Husband and I recently completed a six week birthing class at our birth center here in Portland, and more than anything it made me realize that we are just living in an extended, never ending episode of Portlandia. Bumper stickers everywhere implore us to Keep Portland Weird. I don’t think we really need to worry about Portland losing any of its weirdness. Just this past week, as we were driving down our main street, in our little slice of weird Portland, we passed a woman who was waiting for the bus with a turtle in a cat carrier and a trio of wandering musicians: one wore tight pink pants and beat on a little kids drum, the second carried a sign around their neck asking for money to support musicians, and the third beat on a cowbell. Portland.
Then a couple of weeks ago my mom and I went to check out a reflexology massage place in the Alphabet district. We were given foot massages by a husband and wife team—a duo straight from a Portlandia sketch. The husband held different bottles of essential oils against my feet to see which one my body resonated with. That time it was frankincense, the time after that it was lemon, and last week it was a blend that had spruce in it—I believe it was called Balance. Anyway turns out the couple also writes a blog about all of the feet that come through their door.
Not to mention that every single clip I have watched of Portlandia, I am able to find something identifiable: put a bird on it, the male feminists, the raw milk hippies, the tiny home dwellers. But our birthing class has been over the top—every week. We learned a lot and met some very neat couples, as well as getting to know one of our midwives a lot better. A. LOT. BETTER.
We knew things were going the way of Portlandia when we took our seats among the seven other couples in the room. It was a little surprising to look around and see that EVERYONE in the room was white with brown hair. I mean everyone was brunette and there was a lot of flannel and moccasins. There was even a couple who live in a school bus—a love bus I believe is what they call it. But they were pretty tame compared to the final couple who walked in.
They were a little late, a little younger than myself, and both wearing wolf tails—wolf tails attached to their derrieres. They had taken the bus to get to the center, and when they took their seats on the other side of the circle from us, they both gingerly moved their tails in order to sit down.
That was only the beginning. I am pretty sure Mr. Wolf Tail was high whenever he was in class, or he was just really spacy and VERY overly communicative. Everyone listened intently as the midwife talked us through the anatomy of birth, but none of us felt the need to verbally signal that we were tracking what she was saying–except Mr. Wolf Tail. He could not help but nod in agreement with really any point the midwife said, but he carried it a step further by continuously saying things like: interesting, I agree, yes (not as a response to a question), okay, etc.
But the Wolf Tails were not the only Portlandia experience. The second birth video they had us watch was something else. It was of a Mexican midwife during the birth of her third child. The video opened with her talking about her husband, a Japanese sculptor, who was very in tune with the birth process due to the nature of his art. He would slowly, patiently carve his sculptures, giving birth to them as it where.
At one point the video, which goes from her early labor all the way through to her water birth, cuts away from her and her husband to a pair of mating dragonflies. Husband and I have talked it over and we aren’t really sure what that scene signifies. Were the couple having sex to help labor along and this was their classy way of showing it? Or was it just a representation of their love?
I really don’t know.
But it gets more interesting. The next scene showed pregnant momma walking forwards with her husband holding her hands and walking backwards. Her narration explains that she realized that when she was walking towards her husband it felt like her belly was swollen with their love, but when she ended up walking away from him it was physically painful, so his solution was to walk with her.
Watching the video with seven other pregnant couples was an interesting and slightly uncomfortable experience. I am pretty sure we all avoided eye contact. Especially when we learned that it was the mother’s father who did all the filming. Imagine your father—or for you men imagine your father-in-law—filming the birth of your child and all the beautiful, naked glory that it entails. I mean her birth ends in the bath tub with her naked with her naked husband, and then after the baby is born, the other two naked children climbed in. Now I have nothing against nudity, especially during childbirth, but I cannot imagine sharing that much with my father.
All of these very Portlandia experiences have me convinced that I would love to be a writer for the show, but I am pretty sure that is just the lazy part of myself speaking. EVERYONE who lives in Portland could contribute to the content of that show. It wouldn’t really take much talent or effort as just living here is enough to supply anyone with enough material for ten tv shows.