Saturday, 23 February 2008

The happiest day of your life???

The Birth

“Let us know if you feel the incision,” joked a gowned Spanish consultant who was busy thrusting her arms into wild contorted positions. Well, if there was ever a time for humour this was indeed it – lying prone, unable to see past my mahoosive breasts (never mind bump) with half shaven nether regions smiling up at the assembled throng of doctors and anaesthetists like a gleeful garden gnome who’d forgotten his hat. All I could see were blinding lights above me, a paddling pool style material that separated me from the horror film behind and my husband, resplendent in his ER scrubs and flattering blue shower cap. Earlier he’d commented dryly how he looked idiotic in it - like he even existed in the baby birthing experience! It was all I could do not to sock him one. If I’d been able to get up off the bed by myself I just might have. And there was me thinking I looked my best: pale, hair stuck to my sweaty head, hollow eyed, with two sacks of spuds hanging on either side of me (where my long lamented pert breasts had once pointed north) nipples as big and as hairy as peaches and zebra striped legs (on account of me only being able to shave certain bits). This was no Hello scene of serenity with diptique candles, warm water pools and The White Company cashmere rugs swaddling Mother and child. This was elephant woman on a slab, drugged to the eyeballs, looking out for a hot looking intern to flirt with.
I’d made friends with the anaesthetist already when she’d come to weigh me. When she asked if I would be part of a test they were running all to do with epidurals and blood pressure I had readily agreed – keep in the with those that control the drugs was my motto. She was my pusher and I, her keen disciple, was happy to do whatever she wanted me to – if she’d asked me to mop up the surgery floor when they were done, I’d have given it a shot. In theatre, before any of the fun and games had started, they had placed high tech looking instruments on my collarbone to measure my heart rate or something. To be honest, I wasn’t really listening. I was thinking about all the pink and glittery dainty wee girl’s outfits I’d be buying as soon as I could get into baby Gap. Isn’t that the real reason to have children? So we can fashion them into mini-mes and boast about them at parties when we’ve run out of stuff to talk about? Anyway, the epidural was in, it was stations a go-go and the damn pushers kept telling me to stay still. As if I had any say on the matter. They’re the ones that had drugged me up higher than a supermodel at a rock gig - they should know what dose to give me. There were concerned looks all round as my body began its own private dance. From tits down I was stone still but from the neck up I was a jerking freezing mess, grinding my jaws into a soft pulp with my free arm flailing like an unleashed hippy. Through chattering teeth I told husband “I feel like I’ve popped ten Es in the height of the summer of love.”
“Will you keep your voice down, you’re about to a Mother,” was his even frostier response.
It was all right for him. He knew what we were having. Week 21, scan number two, had revealed the big secret that he had been desperate to find out and I had been desperate not to know. I had left the room already in tune with my body and baby I didn’t need the nice scanner lady with frosted tips and squeaky shoes to confirm that the jumping bean was a girl. I never for one moment thought that it would be anything other than female. It would be a gorgeous beautiful baby girl and that’s all there was to it. It’s nothing against boys of course, I just don’t understand them – never have, never will. Their ability to only have one thought at a time, to retain trivial information on sport, to think with their penises or stomachs (depending on time of day and units of alcohol consumed) and their strange toilet habits. Aliens, the lot of them. Girls – now, I get girls: highly strung, seduced by sparkly things, obsessed with the ultimate handbag, pacified by cake, the eternal jugglers of life – having a baby girl would be a walk in the park. Just to be sure that my intuition wouldn’t let me down, I’d visited a fortune teller and got a police officer mate to grill husband politely at a mate’s BBQ. Both had come back positive that my little bundle would indeed be a pink one. During my prison sentence of a pregnancy, whenever someone had kindly declared they just knew I was having a boy, I would force a smile, nod indulgently and silently wish them a horrible death. I was smug and sure. My first born was to be a cherubic little girl.
“It’s a Lugerghh” I heard someone say as the Doctors root around my internal handbag had reached epic proportions and suddenly a huge weight lifted from me. I felt instantly thinner. I held my breath. I was about to meet her. I tried to lift my head and hear the sex. The fifteen strong team were too busy confabbing about something and my midwife had disappeared so I barked at the husband to let me in on the secret. “What is it?” I demanded, every muscle clenched (well the ones left that I had any control over – so maybe a bit of a frown).
“A boy!” Husband was triumphant.
I wanted to murder him. His eyes were all a-glow and he smiled that wonky smile that suggests there are tears to follow. I could hardly bear to look at him. At first I could see husband thought this was due to the enormity of this precious moment but as he began to register my beyond thunderous look, fear crossed his face and he realised my silence was simply containing an overwhelming rage.
“You made me think it was a girl.” I spat, gulping in case I cried.
“No… a boy,” he said somewhat unsteadily. He knew my tone all too well. It was the calm before the almighty storm.
All around me there was relief as said boy let out a huge roar. As the little mite announced his place in the world I was thinking I have just gone through 9 months of something akin to hell and all for a boy.
“Congratulations!” The Spanish consultant was delighted behind her mask. “I knew it was a boy!”
I seethed. All I could see were pink spotted tights, fairy costumes and deep crimson ribbons dancing away over the horizon. In their place muddy rugby shirts, bad smells and big spiky trucks were lumbering over the hill. Something was seriously wrong with this picture. This was not part of my plan. In fact this was as far from my plan as you could get. Husband had gone over to collect his spawn. As the blotchy bloodied bundle was wrapped in a yellow blanket husband had watched its eyes become accustomed to the light and asked the midwife in a shaky voice if his newborn was blind. Clearly he hadn’t bothered to read any birthing books whatsoever – mind you as I had refused ever to do birth, I couldn’t blame him.
He brought the grizzly bunny towards me and introduced the little fella to his Mother. A tear fell off the end of husband’s nose. Many tears fell off the inside of me as I stared at this strange mutant who had arrived to turn my world upside down. Was there instant bonding? In a word, no. Husband went to dress the baby and I lay there cursing his ability to double bluff me so well. Several times he had slipped up with the odd ‘she’ littered in his conversations – each one music to my ears and yet more confirmation that my longed for daughter was but weeks away. The room seemed to empty as a much smaller team worked their stitching magic, busier than Santa’s helpers on Xmas eve. I was still doing the shaky dance and waiting for the famous Motherhood hormones to kick in. I was a Mother. Nothing ever would define me so instantly again – not marriage, a degree, being blonde or the ability to win every game of 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon – I was a Mum and that was my new pigeon hole. Was I supposed to cry, feel a sudden understanding of why we are all on this tiny planet and instantly know every nursery rhyme backwards? Well I had skipped that gene for sure. Being wheeled to recovery all I could think - was how long would it be until my breasts would feel like mine again and could I drink lychee martinis if breast feeding? The bundle was finally placed in my arms and a busy looking midwife suggested that I might like to breast feed him now. ‘Like to’? I like to read magazines. I like thick clotted cream with anything. I like pedicures. Breast feeding was something I had to do, not because I ‘liked to.’
I flopped a breast out from under my dreary hospital gown. What a sad specimen it was. My son was meant to be enticed by that? I lifted his tiny head and pushed it in the general direction and low and behold he latched on and began to suck for all he was worth. I recoiled. His wee gums clamped down and rubbed my tender flesh in a motion that I’m sure 18th century torturers would have loved to have known. He smacked his lips and shut his eyes. “I think he's got some there!” the midwife encouraged and I felt like I had won an Olympic gold. I was an earth Mother after all...

No comments: