In September, just as I’d started the third trimester, I thought it would be a good idea to sign us up for a prenatal course. Our familiarity with babies, up until that point, was non-existent. I didn’t even know how to hold one properly! I mean, I know all about childhood infections and how to prevent their transmission, but that’s marginally helpful in keeping our baby alive.
And I thought I’d found the perfect course. It was a little pricey and would have us give up a precious 10 hours over a few Saturdays. In return though, we would be prepared for labor, delivery, and everything to do with those early days of having a newborn. Along with all the reading I was doing, this seemed like everything we needed to know and more!
In retrospect, maybe I should have been a little more critical before I went ahead and booked. The use of the word holistic in describing the course should have alerted me that it would not align with how Ahmad and I approached having a baby. There is not one right way to raise a child, I would come to understand- but the all-natural, almost martyrdom-like thinking this course presented was the furthest thing possible from our lifestyle and mentality.
Because I’d quickly come to learn something fundemental about the world of childcare services and products. Where the wedding industry tries hard to sell you its services by projecting the event as a one-in-a-lifetime-must-do-everything fanatasy, some of those in the childcare sector do something far, far worse.
But some take all your fears and anxieties, especially if you’re a first time parent like us, bundle them up with their point of view, and try to project just one way of doing things, often without resorting to the proper evidence or manipulating it in a way to perfectly fit their message. Deviate from that and you’re already failing. Dare to question them and they will attack you with the nonsecial “Are you in the medical field? Because I am, and I know what goes on.”
Can’t do skin-to-skin for at least an hour post-delivery? Bonding with your baby is going to be utterly difficult going forward.
You decided to keep your child in the hospital’s nursery instead of room-sharing because you want to recover after labor? *gasp!* Did you have a baby just so you can forget about her the minute she’s in the world? Why should she be anywhere other than by your side day and night?
You’re not questioning every little word your healthcare provider is saying? You’re not on top of your game, clearly forgetting that all doctors have a secret agenda having to do with Big Pharma. Your job is to fight them, from the moment the baby is born. And also, should you encounter a real medical emergency, your doctor is not the right person to call because they are most certainly going to have you quit breastfeeding!
You went ahead and gotten commerically available shampoos, diapers, and creams for your child (products that generations have been raised on)? You really don’t care for this baby, do you? Or would you rather she develop skin sensitivities and cancer? No, only the purest form of olive oil will do. If that’s not available, your best bet is some fancy French-sounding product that is only sold in one pharmacy in the middle of nowhere and costs half your salary.
You want to go out, put on makeup, organize your house, have the traditional tehnyeh, or even 10 minutes in the shower by yourself before six weeks? Again, you’re heartless and selfish. In the first 40 days, the baby’s needs come above everything.
You chose to give formula instead of breastfeeding for whatever reason? Oh this a huge one! Your baby is going to lag behind developmentally and you’re probably already setting her up for multiple diseases and maybe even cancer! Do not think about formula. Formula is evil.
As I sat in the course hearing her spew one declaration after the next, I became increasingly hot and flustered. At one point, I even excused myself to the bathroom so I could get out a good cry. I was a few months away from meeting baby and already, according to this woman, I would be a terrible mother who didn’t care for my daughter.
Oh and three hours into it, I still hadn’t learned how to hold the baby, let alone the other basics of childcare.
After the class ended, I’d also come to learn Ahmad was fuming in his own way. Fuming because his role as a future father had been reduced to a silly diaper-changing competition that took up a grand 30 seconds at the end of the session. A man taking care of his own child? Unthinkable!
Needless to say, after a long weekend mulling over the subject, we decided not to go back and asked for a refund. I wrote a long email detailing all the reasons, stating that the level of the presentation did not in any shape or form match the value we’d expected or paid for. This was not met kindly by the course provider- but I shouldn’t have expected that she’d take the critisim well. It took a few days, several emails, and a 30 minute-long phone call to close this chapter and get the point across.
So what did we do to prepare? Listented to the advice of our mothers, friends who are parents, watched a lot of Youtube videos, and most importantly, learned almost everything the more we spent time with the baby.
On our own schedule, with no cost, and better yet, no fearmongering.