I am going to teach a Baby and Me yoga class after Walter is born. So yesterday I headed down to Campbell to observe thinking I should have some idea of exactly what this looks like. Let me explain what observing a class normally involves: I come in and sit in the corner with my paper and pen and furiously write down the poses that the teacher uses, the order and any other hints that I like about her style. I don’t generally participate much in the class, but am just there. I am not sure exactly what I was expecting. Perhaps a somewhat normal yoga class with babies somehow involved? Perhaps an extension of my pre-natal yoga class except now the babies were out of tummies instead of in them? I got to the class a bit early, found the teacher and introduced myself. She was kneeling down playing with one of the babies. She welcomed me to the class and asked me to go to the prop room and grab some pillows to prop up the babies and some chairs for the moms. There were only about 6 or 7 women and their babies at the time. It was a bit daunting, but seemed doable. I quickly learned that if the baby is under 3 months then they need to be propped up on two pillows on their backs at the front of mom’s mat. If they are older, then they get a little bolster to to put under their tummy so that they can lift themselves up a bit.
The minutes went by and the room filled with more and more women and babies. I asked moms as they came in how old their baby was. I went to get more and more pillows and chairs. We ran out of pillows so I started improvising. By the time the class started, I was quite hot and thoroughly overwhelmed. There were 16 women and 16 babies in a room that was bursting at the seams. There were women breastfeeding, changing diapers and just generally trying to get their baby to calm down a bit. The teacher came up to me and said that she usually picks up the fussy babies and tries to calm them so that mom can have a break and that perhaps I should also do this. It was a this moment that I realized I couldn’t really remember the last time I was around a baby other than in just passing. I took care of my youngest sister when she was a baby, but I was 6 then! I was slightly petrified to pick up a baby and concerned that the moms really shouldn’t be letting me hold their babies either! Which promptly led to the thought, “Holy smokes, what the hell have I gotten myself into? How am I possibly going to care for Walter once he is born? Alex and I are in big trouble.” As I was thinking this, I passed a little boy with his face all scrunched up and obviously very unhappy with the world. So I took a deep breath and picked him up. I held him close to my chest and just started walking and talking to him, trying to soothe him. What do you know? After a few minutes, he stopped fussing and lift his head up, opened big blue eyes and tried to look around the room. “Ok, I thought, this is doable.” I walked him for a bit and then set him back down in front of his mom and looked for the next fussy one.
I did this throughout most of the class. Surprisingly enough, I wasn’t bad at soothing fussy babies and I was glad to give the mom a chance to actually practice. I learned a relaxation hold (you reach your right arm through the baby’s legs and spread your fingers out over the baby’s chest and then hold the baby close to you) to calm the baby down and tried that several times. While I was doing this, I was desperately trying to remember what the teacher was teaching. She seemed to seamlessly move between the poses integrating the women and their children into the class. The room was chaotic, but she didn’t lose her cool. She had the mothers singing lullabies and cute kid songs while they did little flows. The time was passing very quickly and before I knew it the class was over. I walked out exhausted both mentally and physically and extremely thirsty!
I came home completely overwhelmed and tried to describe the scene to my husband. It was intense. I think it wasn’t the class that was bothering me so much, but more that I felt that I got a glimpse into how much our lives are going to change. It was amazing to me that such a little one can completely take up all of you time without even trying. Alex and I keep thinking that we are going to be able to maintain some semblance of our current lives in those first few months, but everyone keeps saying that will be impossible and neither of us can really imagine why. I still don’t entirely understand it, but I feel like I have a window into exactly what that will be like now. Hopefully this will help me be a better teacher too!