We attended our first childbirth preparation class last week.
In case you're not familiar: It's the sort of thing someone signs up for in her third trimester of pregnancy, usually through her local hospital or birthing center, with the express purpose of learning about the labor and delivery process.
You might've seen such classes portrayed on TV or in the movies—couples scattered around a room; heavily pregnant females reclined against their partners, eyes closed, engaged in some sort of relaxation or breathing technique.
"It's a rite of passage," I keep telling my husband, though neither of us is particularly jazzed about spending two and a half hours every week in a hospital conference room.
Did I mention it takes place on a weeknight? And that it'll go on like this for the next month or so? Still, we willingly signed up for this and we'll see our commitment through to the end.
Plus, I'm sure we'll learn something. Something that, no doubt, we can get from a book or a website, but in this age of information accessibility and internet searchability, it can be really nice to return to the analog—to being taught and guided by someone who has real-life experience and knowledge, and wants to share it.
Just like us, eight other couples are bringing pillows and blankets, a healthy snack, and their attention to the class—and we sit together in this liminal space, all of us on the brink of becoming parents for the first time.
Of course there's a slide deck and a PVC pelvis model and a baby doll and a molded plastic cervical effacement and dilation chart...but there's something else in the room, too.
(And maybe that's the thing we're actually there for, you know? The unpinpointable thing that has nothing to do with the facts of what lies ahead for all of us.)
In what other gathering of people can we expect to find this same collective mix of joy and terror?
When else do we get the opportunity to sit with others who are about to have their lives changed in the same profound way?
(Come to think of it: When else do we actually know ahead of time that life is about to change profoundly for us, and when else do we get to prepare for it in a way such as this?)
Kind of cool, no?
So, the childbirth prep class—and my own feelings about attending it—have me once again considering the importance of mindset.
You might not be looking forward to that all-staff meeting at the end of the week. Or maybe it's parent-teacher conferences. Your kid's spring recital. An organization you belong to that's convening to vote on something.
When you think about going, it feels like a drag. You'll be tired. It'll take longer than you want to give it. You'd rather stay home.
The challenge here for you is to identify some element of the experience that transcends the event, itself.
What else might be happening at the gathering that's, perhaps, less obvious? Is there a deeper meaning to it—some virtue that's being pursued collectively (or one that you can at least choose to connect with, to inspire some personal investment in it)?
Maybe there's nothing. Maybe you look and plumb and consider...and it really is just a meeting you don't feel like attending. Nothing else, nothing more.
But maybe you've found your access point, your way in.
Maybe you can transform your experience of this thing, now that you're willing to see it for what else it is or could be.
Does this resonate with you? Share with me below.