Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Intro to Parenting 101 a Prerequisite to Parenting 102

Sitting in the inviting warmth of Colby and John's holiday decorated living room sharing food, sharing friendship, sharing stories. Listening to the buzz around me of women exchanging tips on where to buy used baby clothes, making arrangements to meet for yoga in Grover Beach, or talking about how helpful an alternative health care provider was for them. Watching the expectant parents watching Hattie, Sarah and Ryan's beautiful little blond haired toddler, interacting with Hurley, Colby's friendly little dog. Seeing the dawning of the realization that soon they will be parents too. Seeing Sarah and Renee never miss a beat in their conversations as they confidently latch their babies on and breastfeed in front of everyone, even the dads. Hearing the stories. How Kate, from Santa Maria, changed care providers during the last week of pregnancy in order to ensure she would successfully birth her twins vaginally with the midwives in Dr. Krumhout's office. How Sarah's Hattie was born at home with a Licensed Midwife but her youngest Tillie who was supposed to be born at home needed to be born at French Hospital and how Ryan caught on the bathroom floor there because Sarah said no to moving to the bed and Dr. Goodrich and the nurse were fine with that. How Jennifer, a professor at Cal Poly, is still processing why she made the choices she did during her first birth but accepts and understands it more now through the eyes of her second birth. How Renee, from Pismo Beach, had to learn to give in to the idea that labor wasn't something she could control and in that process how close she came to getting the epidural she had sworn before labor began she didn't want. So much learning going on effortlessly, person to person and seeing my couples drinking it all in; about to go through the initiation that is the key to joining the Parent Club, their ticket to the greatest adventure of their lives.

This was the final class, the Returning Parents Potluck. I love this class. I get to reconnect with my past clients and see their adorable babies. I get to listen to how they are growing as parents, the challenges they have been facing and the sweet sweet bliss of those first days, weeks and months of babymoon time. I get a glimpse into how their births affected them as women and men, mothers and fathers, husbands and wives. None of them are the same people I met at our first class. Doorways in their hearts have opened creating new selves, forever.

I love teaching my birth class series. I have come to believe that preparing for birth has many dimensions. Yes, understanding the biological process is important. Yes, learning coping skills and relaxation techniques is important. Yes, learning how to be a good birth consumer and the importance of standing up for the birth you want is important. But there really is something more, something that isn't easily imparted in a larger more institutional setting. An intangible something that is at the core of what I try to impart to my couples. Pregnancy, birth and parenting is a time of amazing growth and in my classes I try to facilitate that growth. I try to create a safe place where all choices, thoughts and feelings are respected. A space where over the weeks bonds between couples spring up naturally. A space which encourages open communication between partners. We do simple thought provoking class work that spills over into discussions and sharing that continues beyond class and into cars or bedrooms. The time spent brings us all closer and creates a sense of community. I guess in my classes I am "doulaing" the birth of these new families.

Thank you to Sarah and Ryan, Renee and Travis, Kate and Tim, and Jennifer for giving the gift of your wisdom by sharing your stories.

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