We were supposed to go to a childbirth class a couple of weekends ago. It was going to be an eight-hour affair, all day on a Saturday, and I spent the night before wondering what method of suicide would be the kindest to those who had to deal with the aftermath.
Thankfully, our instructor died (or got sick), and the class was cancelled the morning of. Therefore, I got to sleep in, then wake up and lay on the couch absentmindedly fondling my balls for the whole day or whatever it is I do with my time.
This weekend, though, we had an infant-care class. It was only two-and-a-half hours, so I decided it wasn’t worth taking my life over. Here’s how it went.
9:00am: We waddle into class and there are already three or four couples seated around the room. Everyone looks tired and pissed, mostly because the women are pregnant, and the men have been dealing with the weird hormonal shit. There are baskets filled with Nutri-Grain bars and nobody takes any. There are nametags. I want my wife to write “Hawk” on mine, but she writes my real name. Fuck this shit.
9:05am: The instructor shows us the white-board where her goals have been committed: we’re to tell everyone our name, the sex of the baby if we know it, when we’re due, what we do occupationally and what we hope to learn. We start off with the couple seated to her immediate left. The mom-to-be is 4’6” (not even fucking kidding) and I’m infatuated because, A) I’ve always had a thing for short girls, and B) she is really pregnant which is totally fucking with my senses. She looks like the world’s weirdest cartoon. Her husband is built like the Incredible Hulk and together, they will make the weirdest fucking child ever. She’s Jamie, a speech pathologist and though I cannot recall what he does, I’m sure it involves lifting lots of ridiculously heavy shit.
9:06am: An interesting trend is developing. The woman introduces herself, gives all of the pertinent baby info, says what she does, then points to her husband when it’s time to tell what his occupation is. Clearly, not a single woman in the room knows what her husband does for a living. We could all be professional baseball playing astronauts, but as far as they’re concerned, “he does stuff with numbers, or something.”
9:07am: Seriously, all of these fucking couples are fancy as Gatsby’s ghost. She’s some sort of doctor-nurse-practitioner and he’s a biochemist-lawyer or some combination thereof. Oh, except for the giant Mexican guy to my left. He’s a “freight broker.” I used to do that. That means he drives a forklift. I like him.
9:10am: We’re on us, now. This is weird and embarrassing, but this is how it goes:
Wife: “Hi, I’m Dulaney and this is Brandon. I’m a teacher and, um, we’re having a girl, and we’re due August 17th. What I hope to get out of this class—“
Me: “July 17th.”
Wife: (confounded) “Huh?”
Me: “We’re due July 17th.”
Wife: (staring at me, eyes wide, horrified that I’m this dumb) “Um, no. That’s in like, five days.”
(Everyone is laughing at me right now, mercilessly.)
Me: “Oh. Yeah. Right. So anyway, I’m Brandon, I’m a control analyst and a writer, and clearly, I’m confused.”
(More laughter. Awkward. I’ve clearly failed my first test as a father, which is KNOWING WHEN YOUR FUCKING CHILD WILL BE BORN.)
9:15am: Time for a video. It’s very multicultural. There is a black family telling you how magical having a baby is, then a Chinese family and so forth.
9:18am: Speaking of, there’s a Chinese couple here. It’s their first kid (obviously, I guess—what asshole who’s already been through this would go back to this class? Maybe if your swaddling skills weren’t as good as they could be, I guess?) and when it comes to “what we’d like to learn,” they answer earnestly and terrifyingly: they need to know everything. THEY’VE NEVER EVEN HELD A BABY. I wonder how this is possible as I get up to grab a blueberry Nutri-Grain bar.
9:25am: Video continues. Because fashion goes in cycles, it’s impossible to tell when this was made. Hi-top fades are back for black dudes, so this could be 1990 or last week. Fuck me.
9:30am: My wife gets up to pee, which will happen approximately eight more times in the next 90 minutes. Jamie the adorably tiny (THIS BABY WILL KILL HER, I’M SURE) speech pathologist follows. Then another woman. They are all pregnant, and all very full of piss. I wonder if it’s like yawning—like, sub-consciously contagious? Or maybe it’s just the kind of thing that happens when a fetus is perched atop your pee-bag.
9:45am: The instructor keeps passing things around. But unlike a really cool high school health-class, we’re not handling Ziploc bags filled with real human brains. No, this is like, “here’s what a booger-sucker feels like. This is a diaper.” She’s talking about the size of a newborn’s stomach, and a marble is passed around to demonstrate a one-week-old’s stomach. Okay. A marble. Got it. Then, a ping-pong ball for a three-week-old’s stomach. Only, when I get the ping-pong ball, I turn into fucking Lennie from Of Mice and Men. I crush the ping-pong ball. My wife notices and hisses “WHY DID YOU DO THAT??” I don’t know. I didn’t mean to. I got too excited, I guess. I pass it to the woman sitting to my right who is wearing WAY too much makeup. She frowns, but doesn’t say anything as she passes it to “DJ,” her “husband.” I wonder what the instructor will say when she collects the crushed stomach. Will a question be posed? Will I be kicked out of the class? Will I be considered a physical threat to my unborn child?
9:50am: She doesn’t notice. Or if she does, she’s cool enough to not call out my reckless strength. Godbless her. She’s getting nothing but 5’s on her evaluation.
10:00am: A break. Thank fucking fuck.
10:02am: A conversation ensues in the hall, outside of the bathrooms.
Me: “Should we just leave? Would that be weird? Would anyone notice?”
Wife: “I don’t know.“ (pauses) “No, we shouldn’t.”
10:15am: Another video. This is from a Californian pediatrician who has developed a method for getting your fussy baby to shut the fuck up. There are five words that start with “s” involved, but I can’t remember them now. All I know is that you swaddle it, shove it on its side, and you SHUSH it VERY loudly, right in its ear. (I don’t think “shaking” is one of the “s” words, but I could be wrong.) The video shows this man handling stranger’s babies and doing his technique. Everyone in the class is laughing because here’s a weird, goateed, older white guy hissing loudly in a random black infant’s ear. But here’s the craziest fucking thing: it works. As soon as he starts his scream-hissing, the child’s eyes go wide and they immediately stop wailing. I love this. This is amazing. And hilarious. I hope my daughter is black and I can’t wait to SHUSH as loud as I can in her precious ear.
10:36am: Now we’re pretending to change diapers. Our plastic baby has beautiful purple eyes. My own daughter will be such a letdown after Plastic-Infant Elizabeth Taylor.
10:40am: The Chinese couple has a black doll. They’re very confused.
10:52am: Now we’re learning proper swaddling techniques. It’s like making a really elaborate burrito. What’s the matter with all of these assholes who can’t do it?
10:53am: OK, turns out we need help from the instructor. But look, it’s not our fault—the blanket is too small. The instructor knows it, and is apologetic. So if this is a known issue, why not fix it? I’m reconsidering my perfect 5 rating on the evaluation sheet. Part of running a successful classroom is being prepared for any situation. Fuck this whole class.
11:00am: We’re still here. Suddenly, the ceiling starts leaking. It starts as a few drips. People start to notice slowly. It becomes a light stream. Everyone is laughing and just looking at it. The instructor also eventually notices it. Finally, one of the dads says, “hey, maybe we should put a trashcan underneath it.” Everyone agrees. I’m picturing a toilet falling through the ceiling. Someone makes a joke about water breaking and everyone laughs uncomfortably. A trashcan is procured and the janitor is summoned.
11:10am: The janitor comes in as we’re talking about car seat safety. I wonder what he thinks—about all of this, really. He probably doesn’t see live action like this often. As I’m trying to piece together his story, he climbs into the ceiling. Class continues unabated.
11:22am: Instead of learning which way my child should be put into the car—facing backwards, I think? And not upside down, I’m pretty sure? And mostly not driving? Unless I’m REALLY loaded?—I’m looking at the janitor’s ankles and wondering if he has any kids. If he does, they’ve GOTTA be at least 20. I’m wondering if he went to a class like this. I’m doubting it, but maybe that’s me just being an asshole. I feel like I need to tip him or something. He’s doing some serious work, maybe.
11:28am: Class is dismissed two minutes early. I consider grabbing a Nutri-Grain for the road, but I decide against it. Janitor Dan is still partially ensconced in the ceiling and I figure he might want to pig the fuck out after he solves The Mystery of the Leak.
4:00pm: While absentmindedly fondling my balls to make up for lost time, I wonder what that water was all about. Is it weird if I call the hospital and ask?
Yes, it probably is, I decide. I have a beer instead.
Latest posts by Brandon Leftridge (see all)
- New Daddy Chronicles, Part II: Now the Baby is Home – Year One - August 21, 2016
- New Daddy Chronicles, Part I: Here Comes the Baby - May 28, 2015
- Infant Care Class (aka: A Very Important Saturday That I’ll Never Get Back) - February 13, 2015