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After almost eight months of my wifeâ€™s pregnancy, weâ€™ve been through a few educational adventures in furniture assembly, nursery preparation and wardrobe navigation. Iâ€™ve even read up a little on being a good daddy-to-be courtesy â€śThe Cavemanâ€™s Pregnancy Companion: A survival guide for expectant fathers.â€ť
OK, well Iâ€™ve read most of it. Err ... would you buy ... some of it?
At any rate, I really thought I was ascending the learning curve of soon-to-be fatherhood in leaps and bounds.
Boy, was I wrong.
Little did I know the final month and a half or so leading up to the arrival of Baby Willard, a.k.a Danger Bear, would subject me to the most vigorous learning environment Iâ€™ve endured since CH 211 Organic Chemistry in college. Thatâ€™s a class for which I earned â€śDâ€ť during the first go-round. It is the one that effectively broke my interest in pursuing any career related to a field of science.
Somehow, I suspect that at this stage in the pregnancy curriculum, there isnâ€™t going to be any changing of my major from fatherhood back to football. There is no â€śdroppingâ€ť this class. The only thing left to do is suck it up, immerse myself in the seminars and become the best possible father-to-be, labor coach and supportive spouse I can be.
Hey, at least Iâ€™m trying to get my head â€śrightâ€ť about the whole situation.
The first class was a 100 level course â€” â€śbirth of a fatherâ€ť â€” and honestly, it was a breeze. Me and four other guys spread out in a semi-circle in a classroom at Catawba Valley Medical Centerâ€™s HealthFirst Center at Valley Hills Mall. The professor, a guy who is a family physician in Hickory, offered insight into some of the things we could expect during pregnancy and child birth. He briefed us on decisions weâ€™d have looming. Admittedly, certain decisions were a little, ahem, uncomfortable. Maybe weâ€™ll have a girl, and I wonâ€™t have to face some of that unpleasantness.
Even with a little bit of seat squirming, the class was pretty laid back. I think I made an A.
Next up was Infant CPR and Choking, and let me tell you, that is where reality meets the road. I mean the prospect of Danger Bear choking or going into a cardiac arrest is a sobering subject if ever there was one. Fortunately, the wife was with me on this 200-level educational adventure, and thanks to some helpful instruction by the nurse at the HealthFirst Center, weâ€™ll know what to do if an emergency arises. Push hard, AND fast.
The subject is serious enough that I will probably need a refresher a few times before any on-the-job tests occur, but I know the right knowledge is crowded in my mind somewhere between valuable insight related to the role hops, yeast and malt play in the life of man.
I give myself a B in this class with the understanding I need to perpetually work to improve.
Those courses completed, weâ€™ve moved on to the 500-level senior seminar, Lamaze. Because this course is still in progress, grades havenâ€™t been awarded, but I do know class No. 1 was reminiscent of my American History lecture course in college.
Thatâ€™s right, I fell asleep. Now wait a minute, hear me out.
Nap time didnâ€™t come until the instructor turned down the lights and turned up the relaxing mantra music designed to help the classâ€™ pregnant wives focus on breathing methods that prompt relaxation.
Needless, to say, when the lights are out, and Iâ€™m laying on my back and breathing deeply to peaceful nature sounds, I donâ€™t have a lot of problems â€śrelaxing.â€ť
I managed to stay awake up to that point, through all the anatomy details and information about how Danger Bear is positioned in mamaâ€™s tummy and what constitutes pre-term contractions. The videos that featured people actually experiencing labor pains were a little weird, but I guess that will help prepare me for when my wife starts making all those grimaces.
Class two was even better â€” SNACKS! Not only that, but there was a longer period of time spent with the lights turned down and we focused on breathing as well as tips for massaging my woman to help put her at ease. Somehow, I think that might come in handy even after baby arrives.
More importantly Iâ€™m quickly learning that comforting and supporting my baby mama is my No. 1 job as pregnancy â€ścoach,â€ť and I admit I canâ€™t wait to earn my whistle and stopwatch for game day.
Thereâ€™s still a couple of Lamaze classes and a hospital tour left on the schedule before the baby is here, and I know there is still plenty to learn and experience, including a video of a live birth. Not sure I am ready for that one yet, but I guess it is all good knowledge and experience to have when the final exam comes around some time in early June. Hopefully by that time, Iâ€™ll be at the head of my class, and prepared enough to know how to answer when I get the first look at Danger and announce to the world the childâ€™s gender. Is it a boy? Is it a girl? Thatâ€™s one test I know I can pass. Hopefully.
Michael Willard is the publisher of The Observer News Enterprise.