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!