My husband and I were on the fence about children until we were, well…pregnant. (And we weren’t married at the time.) We just couldn’t figure out if it would be the death of us or the life of us. We couldn’t get under it, over it, or think around it. It sat there, like an open-ended question, waiting to be answered. But a positive pregnancy test can do wonders to indecision. It can scare the sh*t out of you, bewilder you, and light up your heart all at the same time. And there's one thing it does better than anything else: convince you to start getting ready — and fast. We walked through our pregnancy quietly. We didn’t do a photo shoot, nor did we post impending baby announcements; we simply sat with the information, allowing things to develop as they did. But my partner and I did take a childbirth class together, even if we put off a lot of the preparation until the baby was nipping at our heels. We didn’t put up the crib until I was ready to burst; I didn’t ever set up a labor bag, though I thought I would. (Nic, my now husband, showed up at the hospital with a man’s take on comfort clothing, which meant it was packed with nothing that I wanted.) Even though we were woefully unprepared on a number of fronts, taking a childbirth class together made all the difference.
A real type-A personality and a voracious reader, I kind of thought that if I were ever to become pregnant I'd read every book on the issue, comb advice and how-tos, and really dig in deep. That was not so. I don’t know the how or the why, but from the first day I found out until the day I landed in the hospital, I didn’t read a word about life with a baby. The only material we covered on the wide range of issues involved in child-bearing was whatever was mentioned during a pre-birth class session offered at a local nearby hospital. And to be honest? I’m not sure I was paying a ton of attention even then. The classes were more like a weekly date without popcorn. Although I did bring a lot of snacks.
We watched movies (I looked away from all the bloody stuff), went through about 70 pages of PowerPoint presentations (obviously, I fell asleep), took quizzes, and had group discussions. All the while I was falling even more deeply in love with Nic. I could so easily see that raising a baby with him was going to be almost as much fun as it would be work.
Nic and I can make a joke out of anything. It’s a cheap way to have a good time. We would write each other notes on the back of the weekly handouts, draw pictures, and catch each other’s eyes at inappropriate times. We were in a room full of people, but it was really just the two of us. The two of us, before we became three. More than once I got a look from the teacher after I lost my sh*t, laughing. You know what was so beautiful about that? Though her eyes admonished me some, they were also somewhat amused. We were disrupting the class, but with happiness and a touch of tomfoolery.
I remember knowing that something big was coming, but having no way of knowing what it could possibly feel like. Those childbirth classes will forever be one of the greatest times of my life. In a sense, they weren't just prep for parenting, but they were, for us, the first time we parented together. A unified team, on the field, gearing up to catch our baby. My mother parented a lot on her own, and I hadn't really known how different it could be. My partner was All In from the moment we knew about the pregnancy.
We commented on the other couples, during breaks and after class. We talk about them now, sometimes, wondering how they’re doing and what their babies look like. I considered trying to befriend some of them, because we were in unison exploring a momentous time, but asking for their phone number just never seemed right.
Last week, I drove past the hospital where we took the classes. I smiled as I passed the parking lot, remembering me and Nic walking out to our car, him holding my arm while we navigated the snow and ice. I remembered how late it always seemed, the pitch-black winter nights, rushing home to our dog, the only dependent we had at the time. I remember knowing that something big was coming, but having no way of knowing what it could possibly feel like. Those childbirth classes will forever be one of the greatest times of my life. In a sense, they weren't just prep for parenting, but they were, for us, the first time we parented together. A unified team, on the field, gearing up to catch our baby. My mother parented a lot on her own, and I hadn't really known how different it could be. My partner was All In from the moment we knew about the pregnancy.
Sometimes I wish Nic and I had had more time together before we had a baby. Time to stay up until all hours of the night, time to travel, time with just the two of us. We became parents a year-and-half after meeting. But most of the time, I look at the three of us in our living room at night and revel at the goodness. We got to have a baby when we were madly in love. We laughed and flirted and fell further in love while diapering fake babies. I knew, even then, that we are some of the lucky ones.