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Sarah and her NCT experience

Monday, 11 November 2013  | 

It's been a bit of a quiet week for me, I'm still battling a cold, I'm all bunged up and very grateful for the incontinence pads as every sneeze or cough is resulting in a minor accident and it's putting them through the paces. I can report back that Aldi's incontinence pads are value for money and highly recommended. Sarah Approved!
Works been bonkers and keeping me busy, and I've managed to squeeze in one swimming session and also a trip to my NCT class. I do love my NCT class, I really do. There's not that many antenatal classes available in my area so the NCT class is really beneficial and is a good way for me to learn about what I'm about to go through. I've also been told that I'll make "life long friends". That's what everyone I know who goes to the NCT tells me. "oh you'll love it, you'll make life long friends". So this Tuesday night my sister and I went to the local Methodist Hall, which is on the next street to my house, chattering away about which women there were going to be my life long friends, all revved up we were and looking forward to it. We were late, obviously, but only by a couple of minutes and when we got there everyone was paired up and having one to one sessions and finding out about each other. Debs and I had to sit to one side and while all these Life Long Friendships were being formed and all we could do was watch - although slightly relieved as we'd both had garlic for our dinner so not feeling fresh enough to go and impress people and make friends.
This is the 2nd week of the class and we basically went over the labour and what happens to your body, what to expect and things you can do to make it easier. It's really interesting and even though the women who runs it isn't a midwife (I'm pretty sure she said she was a trained vet, but I could be wrong, my mind tends to drift) she's got all the info to hand including some nice graphic pictures, a model pelvis and a toy baby. The human body is really amazing, did you know that when a woman is in labour a vein darkens along her spine, the longer and darker it becomes the further she is dilated? This is the kind of thing you learn and I find it fascinating.
My absolutely favourite thing about the class though is my sisters reaction to everything. I've noticed that throughout my pregnancy women who already have children love telling you how horrific it is to have children, how much pain you're going to be in and how you'll never sleep again. They ask what kind of birth you want or if you have a plan then basically scoff at you and tell you how naive you are for even thinking it as you are about to experience the worst pain of your life so don't bother planning anything. It's as if they think you don't know that childbirth hurts and sometimes I think that they actually want me to die in labour just so they can say, ha I told you so! I think in all the women I've spoken to only 2 of them have said, actually, it's not too bad and been positive about it (Both of those women had water births). My sister, bless her, had two pretty horrific births. Both of labours lasted about 30 hours or more and the last one resulted in a blood transfusion so when she comes to the NCT class she pretty much has been through it all and has the t-shirt to prove it. Anyway, when the women tells us about the best position to give birth in, and how not to be on the bed, or how to spend time in the weeks before the labour not sitting and being active to avoid the baby getting stuck back to back I hear a little "ohhhhhhh" and "ahhhh right" coming from her and the look of realisation that everything you're not supposed to do, she did, and she looks at me all wide-eyed, saying "I did that" and it really makes me laugh. In my sisters defence she was living in Lincoln and commuting to London on a daily basis when she was pregnant so never got to go to a class or had time to be active like they all tell you to be. She does say that she wants to have another baby so this time she can do it properly, which makes me think that the NCT class is a good thing.
My least favourite thing about the NCT class is the exercises. The breathing exercise we started on wasn't too bad, just breathing, imagining your having a contraction and breathing through it. Easy peasy. However then we were told to get onto the floor, on our knees and get between our partners legs and pretend we are having a contraction. I decided that I didn't want to sit on my knees between my sisters legs and rock from side to side, so I lent against a chair. The next one, we had to stand and hold onto our partners and lean against them as if we were having a contraction. I looked around the room and all the women had their arms around their husbands necks, and were leaning against their husbands chest breathing heavily while their men held and supported them. I looked at my sister, who's only an inch taller than me and probably a couple of stone lighter by now and again I felt I didn't want to bury my head into her bosom, lean my full weight on her and breath deeply. So I went and stood behind a chair and gripped onto it. The final exercise was massage, we had to breathe while our partner massaged us to help us relax. Some couples seemed quite into it. I looked at my sister who by now was realising that I, under no circumstances, wanted to be touched, and I quietly shook my head. She just rolled her eyes and got her phone out to check her Facebook and I went to wash up our tea cups while we pretended we weren't surrounded by 10 couples who were massaging each other.
The women who ran the group laughed at me and said "oh I had a woman like you before who didn't want to be touched, but when she got in the room that's all she wanted" and I have to admit that made my blood boil. All the information on the NCT classes say that this is a class you can attend on your own but in reality that's not actually true. When I filled out my application and paid my money (and it wasn't cheap) I did state that I would be on my own so this was something they were aware of and even though I'm with my sister I feel like they could suggest a different exercise that I could do without having to fondle my big sister. If I'm a in a gym class, and they have some high impact exercise to do they always let you know a different low impact one, why can't NCT offer a different suggestion for people on their own instead of making me look like an uptight idiot, grappling round for a chair and trying to find an alternative. I release that I am the "diverse" one of the group but to then have the leader mock me because of it, when I already feel like I stick out, well it wound me up. It was 5 days ago and I'm still put out about it. Not everyone likes to be touched, not everyone is in a loving relationship, not everyone is having a planned pregnancy so surely all the people in the group need to be catered for?
I read recently that one in four families in Lincoln are single parent families. One in four! Now I know that a lot of the time these families break up usually after the child is born but I did an Internet search for single parent families or pregnant and single and all that comes up is charities, information on working tax credits or dating websites. Search for alternative families in Lincoln and all that comes up is articles on what Abraham Lincoln would think of same sex families. My sister knows 3 pregnant women at the moment, all of them are single, none of them need to go the charities for help. Lincolnshire is also a county filled with RAF bases, a day doesn't go by in Lincoln where you don't lift your head up and watch a tornado, or the Red Arrows fly overhead so what about all the pregnant women who's husbands are away? It feels like, if you're pregnant, and on your own, you're just supposed to stay at home and not venture to these groups or get the support on offer, even if we have the money to pay for it! What drives me mad the most though is that Mr A can go off and restart his life, he can pretend its not happened, or justify it in his head whichever way he's managed to, he can even tell people that he's walked away and he won't be judged, he won't be made to feel different, or less of person, and he certainly won't be laughed at. Society doesn't care really that he's walked off and there is no stigma attached to him. It's me that now carries the label, Single Parent, One Parent Family, Single Mummy. Me that's trying to find the way to cope, to get through childbirth in a way that I feel comfortable with, and it doesn't matter how much money I have, or how nice the home I have is, or how well I speak, or how nice I am because even the people you pay to help you treat you like a bit of an outcast, or different, and how is that fair?
Once the baby's here it won't matter, the men go back to work and the woman join groups & meet other mummies and life rights itself but when I look around me there are so many women out there doing it on their own and looking to other women for help but not going to the groups because of the shame that's involved and it just doesn't make any sense, being pregnant and alone isn't a new trend, it's been happening since time began so why are we made to feel so bad about it?
I could go on about it, I really could, but the dog needs walking, the house needs cleaning and I've got a strong letter to the NCT to write!