I attended childbirth preparation classes this past weekend. They were excellent. Our course instructor was insightful, the other parents were welcoming, and holy labor pains this is terrifying. I just realized that we are five weeks away from our due date. I understand that I am not the one going through labor, but this whole experience remains daunting.
I had many birth-related fears before attending this class. Although the course was meant to normalize and alleviate those fears, I knew that I would inevitably find new things that would terrify me. This happened. While the instructor discussed the hospital’s treatment of infants and new families, she assured us that our baby would not be lost. Wait. Hold up. That was in the Baby Course Curriculum? Apart from the second season of every sitcom ever, when does a baby get mixed up with another baby?
I immediately started problem-solving. I imagined bringing a bucket of baby-safe paint to the hospital, so I could mark my baby’s face with my hand, like an Orc from Lord of the Rings. Nobody wants to steal a painted baby.
Of course, I have nothing to worry about. There would be no point. I could imagine a thousand different scenarios, and find solutions for every problem. The actual birth would probably be unlike any of the imagined births, and I would be left standing there with a painted baby, still unprepared.
Even after all of my baby-related education, I feel that my greatest lesson was taught by a small child. My wife, a kindergarten teacher, recently received a surprise baby shower at her school. Parents assisted their children in assembling a book of parenting advice, and the book was presented to my wife as a gift. Each child submitted a page for the book, and each page included hand-written parenting advice accompanied by a small illustration.
One child wrote “Don’t let your baby eat a marble.” The statement was accompanied by a drawing of a shark eating another shark, just below a boat. Inside the boat, a man was singing “la-la-la-la-la.” I am not entirely sure, but I believe this child will become President. This child, and any child like him/her, is perfect inspiration for a terrified future parent. Even if things get wild, I will continue to remind my wife that we get to go home with a baby. Babies become kindergartners, and kindergartners are hilarious. I will continue to remind my wife of the big-picture, between the contractions.