I’m now 37 weeks pregnant. It’s a blast. Couldn’t feel better. Apart from the discomfort, mood swings and weight gain. At the beginning of this year my boobs tilted up and blinked at the sun. Now they’re looking left and right like they’re anxious about being followed. And I still have three weeks to grow. There’s a lot to worry about. Like the fact my other half has started calling me dude. I’m eight and a half months pregnant. This is not the time bro.
I was discussing postnatal psychosis over pizza the other night when my brother-in-law interrupted his girlfriend: “Why are you discussing postnatal psychosis with the woman who thought she could get Zika from a midgie bite in Croydon?” In my defense it was a vicious midgie and he’s a doctor – it was responsible to check. In her defense everyone tells horror stories because they’re the good ones. It turns out most people have one of their own or by proxy. And why not? If the number of pints you got through in a weekend amounts to an anecdote, surely birth is too.
You rarely hear these stories before you’re expecting. Sure, I’d enjoyed tales of my own mythical origins: my mother breezing through on a cloud of gas and air, champagne filled visits, my brother eating Seville oranges while she did Canadian military exercises before swanning out of the hospital with me, the exceptional baby.
I never knew you might spray the walls with shit. I hadn’t heard of lateral episiotomies, blood loss, emergency theatre, botched stitches, months spent on rubber rings. Or the tools: forceps, ventouse, and horror… the fecal sieve.
Positive stories are shared discreetly as if people are ashamed of their good luck. Not me. I’m a contrary creature. Now that I can administer my own drug supply freely and under expert supervision, I want to go it alone, in a water bath picturing rainbows and omming. Yes, I’ve decided to enjoy the best birth ever boasted about.
So you can imagine my surprise on the weekend when I heard about a couple so overwhelmed by the beauty of the experience that they had sex right there in the hospital. They did what? I needed more details but my friend was digressing. That hadn’t occurred to her, not for a long time after the birth, because of some damage. “They had sex right there in the hospital. Imagine…” she said again with wide-eyed wonder as she pulled on her coat and her husband fastened their toddler in his pram.
I am now obsessed with the sex couple. Sure, I know people who had sex to bring on labour but not within moments of it ending. How did they manage to secure a private room? I was told they’re in short supply. Did they do it on a gurney in a crowded corridor? I need the facts but can’t get them. I don’t know the couple and I don’t have Jayne’s number. What I do know is that I’ve been prepping for a competition I can’t win. I can’t beat screwing in the hospital. I already checked with my husband. “No way dude!” he grimaced.
We’re not speaking.