C is for Caesarean Support
The strength of The Pill in the 70s was enough to stop a full-grown elephant from conceiving. I think a lot of women probably found it hard to get pregnant after a few years on it. I certainly did. I remember the excitement of coming off it and thinking ‘right then – this is it – I’m going to make a baby’. I didn’t the first month, or the second month. After three months of this it became a paranoid painfulness.
During my five years of unfruitful baby making, I always seemed to be walking past Mothercare, or bumping into random pregnant women, or listening to the excitement of friends who were pregnant.
I met my daughter’s father in January 1983. We married in March 1983. I was pregnant in April 1983. Maybe the Divine Head of Baby Making disapproved of me becoming pregnant with my previous live-in boyfriend! Who knows?
I had a perfect pregnancy until the very end – and the very end was anything but perfect. To cut a boring story short, I had wanted a natural birth. I had two ‘due’ dates for 1984. One was 2 January and the other was 5 January. I’d had enough by 11 January. I was absolutely enormous. I got so fed up with the inevitable question ‘What are you hoping for?' that I started telling people that I was hoping for a digital piano but that I had a horrible feeling it was a baby – or possibly three, by the size of me. Anyway, the hospital suggested that maybe I should be induced!
An appointment was made for the 13th. As this was a Friday, I declined and said I’d hang on a bit longer. I went in on Monday 16th. I was attached to a drip (there has to be a joke here about my ex-husband) to beat my womb into submission. Nearly worked - but not quite. ‘It’ - as I had been calling her for the past nine months, was eventually forcibly removed by caesarean section on Wednesday 18th, after two days of painful and non-productive contractions, and a fortnight later than her due date. Her father was always late for everything. No escaping the genes I guess!
I was glad it was a girl. I wanted a girl. Well, to be honest, I would have preferred a digital piano, but a girl came a close second. She was perfect and I felt so sorry for all the other mothers on the ward with their ugly babies that looked like recently skinned rabbits. I almost felt guilty that I was the only Mother on the ward who had a beautiful baby!
Now then. Enter Fenella Fielding into the story. Well not ACTUALLY Fenella Fielding, of course, but the likeness was amazing. I’d had an operation to remove the eight and a half pound foetus so baths, showers and, more importantly, hair washing were all out of the question. I had longish hair then and it hadn’t been washed for what seemed like an eternity. It was lank and greasy. In fact, as maternity wards are so hot, and with the level of grease in my hair, I could have cracked an egg on the top of my head and produced a fried one in about five minutes.
So there I am, looking greasy and tired with no make-up and clad in an appalling nightie that I had bought very quickly before my incarceration (I hadn’t possessed one until then) and Fenella Fielding arrives on the ward.
I heard the sound of her high heels first, on the lino. Black shiny shoes. They matched her black shiny stockings and her black power dressing suit and her black Gucci handbag and her black, shiny and immaculate hair in a bob and her long, possibly false, black eyelashes. Her bright red, shiny lipstick was like a beacon on a dark and damp autumnal evening.
She seemed to be approaching my bed. I was terrified and horrified at the same time. She was approaching my bed. She arrived and sat on my bed.
“Hello” she said, in a husky Fenella Fielding voice, “I’m from Caesarean Support.”
If that wasn’t bad enough, she then leaned forward and nearly had one of my eyes out with her long eyelashes as she fluttered them. Her beautifully manicured hand with (yes you’ve guessed it) bright red fingernails, placed a Caesarean Support leaflet on my lap.
I don’t like people I don’t know touching me - so it wasn’t a good start for her really. She then went on to refer to me as ‘A Mum.’ You lose your name, identity and status once you give birth, you know. You just become ‘A Mum.’ She told me that a lot of ‘Mums’ feel inadequate when they haven’t been able to give birth PROPERLY. I could feel those beginnings of lockjaw that set in when you are so annoyed that your jaw literally locks. I didn’t say anything for a while. I was too shocked. I think it was when she touched my leg and invaded my space AGAIN and told me that they were all ‘there for me’ that I told her, through painfully clenched teeth, that after what I’d been through for the past week, I couldn’t have cared which orifice my baby had come out of and that I had never, and would never, ever feel inadequate. And my parting sentence, just for good measure, and against my inner good self’s wishes, was,
“So why don’t you piss off and go and patronise someone else?”
The staccato beat of her retreating stilettos seemed faster to me than their arrival.
I never did contact Caesarean Support.
C is for Clown
And talking of giving birth, I don’t really write poetry, but this one forced its way out and took me surprise.
Fresh and alive
Of love’s performance
And all it brings
The flutter of heart
The pain of being apart
The stage is set
The truth I forget
For a while each day
When the curtain
The clownRemains on the stage