There’s no doubt: It’s the season of giving. A time of year when we pause to reflect, take a step away from ourselves and toward others, and share our generosity with the ones we love.
What many don’t like to talk about is that it’s also the season of getting. And that’s just what I spent a full weekend doing, getting a TON of baby knowledge from the experts.
This past weekend, my husband and I spent a grand total of 12 hours in various baby-prep classes – part of which was because we were apparently ahead of the game, and the other part (most of it) was because we’ve procrastinated. I like to think that makes us well-balanced. Right? Let’s go with that.
Friday night was spent in Baptism preparation class at our church…the very same church where we exchanged vows just eight months ago. Upon letting the church know we’d like to baptize our son there a few months after he’s born, they informed us that we needed to come in for a short “preparation” class. Lucky for us, my 17 years of Catholic schooling came in handy here. I was hoping I’d eventually be able to use my extensive knowledge of the sacraments and the difference between venial and mortal sins, and that opportunity finally presented itself. I did have to practice some self-restraint, for fear of being “that girl” in class, constantly raising my hand to answer the priest’s questions.
Little did I know that all of the other couples in class were new parents, and we were the only parents-to-be. Upon arrival, the priest said to us, “aren’t you a little early?” to which I replied, “doesn’t the class start at six?” He pointed to my belly. “Oh, THAT kind of early!” Being raised under the theory of “if you’re not early, you’re late,” I figured if there’s anything we might as well take care of in advance, it’s a church requirement. We’ll take all the extra points we can get with the Big Guy upstairs.
Saturday morning and all day Sunday were spent in the very same hospital we plan to deliver at just a little over a month from now. I can’t believe that in just about five weeks, we’ll make the same trek to that building, albeit in much more of a rush, I’m sure, than we were this past weekend.
This was one trip to the hospital we didn’t have to make in a panic. We spent both days in a classroom, just down the hall from where we’ll eventually greet our little man face to face for the first time. Now THIS is the part where we completely procrastinated, finally getting around to attending some prenatal education classes. Saturday morning was focused on breastfeeding, and all day Sunday was spent learning about EVERYTHING labor and delivery, and some Lamaze breathing and relaxation techniques.
I know what a lot of you are likely thinking, because it’s probably the same sentiment I heard from many of the mothers in my life – “Back when I had so-and-so, there were no classes! We just figured it out!” Point taken. Still, I’m a firm believer that knowledge is power. And if you can remember back to the months leading up to your first child being born, you might remember them being filled with excitement and wonder, but also tons of anticipation and maybe some fear of the unknown.
Sitting in a classroom for a couple of days helped to ease some of those fears for my husband and I, and I came out that much more prepared for what lies ahead leading up to, during, and after childbirth.
I won’t sit here and bore you with the details. And again, if you’ve been there, you know how this whole thing goes. But here are my top takeaways from a weekend of “Expectant Parent Education”:
- Make a plan, but plan for it to change at the last minute. Epidural or not, C-section or not, we all have an idea of how we intend for labor and delivery to go. That all could change at the drop of a hat when it comes down to what’s safest for mom and baby. We’ve set our goals and intentions, but are aware of the fact that everything could take a sharp left turn in the moment.
- Bring breath mints. Husbands, partners, birth coaches – this one’s for you. We already knew that pregnant women were especially sensitive to smells, but our instructor mentioned that it’s a good idea to have gum and mints on hand so that you’re only breathing the freshest breath toward mom during her most crucial moments.
- A little bit of breathing goes a long way. I know Lamaze has been around for decades, but it was definitely eye-opening to learn and test out the techniques first-hand. Throw in hours of contractions, and I can’t imagine how relaxed I’ll still feel. Still, it’s a helpful tool to have in my back pocket.
- You get to go home with the biggest gift you’ve ever received. What a perfect sentiment in time for Christmas! He might be our month-belated Christmas gift this year, but he’ll be the gift that keeps on giving for the rest of our lives.
Our instructor made a great point that really stuck with Brian and I after we left class. She asked the class how many people have been through surgery or something extremely painful. My husband’s had quite a few incidents that landed him in the hospital through the years (mostly due to soccer injuries), and he raised his hand to mention breaking both of his collar bones. The instructor reminded him that while he might’ve eventually healed, he probably didn’t get to go home from the hospital with anything more than a few extra bandages and a pat on the back. But this hospital trip, we get to take home something beyond compare.
Coming off a busy weekend of learning, and heading into a more relaxing one surrounded by family and enjoying Christmas, I can’t help but be reminded of how lucky we are to celebrate our very first holiday as newlyweds and first-time expectant parents. These moments only come around once in life, and they certainly are fleeting. With just a month more to go until our baby boy makes his big debut, we’ll continue to soak up the moment, make some memories, and try as hard as we can to not blink – because before we know it, we’ll be giving all we’ve got to our family of three.
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and hope you’ll join me through the final weeks of my pregnancy journey as we enter 2017!