Well, with just about a month left in the pregnancy, my wife and I are finally taking prenatal classes. We had initially signed up for public health classes in Hamilton, but Erin’s massage therapist also runs classes, and she felt that we would get more out of classes that featured a more advanced, holistic approach. We dumped the 6-week public course setup for two 5-hour sessions in the hopes that we could get both in before the baby arrives.
(Before I start in on this, let me first say that the woman that runs this course is great. She is well informed, engaging, and passionate about her subject area. But if you think even for one second that I would go to a course with videos of laboring women in tubs and babies bursting their way into the world out of people’s privates and not write a silly blog post about it, then you clearly area not a regular reader, which makes me think that you should be, so go add my fanpage to your Facebook profile.)
There are advantages to small class sizes. Having to sit awkwardly in someone’s finished basement with only two rather boring couples is not one of them. My first attempts at humour fell flat (“Got milk?” is not as funny to pregnant strangers as you might think), so we resigned ourselves to trying to look really interested in the informational booklet’s section on birth plans.
We covered the usual areas of interest: anatomy, labour stages, shaky camcorder videos of incredibly unattractive people doing horrible-looking things with their nether regions. (Seriously, why is it that these birthing videos all feature rough-looking women and men in pleated shorts with moustaches and mullets? Where are the pretty girls like my wife?) We reviewed the various pain medication options, massage techniques, and breathing tactics.
And then we watched the most surreal movie I have ever seen in my life.
There is a company called Birthing From Within. (I don’t know from where else one is supposed to birth, but from within does seem like a good place to start.) One of their products is an informational video about epidurals. It is called (and I am absolutely serious about this) Elk and the Epidural. It is, as the title suggests, about an elk mother deciding whether or not to get an epidural.
It is not a veterinary movie.
It is not a joke.
It is a serious video about the potential benefits and side-effects of getting an epidural during childbirth. The soundtrack is a lilting piece of classical music. The visuals are composed of oil pastel drawings of an elk family in labour and birthing. There are anatomically correct images of the anthropomorphized elk baby crowning, as well as a C-section scene with a moose doctor. There is a scene where the elk mother is hanging off a tree branch, legs sprawled out, during elk-labour. There is also a porcupine acupuncturist.
And there is a mouse doula.
What the hell kind of good would a mouse doula be to the elk family? She’s a freaking mouse! She would have to climb up the elk’s leg just to get the cold washcloth up to her forehead, which would just feel creepy. And the snake nurse would probably eat her anyway. I was left with most of my epidural fears addressed, but filled with questions about the effectiveness of the woodland medical system. Yes, they did seem to be aware of postpartum elk depression, but sending a mountain lion social worker couldn’t possibly end well.
We have 5 more hours of this next week. I can only hope that we won’t be watching a movie about an elephant’s struggle to successfully breastfeed.