My mom asked last night if we had signed up for our childbirth classes yet. “We don’t need that crap,” I said, “and especially not for two hundred dollars.” “Two hundred dollars?!” she said. “Why, in my day…” and thus began another walk down memory lane that ended with my being born, my mom saying, “Look! It’s a real baby!” and my dad saying, “Huh? Uh-huh. Lots of hair.” I don’t remember what I said but I imagine there were histrionics.
Truth be told, whether or not I would take a childbirth class was never about the money. (Although don’t you find it’s getting increasingly easy to fall back on the “it’s too expensive” excuse for anything and everything in this age of crashing markets and an economy receding faster than Michael Bolton’s hairline? Simply substitute “I don’t want to” with “I can’t afford it” and voila, you are excused!) What it really comes down to, though, is that I think childbirth classes would be, for us, a waste of time.
That photo of books up there? That’s mine, taken many months ago, when the stack of pregnancy and parenting literature was still rather modest and not teetering like a three-foot-tall Seussian skyscraper constructed on my nightstand. I have books that cover conception, gestation, prenatal exercise, labor, birth, recovery, breastfeeding, mothering theory, fetal development, infant development, and the development of thick skin as an armor against all the scary things you discover once you start reading all of the above. Add to that the magazines and pamphlets and handbooks that come in the mail, from the doctor’s office, and stapled to receipts for maternity clothes (I just wanted to buy some courduroys; not register to bank my baby’s cord blood!); plus all the websites and pregnancy calendars and message boards and blogs in my bookmarks folder, all the friends’ email addresses in my cache, all the commenters on my personal website, all the members of Work It, Mom!, all those hundreds (and hundreds) of episodes of A Baby Story (I find it makes good breakfast entertainment), and even a DVD about interpreting an infant’s cries (a fitting primer for our cats, at least), and I guess you could say, in short, I know What to Expect.
The way I imagine them, childbirth classes are for people who (a) don’t have a clue or (b) can’t read (and maybe (a) because of (b)?). Realistically, I know this isn’t true because I am myself acquainted with several very nice, intelligent people who have been reading since kindergarten and yet still decided to take childbirth classes, but I nevertheless have my doubts. How useful is a four-hour course on Where Babies Come From when I already know the mechanics, already have a competent doctor, already have a supportive and understanding partner, already have a community I can turn to with questions, and even already know that no amount of preparation can stand in for the experience of each baby’s unique birth? What, exactly, am I going to learn that I haven’t already gotten (or can get) from another source?
So, I’m curious: Did you take childbirth classes? Was it worth what you paid, if anything? Did you find that you gained more in the way of practical information or ya-ya sisterhood community bonding? And whether or not you took classes, were there any other specific sources you relied on during your pregnancy, be they friends and family, books, the internet, or *gulp* reality television?