherhood is incredibly difficult on so many levels. I had an incredibly rocky first month or two as a new mom and while I wasn’t exactly silent about it, I probably wasn’t completely honest either about my true feelings.

    Imagine you have the world’s rudest houseguest. Someone you’ve never even met before. He never lets you sleep. You’re responsible for everything for him, from food to bathroom. Not to mention the physical pain he caused you just being brought into this house. Now, everyone who comes to visit you is WAY more interested in your house guest than they are in you (And these are YOUR family members! YOUR friends!). You might be a little resentful of that guy, right? That’s what it’s like having a baby. He’s a rude invalid houseguest. And it’s hard not to resent him at first, but it’s even harder not to when you feel so bad about feeling resentful.

    Remember, when you have your baby, that baby is a stranger to you. You might love him right away, but you DO NOT have to bond with him right away. It takes time, and that’s OK.

    :)

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  2. Virginia Bonnett

    If I were a hugger, I’d totally hug you. Since this is virtual, and I am a complete virtual hugger, I’m sending you virtual hugs.

    I don’t know why I can’t fess up to feelings. Drives my husband batty. My parents were both stifle-rs of emotion and I unfortunately did not escape that.

    One of my biggest fears was not loving my baby. Just big fat not wanting anything to do with her. Thank heavens I was in counseling while pregnant and voiced these concerns to my fabulous counselor. Putting it out there in words to the world helped me oodles.

    I did love her. Immediately. Nevertheless, the same fear crept into me when I was pregnant with number 2. I loved her instantly too.

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  3. Amy

    Well Trish, once again you have touched me with your honesty. Even though we do not get to spend much time together, I always feel closer to you from having read your post. That said, I feel the same about the forced closeness of some classes and am put off by the assumed friendship that is suposed to envelop the group from “sharing”. I totally agree with keeping the real stuff for Dave and yet attempting to share is a big step too. My goal for the last few years has been the same, trying to be a nice person. Which is harder than it looks, but thanks for the eyeball into your own struggles and revelations! Smiles…

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  4. zibilee ()

    Sharing secrets can be incredibly hard, and at times painful for me. The kinds of secrets that I have in my past are really not very appealing to think about or bring out into the open. I know where you are coming from when you say that telling your secrets can be tear inducing, as a few of mine have not even made it out into the open air yet. I think your motto of sharing is one that I would like to embrace, but I am going to have to go forward in baby steps and see where this leads me. I can imagine that it will be the kind of thing that will get easier over time, and will be empowering once some of the dirty laundry has been aired out a bit. I am going to be working on this, and hope that you will be making progress as well.

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  5. Jeane

    Being a new mom was very difficult for me. And I’ve not been able to share that with many people, because I’m afraid they’ll think there’s something wrong about that. I was still newly married, I had a long painful delivery (and for some reason my brain seems to be missing that part that makes moms “forget all about the pain”) my new baby cried constantly and we had problems getting breastfeeding started. It was very emotionally draining. I even thought at one point I had PPD and my husband convinced me to get help but then when I went into the clinic I felt like they didn’t take it seriously, even though I was crying all the time. It was humiliating. I’m so glad you linked to that other article; it helped me to read it. I certainly hope I don’t go through the same thing this time around, but at least now I feel a bit more sure that if it happens, I can talk about it and get help.

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  6. Shelly Burns ()

    I just love how honest you are! Sharing your feelings is a hard thing for many people; harder for some more than others. Just take it easy and do what you can.

    Your birthing class sounds like it is going to have you ready for labor. You and your husband will do great, I’m sure!

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  7. Julie333w

    Good luck with your labor and delivery. I did the Bradly method with my second and it was a good choice for us. Just remember, in the end, its all about making the best decisions for you and your baby along the way. If you end up totally deviating from your birth plan, that is ok! I really learned a lot from Bradley, and hope you do do, but try not to get too sucked in – kwim?

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    trish Reply:

    I do know what you mean, Julie. I’ve told myself that even if I don’t have the natural birth that I would like, having a healthy baby is ultimately all that matters. I feel really comfortable with all the research I’ve done and know that if I don’t have a natural birth, it’s not because I didn’t try or didn’t educate myself.

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  8. Elisabeth

    Great choice using the Bradley Method. We took that class with our first, 28 years ago! We are still good friends with a couple we met there and our son is best friends with that couples son also. You never know!

    Pregnancy is an emotional time overall – relax and enjoy it!

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  9. Michelle ()

    Oh, if you ever want the “truth” behind parenting, let me know! My friends laugh at me for being brutally honest and sharing what no one ever says – like the fact that there will be a moment where you hate your child and love him/her at the same time. That it is OKAY to put the baby in the crib and walk away when you can’t handle the crying. That you can love a baby but not like the baby for weeks.

    Congratulations on stretching your comfort zone and sharing feelings. You are so inspiring to us all!

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  10. Lisa

    The class sounds great–I had three babies and every one of my delivers was different. It sounds like you’ll have all of the bases covered. But just like every labor and deliver is different, every newborn is different and every reaction to this massive change in your life is different.

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  11. Beth F ()

    Good for you! It’s tough to share one’s deep, dark secrets but when you are with someone you trust … rely on the trust. I have several friends who used the Bradley Method and were very happy they did.

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  12. Dawn - She Is Too Fond of Books ()

    wow, Trish! With all the extra hormone-induced emotions during your pregnancy, you’ve set quite a goal for yourself! I think you’re right – a goal that stretches you this way (the sharing of feelings, not the pregnancy!) is so much more valuable than one that you can reach easily/effortlessly.

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  13. Michelle-RedheadedBookChild

    I remember the classes my husband and I took before the birth of our son. They were so helpful. I’m glad we did it.

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  14. JHS ()

    I passed an award on to you! Here is the link: http://tinyurl.com/49g9tje

    Congrats!

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  15. Heather Rosdol ()

    I think sharing your feelings in front of complete strangers is asking a little much. I’d just say something like “I’m afraid of the pain and that I won’t be able to do it without drugs” and then let the next person go. It’s none of their business. It is between you and your husband. I think you are so brave to share your feelings here. It is pretty anonymous and yet it isn’t. It’s written here forever. Any of us, I think, that had children had worries and fears. Those from “normal” and dysfunctional families. The thing is no one has the same experience. Giving birth may be a breeze for you. My sister sailed through four pregnancies and births, the last one at the age of 45. I had two miscarriages and two pre-term babies. Of course, we are both adopted and not blood related, but everyone has a different experience. She hated breast feeding. I loved it.

    You’ll have your bad days. Put him or her down in the crib and have a mommy time out. If you need help ask for help. Make daddy take him/her for a few hours on the weekend so you can take a nap or get out and feel normal. Don’t isolate yourself. Blog so you can at least feel like you’re talking to adults. And bonding might happen right away, or it might take time. I had one I bonded to right away and one that took a while. I felt guilty, but we worked on it and we bonded eventually. We had extenuating circumstances.

    You might have an easy baby. You might not. You might love it when people come to visit. Let them take the baby off your hands so you can take a shower or lie down. Take full advantage. They are there to see your baby. Let them. Don’t get your feelings hurt, use them.

    I wish you all the best! It’s definitely an adventure and you won’t believe how having a child seems to make time fly. It seems like mine were just in nursery school and now they’re in 5th and 8th grade. Enjoy every minute of it but don’t forget a date night with hubby even if it’s after you’ve put the baby to bed and watching a movie on the couch. And don’t forget you matter too.

    Heather

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  16. Melanie ()

    You are very brave. Both for sharing your feelings and for committing to Bradley. I am proud of you for confronting your fears.

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