I have been worrying about this for a while.
I have heard horror stories from colleagues of blazing rows and pointless futile arguments. Stories of brave warriors confronting unyielding walls of nonsensical pseudoscience and coming away battered and bruised with a very pissed off wife. This doctor is about to enter THE ANTE-NATAL CLASS!
I had been dreading having to listen to some earth mother homeopathist homebirther rant at us about the evils of vaccinations, how they cause plague, epilepsy and …. um… Osgood-Schlatter disease. I forget what is it that stupid people say vaccinations cause again, I would look it up …. but it’s hard to look up unpublished, non existent data (I could probably find the fraudulent data that started it all, if it hadn’t been retracted).
It was with great trepidation that I entered “The Parents Centre”. Antenatal Classes are quite important for us, we live 12,000 miles (literally) from our nearest family so we are rather alone. I was desperate not to look like a prat, psycho or know-it-all in front of potential friends that have only just met us. A surefire way of probably achieving all three impressions would be to have an argument over something like homeopathy or vaccinations with the person running the class. Being the Dad and not the doctor is my challenge.
As it happened, news of my profession slipped out and soon I was being asked “What do you think Nerd Dad” by the “birth educator”. This was embarassing.
Bear in mind I do general and respiratory medicine. The last time I saw a placenta was in medical school, I poked it and it squirted gore at me and I nearly spewed, I know next to nothing about all the medical bits. Saying “You are a doctor, tell me about the complexities of placentas” is like saying to a french teacher “you are a language teacher, how do I say “This constitution in unacceptable” in Swahili?”. I had three options, smile vacantly and make a sort of “uuuugh” noise, Bullshit my way out of trouble (Something I am very good at, given my profession) or impart my, probably flawed but well intentioned rudimentary knowledge of babymaking bits to the class. I chose option 3.
I couldn’t use my usual flippant response to gynaecological questions* which get asked of us doctors in social occasions disturbingly often. Why do people do that? Do dentists get asked to do fillings on kitchen tables? Do IT specialists get asked to reconfigure routers? … maybe. But why would you bring up your defective bodily functions in polite company …. ever, regardless of the presence of a physician? What do they expect me to do? Excise their mole there and then with a steak knife? Do some intimate examination in the kitchen?
Anyway, I digress. So far the classes have been fine. I almost leaped with joy when the educator answered the question “What about alternative therapies like homeopathy or reiki” with a blank look and “I have no idea, I have seen no evidence for it, ask a homeopathist if you are interested” … I could have kissed her!
So, the not-so undercover foray into antenatal classes is progressing well. We have made some friends, none of which seem to think I’m a psycho.
The Parents Centre is the organisation providing our classes. There is some good advice on their site.
* This response is “I’m afraid my recent experience in that area is entirely recreational and as a married man rather infrequent. You had better ask someone who knows what they are talking about.”