I actually got off pretty lightly during pregnancy. Sure, I had terrible morning sickness – or, as I became fond of calling it, ‘all fucking day sickness’. Sure, I developed stretch marks that looked like somebody had tipped a bowl of purple spaghetti over me (not just on my stomach, on my boobs too! Yay!) And sure, my bladder was so squished that it could only hold a walnut-sized amount of wee, meaning that in the last month I was getting up at least three times a night to make a mad dash to the loo. But so far, so normal.
I wasn’t one of those neat pregnant women. You know the ones: they wander around serenely, looking for all the world like they have swallowed half a basketball but other than that, nothing else has changed. I spread. My feet were so swollen I could only wear flip flops, and the measurement around my bump was forty eight inches. That’s four. Feet. Round. I was so big, I actually broke the bath.
I also developed the most terrible haemorrhoids, or ‘ass-torrhoids’, as my darling boyfriend ‘wittily’ named them. They were the particularly attractive sort that actually protrude from your arse, and they were so big that when they finally did retreat I was left with an inch-long flap of overstretched skin hanging that can only be described as a tail. Yes, pregnancy gave me a fucking tail.
So, as you can imagine, by the time month nine rolled around, I was ready to get that baby out of me.
I did all the things they tell you to do. I bounced on a birthing ball, I ate copious amounts of pineapple and curry (the theory being that anything that will, er, get you moving will also get you moving, so to speak), and I had sex. A lot of sex. Not the sort of sex that had got the baby in there in the first place; this was purely functional.
“I don’t like pregnancy sex – it makes me feel used!” came the cry from my boyfriend one night as I demanded another round and then swatted off his attempts at romance (who could feel that sorry for him, though, after the ass-torrhoids thing?)
“No kissing! We’re not doing this for fun – it’s to get this baby moving! I just want your spunk!” I yelled in return (NB as well as the action of sex supposedly getting things going, it is said that sperm itself actually contains a chemical that softens the cervix and can trigger labour.) “Now do it as hard as you can – come on, put your back into it!” Put your back into it. I actually said that.
Nothing worked. After three days of sporadic contractions, I ended up going into hospital when I was ten days overdue to be induced. First came a cervical sweep, where they basically slide a finger (or two) inside you and try to push it through your cervix to separate the membrane of your waters from your womb, which can sometimes kickstart labour. Not for me though.
Next was a pessary-type thing which looked like a teeny tampon. This is inserted and worn for twenty four hours, with the same aim as the cervical sweep in mind. Alas, nothing. So out came the giant crochet hook, which was used to pop my waters – then the drip which would send me immediately into active labour. There is no build-up of the contractions when you do it this way; it’s straight in to the Baby Party. Because of this, I chose to have an epidural, but what is called a ‘walking’ one. This meant I could still feel my contractions, but they went from ‘I’m going to die from the pain, it’s not possible to feel this much pain and live’ down to ‘I’m not going to die, I’m just going to pass out a bit and swear a lot’.
A few hours later, it was time to push. The best way to describe it is like trying to do the most enormous poo you have ever done. And talking of poo, I did. Poo, that is. With every push. Happens to most people, apparently. My daughter, keen to get in on the action, decided to do a poo herself – when she was halfway out. Yes darling, you shat in my vagina. There’s a story for when you bring your first boyfriend home.
I had both my partner and my Mum with me at this stage. Unfortunately, my Mum got the camera out early and there were some pictures taken that should never have been – needless to say, they were swiftly deleted when I got my hands on it. I don’t know what she was going to do with them. Having experienced this all before and taken it in her stride, perhaps she’d become so desensitised that she considered it ‘edgy’ material for the annual Christmas round robin.
But hey – it doesn’t all end with the poo. Once that was all done and dusted, I had the dubious honour of having a ‘very complicated’ tear, which meant that several medical people peered at it before announcing, “I’m not doing that” and going to get someone else. They eventually hauled out someone brave enough to do it, but not before I’d lost quite a lot of blood. Luckily, I was oblivious, happily concentrating on cleaning the poo from between my daughter’s tiny toes with a cotton bud. Such glamour!
So was it worth it? The pain, the tears, the absolute lack of dignity? Well, of course it was.
And hey, it can’t have been that bad. We’ve just started planning the next!