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Solo at the birthing class: Oh, baby!

My wife was sick; I was supposed to take notes. But then all that massaging began.

March 20, 2009|JOEL STEIN

Idid not want to sign up for a birthing class with my wife. This is partly because I didn't think I needed a class to pretend to be interested in someone else's pain for 12 hours. I mastered that in my late 20s, when my friends would tell me how much their girlfriends meant to them and I'd nod in agreement while thinking about what I was going to eat at my next meal. For some reason, hearing "I told her things I've never told anyone else" always made me want jalapeno nachos.

But it turned out that the first class wasn't bad. The teacher had a really nice house in the Hollywood Hills and baked banana bread. We didn't have to breathe out loud, none of the other couples talked about being full of life, and I didn't have to watch any movies that required me to look at vaginas in a psychologically healthy way.

We just got useful, if shocking, information, such as the existence of the placenta, which is like a life preserver, if life preservers were props rejected by the director of "Saw VIII" for being too gross. Plus, to demonstrate how to deal with early contractions, the teacher and her young, hot assistant slow-danced for a surprisingly long amount of time.

So when my lovely wife, Cassandra, got the worst case of flu of her life, I happily volunteered to go to the second class alone and take notes.

It turns out the easiest way to seem like a really good guy is to show up alone at a birthing class. If the other women weren't with their husbands and carrying their babies, I think I could have gotten some.

Unfortunately, unlike the first class, this one wasn't just charts and explanations. Within a few minutes, our teacher told us all to lie on the floor to practice massaging our wives during labor. I averted my gaze and tried to make myself small on the corner of the couch, mumbling something about just watching and taking notes, when the teacher told me to pair up with the young, hot assistant.

To make this more awkward, she told me to pretend I was the pregnant woman, so I'd know what the massage felt like. I lined up on the floor with the four women in the group and put a pillow under my butt. I, apparently, have the ability to turn even impregnating a woman into a completely emasculating situation.

As I lay on the floor, the assistant slowly rubbed my leg. When she asked me how it felt, I asked: "Is it normal during labor to get aroused?" She looked at me in a way that assured me that I had totally failed to break the tension.

Then, for reasons that still confuse me, the teacher had us all switch positions. The assistant and all the husbands got on all fours, while the pregnant women and I got behind our partners in a way that, in my situation, seemed less about delivering a baby than making one. I then had to massage the assistant's coccyx while trying not to stare at either her body or the man-butt to my left and right.

I figured the hot assistant and I had a silent agreement that I would just lightly touch her back and fake it. But no such luck. Apparently, she was very interested in advancing to lead teacher and wasn't going to allow me to be a slacker.

I went home with a quart of matzo ball soup, some pregnancy-friendly medication and a suspicious lack of notes. I also yelled, "Dude, I got to massage the hot assistant's butt!" which I like to believe also made Cassandra feel better. At least I'm pretty sure that's what made her insist she was well enough to go to class the next week.

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jstein@latimescolumnists.com

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