A Dad Attends Childbirth Class

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Sort of. The only witness was a sullen kid slumping behind the counter. He dropped our stuff into a bag without looking at us, embarrassed by us old people and our scientific approach to breeding. And who could blame him? Here I was, 32 years old, living in a comfy suburb, trying to knock my wife up and transform us from Man and Wife into Mom and Dad. It was the sort of thing I would've sneered at a decade ago.

When I discovered our technique worked and Lisa was actually pregnant, I had a vertiginous mixture of reactions. It was like being pummeled by one feeling after another: joy -- bam! fear -- bop! pride -- smack! Lisa was radiant with biological well-being; me, I had to climb out of the ring to keep from being worked over by emotion.

But now I no longer had time to fuss with my feelings. Before you knew it, I'd be neck-deep in breast pumps and sippy cups and plush Teletubbies. The question was: Would we still have romantic evenings for two? Would there be Life after Birth?

I was clueless, as was everyone else in the room. But seven weeks later, I'd mastered the vocabulary of pregnancy. I could talk about the bag of waters, the thinning of the cervix, and the beloved mucous plug with the best of them. And I was considerably less freaked out. Randi showed us videos of real couples having babies, with fathers offering soft, nervous-sounding support in the background. While the tapes made me wonder if natural childbirth would knock the smarts out of Lisa (one video-mom's post-birth comment: "The intensity of it was intense, emotion-wise"), the blood-, sweat-, and tear-stained film gave me confidence. Watching each husband bleat a tentative "That's great, Honey" made me think, "Hey, I can do better than that."

But there was one thing that took some getting used to: the relaxation exercises. They were so weird. Randi would dim the lights and then ask the moms to get on the floor as their partners sat beside or behind them. She'd flip on some tinkly New Age music and tell the women to breathe: out their toes, their shins, their knees, even their "bottoms."

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