Does your other half know exactly what a 'bloody show' is – and love you even more for having had one?
In other words, does having a baby – and all the bodily functions that go with it – stop you worrying quite so much about all the so-called embarrassing stuff?Before kids, there was only so much that you could reveal to your partner that could cause you embarrassment. The smell of the bathroom after that tummy bug you picked up in Spain. A packet of Canestan left in the bedroom which he wondered whether or not was 'OK for his shaving rash'. A tube of posh French cellulite cream with the words "Zones Rebelles" in large letters on the front.
But for me, it all seemed quite mortifying. Like blots on my copybook of mystery. Cracks in my façade. Proof that I was human, goddamn me.
Then came pregnancy. Suddenly, my bodily functions became a bit more – shall we say – random. And frequent. And public. 'Spotting' had to be explained, in front of my husband.
The midwife kept discussing 'ripe cervixes' and sweeps and I started wondering if the strange look on my other half's face was because he was worried whether he'd get back from the hospital in time for QI, or because he'd actually been listening to the words she was saying. Which would be a lot worse.
During my first pregnancy I also remember becoming obsessed with the fear of pooing when I gave birth. Every book and magazine reassured me it was very common. Was that mean to make me feel any better? How was I supposed to prepare for this awful occurrence: leave the bathroom door open from now on when I went in for a number two? Go for a 1970s style enema before birth? Cancel the whole thing? It was too much to take in. Or indeed push out.
Thankfully, during labour I had my turning point. It all stopped being so much about me, my space hopper-esque abdomen and pooing in front of people – and started being about another little person and getting them safely into the world.
I recall at one point in the throws of labour with my first baby, shouting, 'My waters have gone!' at the midwife. She came over to where I was hanging over the back of the bed on all fours (the glamour), peered up my gown and said, 'No, that's just mucus'.The old me, the me with the 'Zones Rebelles' cellulite cream, would have died of shame. But this me was pushing an 8lb baby out of her vuvuzela, and couldn't have given a toss what the man sitting on a chair in the corner clutching the gas and air tube and a packet of Fruit Mentos thought. As for the pooing, yup, I reckon I did. Do I care? Not so much.
When we got home, I, like many mums with newborns, spent the first week on the couch with a v-shaped cushion squeezing my breasts about – and getting through a frightening amount of absorbent pads of different shapes and sizes for various orifices.
I didn't feel it was necessary to share in too much detail why I needed a rubber ring to sit on, but the rest of it was fair game. Hand expressing? Check me out. Maternity pads? Off you go to Boots and get me the really big ones. Lochia? Pull up a chair and let me tell you all about it. It was like the me that cringed about the Canestan had never existed.
And you know what? When questioned the other day for the purposes of this article, the husband in question told me that he didn't mind all the bodily function sharing. "Earthy is good" were his very words.
And I agree with him – as long as it doesn't mean he's going to start leaving the bathroom door open when he goes for a number two. Having children can bring two people closer in a lot of different ways – and this is definitely one of them. It's a great leveller. It says, 'we're two human bodies, and we're making another one'.
It's going to be messy. And isn't that great?
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