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Taming of the Shrewd

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- The continuing diary of an accidental mother - Week 38

The last and latest NCT meet-up we were talking about breastfeeding. 'Apparently' breast-feeding doesn't hurt, just like how labour doesn't hurt. Ladies, I beg to differ.

"It does hurt."

"Accidental Mum?"

"It does hurt."

"Not if you got the latch right."

"If being the operative word."

Beam me up Scotty!

Breast-feeding really does hurt for the majority of women, at least for the first few hours/days and if unlucky enough to suffer with mastitis (think fever, piercing red hot shooting pains, cracked, bleeding septic nipples) - it is agonizing.

"Okay, so if you are having trouble... does anyone know anything about tongue-tie?"

I'm speechless or rather hold my own. Tongue-tie is a condition I didn't hear mention of, nay even a whisper, when pregnant with my first son. These days it seems to be all the rage. It's absolutely de rigeur to have your new-born's skin beneath the tongue cut. Apparently it will help with the painless breast-feeding. It's bullshit (except in severe cases), basically another angst/worry/con/product/service to sell to gullible middle class women who seem to lap it up. I say middle class as this is the prism through which I view the world, and from this vantage, it's crystal clear the baby business is booming.

I don't get it. What is it with women? As a gender we seem to be our own nemesis. The rubbish we tell/sell ourselves is far more detrimental to the modern female psyche than the shit men mete out.

Thus ensconced in twee Mummydom nibbling biccies and sipping mint tea I got to thinking about how crap I am at being a woman. My grooming efforts are risible, I am fashion unconscious, never diet, don't do handbags, heels, manicures, pedicures, or lunch (unless you are paying.) I guess I am a lesser sort of woman. Jesus Christ, the more I think about it I might even be a man.

If men endured labour they would no doubt boast of their bravery in conquering the physical ordeal. Their stretch marks would take on the importance of tribal scars tattooed in various colours. They would glorify the pain and gore of birth: "I tell you the wee blighter was a 10 pounder, imagine the state of my nunny - here let me show you."

Down the pub and there's a twang of labia as Male A recounts his birth experience to Males B & C.

C takes a sip of his pint before declaring,

"You had it easy mate, at one stage the doctor had his entire forearm up me."

Male B looks at C with pity. "Pah that's bleeding foreplay that is."

Women tend not to express themselves so vividly, doing our utmost to retain our feminine mystique. We don't dwell on the flood of human effluvia and all that happens when the pushing season starts. Men, techy by nature, would revel in the drug taking, gobbling every thing available.

"Man, I was so high I mistook a shit for the baby,' or worse, - the reverse. In contrast we feel guilt and failure for not being woman enough to have had a vaginal birth.

In the aftermath where we settle for paper pants and pink boxes of discreet pads our brothers would play 'one-man-up ship' on the incontinence stakes.

"Six months incontinent mate."

"Hah, try life."

Women whisper the word episiotomy; our brave boys would pound their fists against their chests rejoicing in the number of stitches received.

C declares, "A cool 10".

"That's a nip,' B derides C at every chance, 'Twenty five mate, top that.'

"Twenty five!' A is amused, 'Don't annoy me. Ripped all the way to my anus."

High fives and shots all round...

"Accidental Mum.... Are you alright?"

"What?" The NCT lady was peering kindly at me.

"Sorry, I dozed off."

"We were talking about birthing plans. Have you written your plan yet?"

Readers... If you are a first timer who falls in the following category: an educated, career woman, who has read all the books, done the anti natal yoga, NCT classes, booked doulas, maybe even rented a birthing pool, I suspect your plan will be something along these lines.

Aim: To have a natural birth with as little medical intervention as possible. Gas and air as a last resort but definitely no epidural.

There will be further specifications; music, candles, cord cutting, what to do with the placenta, skin on skin action etc. but guess what? When those waves of pain hit.... Let's just say things often have a habit of not going to plan - and certainly not the one scrawled on your perfumed notelet.

Hey, I'm not here to rain on all your parades. You may be lucky. There are those for whom birth is a phenomenal and empowering experience. For the others i.e. a disproportionate amount of my friends/peers, the experience of birth has turned out to be a) vastly at odds with their expectations, or worst-case scenario b) traumatic.

Why this huge discrepancy?

Could it be women seem to conveniently forget they have walked into a hospital? There is nothing natural about a hospital. How any woman could 'get into the birthing zone' in such an environment is beyond me. Once you step over that threshold the chances are there will be medical intervention.

"So... your birthing plan?" The only plan I have is to get out of here as fast as possible.

"I'm forgoing the plan this time round." There were gasps murmurs. But... but ... you're middle class how can you do this?

"Don't tell me you've opted for..." the next word was hard for the NCT lady to utter, "an elective Caesarean."

Due to my advanced age the obstetrician offered me an early induction i.e. on my exact due date rather than the two weeks later, which is more normal. This coincided with a stretch of four consecutive free days in the Glam Rocker's diary, after which he would be touring the world with Gaga for the subsequent eight months.

Choosing to be induced I have prioritised granting GR a window of opportunity in which he can bond with his baby rather than let nature take it's course.

"I am being induced so I guess it will end in a caesarean."

"Not necessarily," she says. Not necessarily!

Here we go again with this rose-tinted cack. Okay, there is a chance the baby might be delivered naturally but it is a very slim one and I would rather prepare myself for the more likely option.

"Well best of luck, however it turns out."

Class over there is a mass shuffle to exist as eight heavily pregnant women dash for the loo... in the queue we exchange emails and promise we'll meet up again - after our respective Interlopers have arrived, safe and sound, in pristine perfect condition - as nature intended - via the stork.

P.S. Note to self - Just think in a couple of weeks you'll be back in your size zero jeans and the latest Louboutins! Can't wait ; )

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