It's only 9 months... but it feels like Maternity...

Now Known As Postnatal Oppression

Saturday, February 03, 2007

I am Gigantasaurus Rex. The belly looks like a basketball with legs. The annoying thing is that everything fits until it comes to doing it up over my waist or boobs. Anything with a waistband slides down my bum so that I have to walk along like a cowboy who's just dismounted, hoiking everything back up.

We went to see the labour ward. The midwife collected us from the entrance to the maternity wing, then showed us into a smallish room with a bed and an enormous oval bath in it. There were also lots of bits of machinery and equipment and tubes everywhere.

She began by moving parts of the bed up and down and dismantling it, to show 'how easily' they can get to your business end when they need to. The gas and air hoses were pointed out, as were the monitors and some other stuff that I'd stopped looking at. It was all done in the way torturers show their victims the equipment they're going to use on them beforehand, with probably about the same amount of relish. The enormous bath is what you can use if you want to have a water birth, although the midwife said that you have to get out of it to deliver the placenta (groo). This thing is easily 3 foot high, 7 foot long, smooth-sided, with no visible means of climbing out, so I take it they get their own back on you wanting a water birth by laughing at you struggling with your arse-end on fire, falling out of the bath and breaking your neck. Suddenly she asked us "What's missing from this room?" The husband and I looked at each other panic-stricken, then around at all the machinery, then back at the midwife blankly. "I didn't know there was going to be a test," he protested.
"A cot," was the answer. Oh right, yeah. Oops. "We're so not ready for this," the husband murmured to me.

After this, she whisked us round the postnatal ward so she could show us where we'd be once I'd got the spawn out. I have no intention of being there, I am planning on coming home the very second I'm allowed to. The ward is divided up into little sections - one for women whose babies have had to go to special care, one for ones who haven't had their babies yet, and everyone else. As we were leaving, this poor girl in her pyjamas and dressing gown got wheeled past us into the special care section. She looked like she'd seen the entrance to Hell, with tears and snot still damp on her face and her hair everywhere. There but for the grace of God...

Last antenatal class! Blimey that's gone quickly. I shall miss skiving off work for them.
This one was the one where they're supposed to explain what you actually do with this thing once it's out in the world. Thus, lots and lots and LOTS of lecturing about breastfeeding (blah blah blah yackety schmackety) although she didn't give anyone thinking of bottlefeeding a hard time, and she did acknowledge that doing it "naturally" is really bloody painful and tiring, no matter what all the hippies say. A few hints and tips about nappies, and then a doll in a plastic cot and we had to say all the things wrong with how it had been put to sleep (not in a veterinary sense). A bit of information on cot death - she stressed how important it was not to let it get overheated, and everyone looked quite shocked when she told us how her own daughter had been too bundled up and had stopped breathing, as in those days the emphasis was on not letting babies get too cold. A brief reminder that she would be checking on our chosen method of contraception once we were at home (give us a bloody chance!) and a bit about postnatal depression (oh yay - something else to look forward to).

Finally, she asked if anyone had any more questions. To which the husband piped up with "Yes - can you make her pack her bag?" Everyone's eyes swivelled towards me.
"Haven't you done it yet?" the midwife asked accusingly.
I stopped staring open-mouthed at the husband and replied "No! Last week you said I didn't have to yet!"
Her eyes narrowed. "How far gone are you?"
"34 weeks now... you said I didn't have to worry about it for a couple of weeks..." Clearly once I'd reminded her of this, she'd be back on my side.
"Yes, but you haven't even bought the stuff to go in it yet," the betrayer added. "Shut up will you?" I hissed at him through my teeth.
"34 weeks! What happens if you go into early labour at 35 weeks? Which isn't uncommon," the midwife said sternly. The rest of the group were happily watching this entertaining exchange with expressions of amusement. I opened my mouth to defend myself again, but she glared at me. "Get your bag packed young lady."
I slumped down, with a sideways dagger glance at the husband. I don't know what all the fuss is about, I can sort everything out on the day. It's going to be hours before I have to worry about going into the hospital. And anyway, how much packing does a book and a Mars Bar take?


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