My hand reached high above my head. "Pick me, pick me," I cried, provoking an instant recall of school days. Personally, the best part of class was waving an upward pointed arm and then the satisfaction of getting an answer right. It pissed the peers off on two counts; firstly I was Ms. Smug Know It All and secondly, I had yet to discover deodorant. But hey that was then. The here and now was in a North West London front room with a group of middle age, middle class mums much like myself at a refresher NCT course.
Pregnant with BoyWonder I didn't bother with the NCT, besides organised socialising creeps me out. Back then I has a career to attend to and a second novel to write 'Spilt Milk'. However thirteen years on I realised it would be beneficial to have a support system of sorts, especially as the teen would be in boarding school and the Glam Rocker in absentia - (while he was off partying with Gaga, I'd be tripping the light fantastic with Goo-Goo). Thus I decided to do a refresher course along with a handful of other 'been there, done that,' ladies.
Class began by sharing our first time birthing experiences. Out of the eight of us gathered one had had the perfect birth, inclusive of a super supportive mother, hands on partner plus no doubt the elastic snap back vagina. She was also gorgeous. Moi jealouse? Yeah right, like totalement. Still, it didn't stop us drowning out her good vibes with tales of vaginal trauma, 40 hour labour, episiotomies, emergency caesareans, 3rd degree natural tears, inductions, Ventuse etc. etc... oh the joys of child birth.
First time around one thing I did attend was ante natal yoga classes. We were told to imagine breathing out pink ribbons when the labour pains struck.
Personally, I abhor this unadulterated airbrushed birthing SHITE. Sure a natural birth can be empowering but to dismiss the intense pain of it just makes me want to poke my fingers into random people's eyes. Most irritating of all is this female conspiracy of silence about the reality of labour, which for many does not turn out as envisaged.
So in the front room, a NCT teacher posed the following question, "What does one do when contractions begin?"
My arm shot up. I knew this one.
"Scream," I answered.
This response was met with disdain: "Wrong... You need to be in control. Screaming evokes the idea of someone who has lost control."
"Wrong!" I suddenly came over all John McEnroe. Was she serious? She could not be serious? How could she possibly say that?
"Accidental Mum... did you want to add something?"
"Well... yes I do. Perhaps scream is not the exact word required but how about a deep primal roar of agony, like you're in control but still acknowledging the trauma of one's body being slowly ripped open."
"Hmmm... maybe... not." The teacher has me down as a trouble maker.
After discussing the opening of one's cervix, we were invited to try positions to help with bearing the pain of the contraction. I knelt, head resting on a chair. We were told to envisage... wait for it... melting an ice cube in one slow exhalation. This reminded me of the billowing pink ribbons, I was not buying it. This time I was definitely not buying it.
"Give me an alternative," I said pointing my fingers at the teacher's eyes.
"O.K. L.E.T. M.E. S.E.E." Each word overly pronounced issued through pursed lips. Boy but she really didn't like me, "How about you imagine encouraging your baby down the birth canal with supportive words."
So there I was bent over giving it all, my best Oscar performance to date, pretending I was in a vice of pain whilst yelling at the Interloper to... "Hurry the fuck up".
Class ended, there was talk of coffee but by the time I got my coat and organised myself, the hallway was empty, even the teacher had disappeared.
Jeez, I sniffed my underarms and guessed some things never change.