Alex ( whispering, nudging her in the side): ” Look. Look.”
Heather ( glancing nervously around, says out of the side of her mouth): ” Would you stop it!”
Alex ( whispering, giggling, motioning towards the drawing on the paper in front of him ): “Looook.”
Heather ( hissing ): ” I am actually going to kill you when we get out of here!”
The previous exchange is an excerpt from the transcript( if one existed) of the one childbirth education class that my husband attended with me. What a special evening it was.
He poked me, he drew childish pictures, he made stupid jokes, and just generally behaved very, very badly.
Smarting from our ongoing discussion regarding his reluctance to attend the live birth of our baby, I had been ‘ Threat Level – Imminent Death’ where his attendance at the six week course was concerned.
He didn’t want to go. He didn’t see the point. He is a doctor, he understood what was going to happen, the procedures etc….. I was a raving lunatic, accusing him of hating me, of wanting me to die alone in the delivery room.
It was a peaceful time in our lives.
His work schedule prevented him from attending all but that one class (yeah, sure), so I did go without him. Week after week. The ONLY lady unaccompanied by her husband or at least by the man who impregnated her. I was so embarrassed. I kept finding ways to mention that I did in fact have a husband….
” Oh, my husband wanted me to ask….”
” My husband has those shoes, too! What d’ya know!”
” My husband is married to me and he is the father of this baby and he will be here on week three!”
When he entered the room that glorious Week Three evening, I beamed around at everyone. Here he is! See! I have a caring, modern-day-type husband too! I couldn’t wait for him to learn with me. To partner with me. To partake in the joy of Childbirth Education with me. Then the dolls were handed out. The swaddling lesson began, his middle school antics began, and I was quickly reminded of how I had really been feeling about all those husbands for all those weeks….
I hated them.
No, no, I didn’t hate them, but I hated that they were there. In the room. With me, a stranger to them all, while tales of vaginal horror- a horror that I was soon to experience- were being told. Childbirth classes don’t pull any punches. There are graphic videos and pictures and anecdotes thrown all over the place. I don’t know about you, but I just didn’t enjoy hearing that the doctor might have to CUT my vagina with a SCALPEL in a room full of men that I didn’t know.
And I had questions. So many questions, but I couldn’t ask most of them as they almost always involved my nether-regions. Or my breasts. Or, what was the aftermath to my nether-regions and my breasts going to be, exactly? Or, if I poop myself on the table, will there be something nearby to smother myself to death with? The truth is, I didn’t want MY husband to hear the answers to those questions, let alone the forty-eight other men in the room who were NOT my husband. Do you see where I’m coming from here?
This is the other truth about those husbands in my class: They hated being there. Probably far more than I hated having them there. They were miserable. Always staring at the wall, at their desk, at the crackers on the “refreshment” table. I knew they wanted to drive their pencils into their eyes. It was obvious. If your husband claims otherwise, he is lying.
We drag men to everything with us nowadays. We want them to be all sensitive and interested in all the same things we are. We want them to change the diapers, turn off the game, join our book club, and watch The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills with us and like it.
Are we being fair?
On the one hand, the childbirth education classes were important to me, so they should have been important to him, right? On the other hand, learning about how to bath a baby is just never going to be of interest to the average man, so why try to force the issue? On the third……hand, during our baby bathing tutorial, when my husband whispered in my ear, in his best ’Beavis and Butthead’ voice, ” heh, heh, she said Johnson and Johnson, heh, heh.” It was pretty damn funny.
Of course there are great reasons for men to attend childbirth education courses- breathing techniques, relaxation techniques- I’m not saying that there aren’t, but do we have to do it all together? My fellow blogger Pat Lemieux recently wrote about his experience at an all men’s childbirth class. Read about it here: http://manchild.bangordailynews.com/2012/02/03/home/daddy-boot-camp/ Perfect! That’s what I’m talking about.
So, what’s my point? I think it’s that I’m actually proud of my husband for being so proudly, steadfastly masculine. He will not compromise himself and his idea of masculinity any more than I will compromise my femininity. And the truth is, he never asks me to. Does that mean I let him off the hook for his behavior in class? No! Will I stop trying to get him to talk to me about his feelings or let me put mascara on him? Nah. But I do understand why he won’t. And I kinda like it.