A few weeks ago, TheBloke (TM) and I went to a weekend of NCT classes. For those of you who don't know, NCT is the National Childbirth Trust, and the idea of the classes is ostensibly to teach you everything you need to know about labour and looking after a baby. Really, the only reason I've ever heard people give for shelling out £250 for the classes is to meet other middle-class mums in the area, so you've got something to do during your maternity leave.
Anyway, on the hottest weekend of the year, we toddled off to a local library with no air conditioning and met seven other couples who are expecting a baby round about the same time as us.
I had heard several horror stories about NCT - from knitted vaginas showing how the baby comes out, through to being pressured not to have any pain relief during childbirth (the clue for me is in the term "pain relief" - relieving pain - what's not to like?). I'm happy to report that actually, there were no woolly foo-foos on display, and the tutor was very even-handed whilst describing the different types of drugs on offer. (ALL of them. I want ALL of them.)
However, there was one part of the day that didn't work for me so well. The tutor was talking about hypnobirthing, and specifically around visualisation. This is apparently where your partner talks to you about a happy place you've enjoyed together, and you focus on relaxing through the contractions. (I think this might be easier if I've had ALL of the drugs. ALL of them.)
So the tutor starts speaking:
"I'd like you all to close your eyes, relax and just let the pictures come into your heads. It's a lovely warm sunny day, and you're driving in the car. You pull your car up and park it by the side of the road, and take a path into open parkland. There are two paths, one leading into woods, and the other leading into the park. As it's a hot day, you decide to take the wooded pathway for some cool shade. Above you, birds sing and the scent of fresh grass is in the air."
I feel my heart rate go up. This is London. Where on earth have I left my car? Did I check the parking restrictions? Last time we parked where we shouldn't, the car was towed and we had to pay £260 to get it back. I had to go to Bromley-by-Bow car pound, which is like a run-down version of hell. Also, where was I driving back from? Won't people be worried about me if I just disappear when I'm expected home? Plus, I go most places by tube; if I'm driving, I've probably got a boot-load of groceries in the car; if it's a hot day, the frozen items will be ruined by the time I've got back.
My breathing increases. I'm really worried about that parking ticket. I can't focus on the tutor, who's saying something about the lovely cool woods, and lying down. LYING DOWN? How could I lie down at a moment like this? The car's being towed, the groceries are ruined, and as I've disappeared on my way home from work, there's probably a search team out looking for me.
"You can open your eyes," says the tutor. I need to go and get a drink; I feel stressed out and a bit faint.
I'm not sure visualisation is the best sort of relaxation for me.