Wednesday, June 03, 2009

A Birthing Partner writes 2

“It's funny, I don’t seem to have had any cravings in pregnancy,” said Mrs Brit, and proceeded to eat her fifteenth orange ice-lolly of the afternoon.

At least she’s got an excuse for her brain-scramble. I can only blame mine on this unwarranted blast of summer. Things are becoming fractious. Doors are sticking, paint is peeling. The shower, for some reason, is refusing to settle at a reasonable temperature; the only way to manage is to continually switch between a low heat on the high setting and a high heat on the low setting, and duck in there quick as it journeys back and forth between freeze and scald. Sleep is elusive and, even when you catch it, broken.

Today’s antenatal class was all about pain and complications. The attendance dwindles weekly, but only one more to go. Before moving on to the good stuff (drugs) the midwife ran perfunctorily through some ‘alternative’ pain strategies. Apparently you’re welcome to take in your own aromatherapy gunk, or even your own acupuncturist or hypnotherapist if you like (visions of Paul McKenna waving a watch-chain at writhing unmentionables). They’re all effective, if they’re effective for you, says our midwife, though she drew the line at chanting mantras.

“Some people believe that Positive Affirmation helps,” she said, and wrote Positive Affirmations on the board. Then she paused for a moment and added: “But no, that doesn’t really work.” She drew a cross next to it.

We emerged blinking and befuddled into the sunlight. The unfamiliar is all around us, but we have to build a little world to welcome our offspring. Whatever we make will be his or her norm. It’s an anxious prospect, when you think about it, though most of the time it feels like a treat is coming. I expect next week it will rain and sanity will return.

Mrs B rests her ice-lolly hand on her belly, which wriggles and beats in response. All the time and getting closer, the drumming, drumming in the deep…

16 comments:

malty said...

Brit, it's all stretching out in front of you, the tableau of parenthood, the haemorrhaging wallet, disposable or not disposable nappies, has your motor got the latest Euro spec child seat anchorages, the endless hours in Mothercare, Toys R Us and The Early Learning Centre, babies first word so mind your ham sandwich, yes, I remember it well, long behind us now, what japes.

Brit said...

We're thinking about having a swear box, Malty. But we're waiting til we've finished watching The Wire first, otherwise we'll both be broke.

worm said...

It's quite weird to think of there being a living creature growing inside someone, living parasitically off them. Im glad Im not a woman, as I have to say that it would truly freak me out.

Interesting that the only 'artistic' representation of this freudian anxiety I can think of is in the Alien films, you'd think it would be a more common motif, but then is the actual act of birth depicted in much art? Alluded to certainly via nice images of spring and happy lambs and things, but not often shown. Perhaps it is too elemental a force to be tackled? Artistic representation couldn't do justice to the creation of human life itself?

Brit said...

Too right, Worm, it's horrible really.

And you're right, there does seem to be a distinct lack of birth art in the canon. Maybe it's because its always been such a risky business, pre modern medicine. One to put to Nige, I think.

Ian Woolcott said...

My two have recently taken to repeating their mother's occasional slips: the standard exclamatory "shit" and "ofuck!" as they say it. Oops. I'm training them to say "hell's bells!" instead.

Peter Burnet said...

The time has come for you to gently and lovingly remind Mrs. Brit that the objective is not to give the perfect birth, but rather to have a baby, and also to make sure your pocket is always full of change so you can buy her an orange ice-lolly or anything else she damn well wants whenever she wants.

Yes, a treat is coming.

Ali said...

Have you decided on a name yet?

Brit said...

Well we've ruled a lot out, Ali. Generally I suggest a ridiculous name and Mrs B vetoes.

Ian - how about 'Jumpin' Jehosaphat' as an alternative ejaculation?

Hmmm.... Jehosaphat, must suggest that one to Mrs B...

worm said...

I would suggest Freduardo for a boy

and Candelabra for a girl

Nige said...

Well Brit since you ask - there's Rosemary's Baby too, for the nightmare aspect of birth. The good stuff is all after the event - all those lovely nativities (and one or two circumcisions, come to think)...Then there's Courbet's painting of , er, where babies come from - The Source Of Life is it called? Not to be reproduces on a family blog...

Brit said...

Ah yes, a quick search suggests the offending painting is called The Origin of the World, Nige.

There's a Ray Bradbury story called The Small Assassin, I think, which deals with a particular and weird phobia - fully-conscious babies.

Sophie King said...

I refer you all to The Rabbit Woman of Godalming....
http://www.skepdic.com/toft.html

Brit said...

Good grief, Sophie. Mind you, it makes sense - apparently the father was called...


...wait for it...


Warren.

Gaw said...

I enjoyed your LotR's reference. Mrs Brit's first name isn't Maria or perhaps Moira by any chance? As in the Battle of?

How about Balrog if it's a boy?

Brit said...

I did actually suggest Gollum, Gaw. Vetoed again.

'Only if it's a boy,' I protested, reasonably. Still no go.

elberry said...

If i recall aright, Heloise called the boy she had by Abelard 'Astrolabe'.