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Last night Elysha and I attended our final birth class. Though the first two classes were highly informative and well worth my time, this was the class that included the breathing exercises and the dreaded videos.

Not a night to remember.

It turns out that the breathing exercises are merely a diversion from the pain. I was under the impression that this rhythmic breathing somehow assisted in the actual labor and delivery of the baby, but not so. These exercises are designed to provide a focal point for a mother in labor pain. A distraction, if you will. While this may work with some women, I tried to explain to the instructor (without much success) that I have a multitude of ways to divert Elysha’s attention without the assistance of the Hee-Hee-Hoos (the actual name for one of these breathing techniques).

Play her a hitherto unheard song by an obscure singer who is performing with a new band and ask her to identify the singer and lead guitarist.

Ask her to name a dozen films in which Corey Haim, Corey Feldman, or both, starred.

Place knitting needles and some yarn in her hands.

Sit her down in front of Photoshop.

These activities can concume Elysha for hours.  

And speaking of alternative diversions, could you imagine the diversions that men would have invented had we been the ones to experience labor pain and give birth? I promise you that the Hee-Hee-Hoos would not be included in the arsenal of distractions.

I also learned that labor pain is very similar to passing a kidney stone, meaning that some unlucky men are capable of experiencing a pain quite similar to childbirth, without the benefits of an epidural, of course.

This is not a fact that women seem to be anxious to publicize to the world.

But I digress. There is a point to all this, and it relates to writing. I promise.

The class ended with video footage of three different deliveries, filmed in documentary form. Why we needed to watch women in agony, babies crowning and abdomens sliced open for a cesarean sections is beyond me, but uncertain if I will be able to remain standing and conscious during the birth of my own child, I opted not to watch the suffering of others. Among the many books and magazines that I carry in my bag is The Elements of Style, by William Strunk and EB White. Though I’ve read this book a dozen times or more, I am constantly reviewing it, finding the authors’ words (and especially Strunk’s) absolutely brilliant.

So in lieu of watching these awful, bloody, heart-wrenching videos. I merely raised The Elements of Style in front of my face and ignored the television completely.

Strunk, the author of much of the book, is especially amusing. I adore his blunt, straightforward approach to advice. As I was reading, I came across a few of his remarks that made me giggle, including this one, that apparently struck me at a less than apropos moment based upon the horrified look on one of my classmate’s faces:

Prestigious. Often an adjective of last resort. It’s in the dictionary, but that doesn’t mean you have to use it.

The Elements of Style. A perfect diversion from the bodily fluids and hypodermic needles associated with child birth.