Hello and welcome to a strange new world. You have traveled far through the desert, only to be met time and again by one empty oasis after another. You are lost and alone, wandering, wondering if someone, anyone, knows how you feel. And just when you think you can't go on, and no one could possibly understand your struggle, a hand reaches out to you, lifts you to your feet, and carries you to the promised land. He feeds you knowledge, shelters you from the self-righteous (and the ridiculous), and provides you with the tools you need to survive in this brave new world. You are a stranger in a strange land, but you are not alone. Let him be your guide. Follow closely as you travel together on this adventure of a lifetime. For now, you are a foreigner to "Fatherhood" but soon YOU will be the master of this realm.

"No Man is Expendable!"

This is Fodder 4 Fathers...

Basic Training: If Dads Ran Their Own Pre-Natal Classes...

Image courtesy of the film Full Metal Jacket, 1987
For a man, sitting through six weeks of pre-natal classes is no better than sleeping your way through a grade nine health class. Both are about the birds and the bees (with the obvious exception that one is about avoiding pregnancy and the other is about celebrating it) but neither teaches you anything you can't learn from your older brother. If you ask me, six weeks of breathing exercises, soothing massage techniques, the art of the foot rub, and expert commentary from people who merely want to hand out business cards can be better spent watching the "Baby Story" marathon on the Slice Network. Sure, you're there to support your wife, the one carrying 50 extra pounds of fetus, placenta and water weight, but even she feels your pain and wishes you didn't have to be there (mostly because your snoring is embarrassing her).

Let's be honest, your presence at a traditonal-style pre-natal class is about as necessary as your presence at the birth of your child. You're just there for show. Between Doulas, and Doctors and a direct line to the on-call nurse, you're about as useful in a delivery room as a groom during the planning of a wedding.  Don't get me wrong, you want to be involved but as you're not the one carrying the precious cargo you might as well not be in the room. Except, you will be in the room and if no one includes you in the conversation the second your kid wiggles his way out of the birth canal you're going to be at a loss for what to do when your presence is required the most.
My suggestion: separate pre-natal classes for Moms and Dads. Moms can keep their technical, tedious, time-tested teaching techniques (pamphlets, pictures, professionals in the field) and us guys can finally get the hands on approach we so desperately need. So what would a pre-natal class designed by dad look like? Think of it as a kind of high school football practice meets shop class meets military style training course. We'd bring out the Madden-esque teleprompter, show game film (birth videos), go through all our plays for game day (labour and birth) and run contingency drill after drill until we get it right. We'd train on all the most expensive equipment (strollers, car seats, cribs) taking it apart and putting it back together until we can do it with our eyes closed. And we'd run each and every new dad through a comprehensive commando course on how to survive a challenging sequence of events (diaper changes, feedings, burping) while manoeuvring through the minefield of fatherhood (sleeplessness, crying, crankiness, postpartum depression)... And then we'd bring in a stripper (kidding).

It's a different approach, to be sure, but preparing a dad for the birth of his first child is no different than training a young recruit to go off to war. You wouldn't drop off a soldier in the jungle without a weapon, so why wouldn't you arm first-time fathers with the real, practical knowledge they need to survive the first crucial year of fatherhood? Pamphlets are what you use when you run out of toilet paper, not what you need when teaching a new dad about the most important role he will ever play.

So what do you say: separate pre-natal classes for Moms and Dads?
It just makes better sense. Doesn't it?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks to all our new Australian friends who stopped by today... you guys came out in force!