LEFT: Look at the hair – look at the mental floral curtain/wallpaper/dado combo – look at the Mona Lisa smile that says “Oh yes, I’m a pregnant woman of today, I’m huge and I’m proud and I’m loving being pregnant so much that once this baby is out, I’m going right ahead and having another five or six at the very least – I’m going to give Ma Walton a run for her money”. But most of all, yes, LOOK AT THAT BELLY!
Cut to RIGHT: and where’s that serene smile of smug self-satisfaction? Where’s the list of ten or so other baby names for the ones that follow this first one out – where’s the mental floral wallpaper/curtain combo and why do I have the distracted look of the recently condemned? Because I don’t like pain, very probably; because I equate pain with not feeling very well and I can’t shift into the ‘productive pain’ mindset that all the midwives tell you to focus on, and right now, my neat little birth plan which said : “ten minutes tops, no drugs” has already gone clean out of the window and I am up to my ears in epidural top-ups at 3 hour intervals. That look says: “Shit. Nobody told me it’d hurt THIS much.”.
15 minutes shy of 24 hours later, and I’ve never felt more out-of-body than I did right then. I’d been starved, strapped, strung up, sliced open and had metal instruments of torture inserted into regions nobody has a right to stand around staring at.
LEFT: taken less than a minute after my baby girl was born – less than another minute later I handed her to an astonished, bewildered-looking new father and promptly threw up all over some staff and hospital equipment. Then I went into shock and had to have an injection to stop me shaking. It wasn’t the beautiful experience I’d expected. In fact traumatic I’d say. Perhaps for the both of us.
RIGHT: This is the day after and Alice is less than 24 hours old. We’re both a little in shock I think, but at least she’s not having to sit astride an inflated rubber ring, having terrifyingly painful trips to the loo and wondering how quick-set concrete breasts suddenly appeared inside a nursing brassiere.
It’s lovely to think that my gorgeous girl used to be able to fit in the palm of my hand like a puppy and even more astounding that the little critter that emerged from the nethers of my reproductive organs is today the most wonderful person I’ve ever had the fortune to be in the same room with. She delights, confounds, challenges, educates, amuses and makes me eternally glad every day that she was born. It’s certainly not true that you forget the pain of childbirth, but for our resulting relationship I would go through a hundred more excruciating labours. She is the most precious part of my world. Happy 22nd Birthday my darling, darling puppy xxxx