|Pic from Kaboodle|
‘When I was pregnant I asked my Mum what labour was like,’ she said.
There were three of us in the shop downstairs. One mother and two with no idea.
‘Her reply was, well love, it's like pooing out a football.’
‘Aaargh!’ we cried.
‘It’s funny really, it's not the sort of thing my Mum would normally say.’
I was still wincing at the thought half an hour later. My first school friend was due to give birth any day and I didn’t know how she was going to manage it. It sounded impossible.
The childbirth talk continued into the afternoon.
‘It’s like having a bad stitch,’ the mother expanded. ‘A bad stitch in the wrong place.’
I felt a little better. I could cope with a stitch. I recalled my PE teacher telling us to lift our arms and run through the pain.
I don’t know if it’s the pain that worries me or the indignity of lying in the midst of all these strangers with my legs wide open. I’ve heard you have different midwives and by the end of the experience half the hospital has prodded your intimate bits, including a class of interns and a bored janitor.
A miracle of life it may be, but it’s not one of the beautiful ones is it?
My cousin told me the program ‘One Born Every Minute’ makes her cry.
Well I can’t watch it, it makes me noxious. All that blood and slime. No thank you.
I’ve been brought up by parents who would take homeopathic remedies to cure a broken leg. It’s obviously influenced me and I half believe if I take drugs while in labour the baby might have issues with its aura later on. It won’t be the right colour purple or something.
‘Gas and Air,’ I tell my husband, during another childbirth conversation. ‘That’s all I’ll take.’
‘You won’t be able to cope.’
‘I have a high pain threshold!’ I argue.
You’ll see, I think, you’ll see.
My friend has her baby a couple of days later. We whisper on the phone because the little one is asleep.
‘How was labour?’ I ask.
‘Worse than they say.’
My heart sinks. How can it be worse than they say when they say that it’s the worst thing ever.
‘We’re having goldfish,’ I tell my husband.
But the truth is a part of me is stirred by what has happened to my friend.
I see the first few photos of the baby in his new home. So small, so vulnerable, so loveable.
‘Wow, you have a son,’ I murmur.
She sounds so happy. I know she can’t stop staring at him.
The pain, the sleepless nights, she says, it’s all worth it.
Yes, I think, when the time comes I’ll be able to do it.
The following morning I go running.
Five minutes in and I’ve got a killer stitch. It’s so bad I have to stop.
I think of my PE teacher telling me to run through the pain.
You run through the bloody pain, I think.
I try but I can’t. It feels like burning.
‘It’s like a stitch in the wrong place,’ the mother had said.
No drugs, I'd told my husband.
Doubt washes over me.
Goldfish, I think, would make us very happy.