Sceptimum

One sceptical mother (of one)

The adventures of the g-string fairy

Me: Childzilla was going on and on about fairies so Nana bought her a generic fairy doll

Himself: *patient look*

Me: It looks like reject Barbie and is shedding glitter everywhere and has a bodice and petal skirt and a g-string thong on for some reason

Me: When Childzilla’s first job is as an exotic dancer called Sparkles we know what happened

Himself: *patient but slightly strained look*

gnome

Why the inexplicable lack of proper pants?

Me: Anyway, Childzilla wanted a name for it

Himself: *enquiring look*

Me: And the only one I could think of was Twunterbell

Himself: At least it didn’t start with C

Me: Oh, it did, but I changed it

Me: So fairy is now called Billie

Himself: *cautious*

Me: Because she looks like Billie Piper

Himself: *mild approval*

Me: After half a bag of coke*

…I am really not sure who thought it was a good idea to leave me in charge of a child. And the dog. Or anything really.

 

*Have a listen to Horse Outside by the Rubberbandits. Partly as it might illuminate the joke but mainly because I like it.

 

 

 

The problem with listening to nursery rhymes

Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O
That’s not how you spell farm.
And on his farm he had a cow, E-I-E-I-O
One cow, huh? Some farm.
With a moo moo here and a moo moo there
Is he feeding the cow? It seems to want some attention.
Here a moo, there a moo, everywhere a moo moo
I don’t know a lot about farming, but that cow sounds pretty upset.
Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O.

Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O.
Yes, you said.
And on his farm he had a pig, E-I-E-I-O.
Why does he have a pig? Why doesn’t he get another cow? What is he expecting the cow and pig to do, get together and breed horses*?
With a oink oink here and a oink oink there
Oh come on, MacDonald.
Here a oink, there a oink, everywhere a oink oink
Feed your goddamn animals!
Old MacDonald had a farm
Until he got reported by the RSPCA and now he’s barred from keeping animals for life.

Rock-a-bye baby, in the treetop, when the wind blows, the cradle will rock,
when the bough breaks, the cradle will fall…
Okay, this whole thing is clearly a terrible idea. I have a better version.
Rockabye baby, never you fear,social services are on their way here
Your parents, quite frankly, need straight-jackets hugs, as we strongly suspect they’re on hardcore drugs.

Hey, diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle, the cow jumped over the moon…
You know what? You guys are way too high for me. I’m out.

* If you get this, you too have watched too much Red Dwarf and we should be friends.

Write your birth plan on your vulva, Mila (it might get read that way)

According to recent interviews Mila Kunis has firm views on who gets to see her in labour. She’s allowing her doctor and Ashton Kutcher, and Ashton is only allowed if he stays firmly away from the business end.

Mila - this is not the end of you most people will be looking at during your labour.

This is not the end of Mila everyone will be looking at during her labour.

“Two people are allowed in my delivery room. My doctor and my significant other. And he is staying above the action. He’ll be head to head. Not head to vag. Unless he wants to risk his life and see. But I wouldn’t if I were him. I highly doubt he wants to see that being ripped apart and shredded. Because it will be shredded. It’s just a matter of how badly.”

Many sites, including Mamamia.com.au where I saw this story, are asking if Mila should be worried about her partner watching her bits get “shredded”. I am mainly worried that she may think it’s possible to give birth with an audience of just two people, no matter how hilariously-presented and firm her birth plan is. And that’s assuming people reads the damned thing in the first place.

Her doctor will read their birth plan. It is, after all, what they’re paying him for. And perhaps Mila’s labour will be short enough (and her wallet large enough) to persuade her doctor to stay for the whole process. I doubt it though; doctors usually leave the painful tedious hours of cervix dilation to the midwives, and then rush in at the actual emergence of the baby. It will often be several different midwifes, even without shift changes, so the person sticking their finger up your fanjo to check dilation will often be a completely different person to the one who did it an hour previously. Will they all have read the birth plan? Will they bollocks.

So that’s probably your partner plus three people having a good long look at the business end. Want some mild drugs? That’ll be another person in the room. Want the good drugs? That’ll be an anesthetist and possibly their assistant. That’s plus five. Doing it in a hospital? Expect a nurse or five. And some catering and cleaning staff. And people to operate specialised machines. And, if you get really unlucky, some student nurses and doctors. That’s… that’s plus LOTS. There is a good chance there’ll be more people at the birth of your baby that at their first birthday party.

My labour was a fast and straight-forward affair and there was still 13 people present in the room when my daughter was born. Waters broke at 6am, hit the hospital at 8am, c-section completed by 10am. It didn’t even encompass one change of working shift but I still had so many people packed in there it felt like student party in a small flat (complete with drugs and people freaking out). And all of them were having a good gander at the business end. If I’d written “hello, nice to meet you” on my vulva, I’d have saved myself most of the talking I had to do.

Honestly, I’m not even sure who half of the thirteen people were. There was me and my husband (in ridiculous little red hats to mark us out so no one would do something silly like pass us a scalpel or ask us to hold the intestines). There was my surgeon and his nurse, and my anesthetist and his nurse, and a midwife and some other midwife and that’s only eight accounted for… look, I don’t even know why the remaining people were there. They could have been vital medical staff. They could have been the cleaners. They could have been a tour group in from China and desperately lost on their way to the Opera House. I have no idea. All I know is that, for a significant amount of my stay in the hospital, there was a real chance that people would recognise my vulva better than my face.

I was told to write a birth plan. I didn’t. Thankfully absolutely no one checked or I would have been making excuses like “my early labour ate my homework”. I did discuss various options with my partner, so he knew what to push for if I was out of it, but I had nothing in writing. I have no regrets – long birth plans are, I am convinced, only recommended to stop pregnant women from nagging the staff about inconsequential details so they can get on with delivering a healthy baby. Want the father to catch the baby? Sure, if it’s possible. Want whale music? You’ll need to bring it and something to play it on and someone to press the button but whatever. Want your medical staff to read a five page document on how birth should work when they have already delivered hundreds of babies? And think you’ll only need one person present? On your fecking bike, love.

Look, this is not Mila’s fault. The general portrayal of labour and childbirth is as far removed from the reality as the Kim Jong’s family album is from coverage of them in the international news. Before childbirth, mothers-to-be are fed a shite load of stuff about choices and empowerment  and all this hoohah about how you can choose to push your baby out your hahhoo. And then the baby decides to arrive and you realise all your lists and ideas are useless and you may as well just roll with the punches. Honestly, it’s a good way to set you up for actually having a baby – they don’t read the damned plans either. Not even if you write it on your bits.

 

 

Reasons I am the world’s worst mother (this week)

It’s six months in and I’m still terrible at this parenting gig. It’s not just that I’m a bit crap; it’s that babies change so much and so fast that as soon as you get to grips with one issue another five rear their (drooling and teething) heads.

Every new week with your newbown is a glorious and amazing chance to screw up even more badly than the previous one. Just some of  reasons I am the world’s worst mother (this week) include:

Your baby. Except Onslow’s not incontinent.

Trousers? Feck.

Someone at playgroup recently asked if 6 month old babies should still wear onesies. Opinions were divided; some people thought they were good for at home wear but not going out, others thought they were only acceptable as pyjamas.

…I had no idea this was a thing. I love onesies; they’re easy, fast and allow instant access to a nappy. Childzilla likes onesies as I don’t spend an age annoying her by faffing about at her clothes. Some days we don’t even make it to a onesie and she rolls around for the day in her nappy and a vest like a teeny incontinent Onslow Bucket. Childzilla will be in onesies and easy outfits until she’s old enough to tell me she dislikes them or until they stop making them in her size. And, as they make awesome adult onesies, that could be when she’s 90 and back in nappies again.

My dog is my baby monitor.

I could turn the real one on while she sleeps and I am out of the room. But there’s no point as the dog always notices the moment she wakes up and goes in to wag his tail ingratiatingly at her. Perhaps he is trying to entice her to play ball. Perhaps he is trying to make up for my terrible parenting. Either way, my first warning of the stirrings of Childzilla is always a vanishing dog.

Does this look like the face of a good mother?

I send my child to daycare…

I am completely unconvinced by parenting’s unofficial first rule, that Mother Is Always The Best Caregiver. The way I see it is – Childzilla could spend time with her sleep-depped and inept mother, me. I have no younger siblings or nearby cousins, little to no interest in or experience with other babies.

Or she could occasionally spend the day in daycare where the staff are trained professionals with years of experience who have also had some sleep in the last 72 hours.  I leave my child in occasional daycare with a light heart safe in the knowledge she’s surrounded by care, attention and far more toys than she has at home.

…and enjoy myself while she’s there.

The second rule seems to be that it’s only okay for mothers to spend time from their baby if they’re are not enjoying it. If your child is in daycare it’s because you must be weeping through your working day or undergoing invasive and uncomfortable medical tests or, preferably, both. No peace. No sleep. No breaks. If you are not actively suffering right, you are doing parenting wrong.

You know what I do when she’s in daycare? Whatever needs doing.  Some days that’s 2 hours frantic housework and a doctor’s appointment, and some days that’s a grocery shop followed by walking the dog and a lovely unrushed lunch.

Still less scary than the lyrics of Hush A Bye Baby.

I am ruining her musical taste with a steady diet of terrible and profane 90’s pop…

Childzilla loves to dance and I love to sing, so this should be an easy spot to pick up “Good Mother” points, right? Not when your sleep-depped brain can only remember songs heard while out drunk and clubbing in the 90’s. This week has been particularly bad – we’ve had gems such as I Like to Move It Move It. the Guinness dancing man advert sung entirely using the word “tequila” and endless repetitions of Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini (the cover with Timmy Mallett).

…because I can not for the life of me remember the lyrics to any  appropriate stuff.

I can’t remember more than a few bars of nursery rhymes and tend to ad lib new verses as I go along. But the sleep dep appears to have turned off my inner censor. Yesterday I caught myself singing The Outhere Brothers, Avenue Q, and the lyrics “and if that diamond ring turns brass, Mama’s gonna buy you a piece of ass”. Oh dear.

I cheer myself with the thought that that’s still better than Hush A Bye Baby where you tell your child that they have nothing to fear from sleep other than plummeting to their death. Who the hell puts their child’s cot in a treetop anyway? It may not have been a stellar week here but at least I haven’t put Childzilla to sleep with the squirrels. Perhaps I’m not the worst mother out there after all.

Say “WAAAAHAAAAARGH” for the camera

Life just threw us a curve ball and we are unexpectedly off on an international flight. Sudden travel can be a bit hectic to pull off but by far the most stressful aspect of planning this impromptu trip has been securing an acceptable photograph for Childzilla’s bloody Australian passport.

Nope, none of these are suitable.

Strike a pose. Just not that one. Or that one. Or that.

The general guidelines for an acceptable picture (and Department of Immigration and Citizenship say “guidelines” in the title but you’ll notice that they are actually “requirements” which are totally different fucking things) are many and about as reasonable as Kuwait’s stance on gay marriage. Whoever came up with them has either a) never met a baby or b) met one and really fucking hated them. And their parents.

You must have the infant awake, eyes open but mouth closed. They need to looking at the camera dead-on without any shadow – say, from a flash – in the picture. This is a pretty tall ask for something that can’t hold its own head up straight.

You could just hold their head, but the parent’s hand or body must not visible in the background. Boobs are, presumably, right fucking out and not in a fun way. You are repeatedly told you can’t use photoshop on your boobs or on any issues at all so you can’t just edit them out.

Oh, and they recommend a “neutral expression”, presumably because all that poking and straightening and camera-flashing will relax and interest your baby as opposed, say, to turning them into the Baby of the Baskervilles complete with slavering and howling. Asking for a picture of a newborn with their eyes open and a neutral expression is the equivalent of asking for a shot of a politician telling the truth or Miley Cyrus being demure. It’s technically possible but bloody unlikely to happen. If your newborn is awake, they are screaming or eating. Them’s the rules.

“Seriously, why are you pointing that thing at me?”

So assuming you manage the impossible and get the child awake, while not crying or stuffing a boob in its mouth, you then face the challenge of persuading them to look at the camera lens. You can’t just move the lens to where their eyes are looking as that will mean they are not looking at the camera dead-on and you can’t just keep taking pictures because – as we discovered – the flash starts to really freak them out after a few minutes.

By about 5 minutes in, the child was crying. By 10, I was crying and wondering if we could get access to some sort of clamp. By 15, both the child and I had run out of tears and decided we needed a stiff drink. And that was just the first attempt.

All in all, it took three people helping (4 if you could the child), over 2 days and approximately 200 rejected shots to get 2 pictures that might pass the criteria if they were feeling generous. We took them to a printer, who said one of them might be okay if they photoshopped shadows in the background out a little.

Ahem. Which of course we didn’t do as the criteria told us not to. Ahem. Honest. Yes.

Not only is this pug cuter than a baby, but it’s also posing correctly for the shot.

And the really annoying thing about it? It’s not like the picture will actually be useful. Babies change really fast. It’s kind of the whole point of being a baby. So that hard-won photograph will look a little off by the time we get the passport back from printing, decidedly dated by the time we start the trip and nothing bloody like Childzilla a year from now. Really, we could pop a picture of Winston Churchill on, or a pug in a baby hat, and no one would be any the wiser.

I could just photoshop in some boobs for realism.

If you came here looking for actual useful advice on how to take an infant passport photo as opposed to your yearly recommended allowance of swearing, my apologies and try this Infant Passport tutorial instead. It’s for the States but was generally very useful for us too. We found the supporting her head with towels trick especially useful.

5 things I learned from my 7-week-old (mainly bodily-fluid-related)

1. Every day is No-Pants-Day.

“Yes, Mr Snake, we shall make sure there are no pants again. No pants again EVER.”

Clothes companies would have you believe your newborn cares about fashion. They sell the “dressing your child” experience as a chance to coo and giggle together while you robe them in pristine coordinating outfits, complete with shoes, hat and matching accessories.

Newborns do not care about fashion. In fact, they pretty much loathe all clothing regardless of style content. The only thing that newborns hate more than being naked and cold is having clothes put on them. Dressing your child is not so much a bonding experience as practise for wrestling a pissed-off weasel into a wetsuit, if that weasel were on meth and the wetsuit two sizes too small.

And it doesn’t matter what you choose to clothe the child in anyway, as chances are you will be changing it in about 5 minutes when it gets covered in pee, poo, spew or all three.

2. Newborn equipment includes Bowels of Holding.

The Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game has an item called a “bag of holding” which is a small bag capable of containing objects far larger and heavier than its own size.

This is clearly based on the mechanics of babies’ bowels. These distort the laws of time and space to hold an unlimited amount of poo and wee no matter how often you feed the child or change their nappy. And uttering the phrase, “but I just changed it” doubles the chance of a freshly filthy nappy no matter how much the child has eaten that day.

3. Never point a loaded anus at yourself.

This. 200 times a day, this.

This. 200 times a day, this.

Even if you think the child is done pooing, they have often saved you some. They do this so they can do a full-on I-am-fucked-off skunk-spray of poo at you when you have the temerity to try to clean them up.

If you get lucky, they will wait until after you have opened the nappy and cleaned them, and then start to pee. Then – as you bend over, frantic, attempting to stop the new nappy and their outfit from getting drenched – they will fart vigorously, spraying you with both pee and poo.

If you get really lucky this happens at 3am and necessitates an outfit change for you, the child and your partner who was so surprised by the sudden duet of poo-covered wailing that they spilled their bedside glass of water all over themselves. I learned this one the hard way.

4. Assume *ALL* anuses are loaded.

I also learned this one the hard way.

5. You will not get the time to finish anything you started.

I hear wailing. Better run, lest she set the bowels on me.

And here’s one we made earlier.

I’ve been bad at updating again recently but this time I have a really really good excuse.

While the plan was to update last week with gems such as my thrilling adventures with gestational diabetes (spoiler: not actually thrilling) and the joys of having your uterus cramp out your bladder and diaphragm (spoiler: no joy included), it all came to crashing halt on Thursday a week ago when, at weeks 38 and 0 days, my waters broke at 6am and I found myself rushing for the hospital a little earlier than planned.

Tea cup human!

Due to some complications and previous medical issues it had been suggested I consider a caesarean section. As it happened, Thursday  was the same day I was due for an ultrasound and a chat with the obstetrician. Once we made it in there and made the call for a c-section, it all went very fast. My waters broke at 6am, I hit the hospital about 7.15, was in surgery by 8.30, and by 9.34 we had a 3.5kg baby girl on our hands (well, on my boobs) and it was all over bar the stitching up. She came out yelling and balling her fists and has been veering between sleep, boggling and completely losing her shit, raptor-style, and flailing teeny clawed feet and hands at us.

I know c-sections get a bad rep, but I really feel mine was as good as it could have been. My stitches are fecking teeny and, 10 days on, I am having to remind myself that I was in surgery recently and that lifting weights is a bad plan. We spent 2 days at the RPA hospital in Camperdown (I discharged myself early as I a) felt pretty good and b) was climbing the walls with boredom) and they were absolutely great to us as well as being gloriously free with the hardcore painkillers – it’s impressive how stoned I look in the photos. Reminds me of my college years to be honest.

Image from http://www.flickr.com/photos/orinrobertjohn/4097876177/in/photostream/

Breast-feeding not so much fun, ackshually.

Currently we’re getting by on advice from the hospital and friends, and on remarkably little sleep. Despite the fact that every night is now all night party night, we think she is adorable. She’s already showing signs of both her parents’ personalities; she loves her food, hates being told what to do with her limbs, and managed to perform a push-up and flip when placed on her tummy at three days much to the horror of the midwife who then said she was very “vigorous”.

In between all-night zombie shuffles, we’ve mainly been navigating  inventing lots of different things to sing to her when she is grizzling. These are mainly songs based on Gangnam Style and whether she is a actually a baby raptor (“If you’re unhappy and you know it, shake your claws, ARGH ARGH” gets some airtime).

Well, at least *someone* is sleeping.

Well, at least *someone* is sleeping.

We’ve got lucky with the weather here – we’ve had 10 days of glorious sunshine which is good with the amount of additional washing we have had to do. You would not believe how many outfits and bedsheets a 3.5kg baby can go through in a day when both parents are still learning how to put on nappies effectively. Unsure if The Child is a raptor or aspiring Kardashian, frankly.

…is it wrong that I’d prefer a raptor?

4 types of WTF – buying for a new baby (the sweary-weary edition)

With under 4 weeks until my due date, we have spent the last few weekends running around the shops trying to buy everything we need when – and this is the fun bit – we have no idea what we need.

Many of the shops and baby websites supply check-lists of essential items for newborns. This would be helpful if they didn’t appear to be written by the sort of people who recommend you take 12 changes of outfit, 3 weeks’ worth of food and a full thermal sleeping system on an overnight camping trip in summer. I can see that a decent supply of nappies and wet-wipes, for example, are a pretty essential buy. I am just less than convinced that we will also need a “Baby-On-Board” car-sticker, a white-noise generator and a wipe-warmer.

We’ve managed through trial, error and copious levels of swearing at idiocy to cull the lists and come up with a few basic rules along the way. Whether you are buying for yourself or someone else, here’s a few tips on sorting the necessary wheat from the organic-biodegradeable-nonallergenic-biodynamic-chaff for when you are buying for a new baby.

1. It’s HOW fucking much?

If you thought a new home was a big purchase, you have not seen the list of stuff you are expected to have for a baby. If you go for new options and want to buy the items that get the best reviews, expect it to be expensive. Like, bed-wettingly so. Prams – I’m sorry, “baby travel-systems” – routinely come in at over a grand, and that wet bed may come with nearly a two thousand dollar price tag before you have  even put a new mattress and sheets on it. You can easily lay out $200 on a swing to soothe your child but many babies won’t have a bar of them and you could end up with another expensive pile of junk in a room already filled with crud you barely use.

The solution? Embrace any offers of second-hand items you get and use them to evaluate what you actually want and need. Even if you do end up deciding you want something with different features you won’t have splashed a few week’s wages on something you – or the child – turn out to hate.

2. What the fuck is that?

Prepare to learn a new language. Nothing on baby-related lists gets a simple and honest description and you will end up googling the fuck out of everything to work out what the hell they were going on about.

It took me a few searches to work out that a burp cloth is just a small piece of cloth that could, more accurately, be referred to as a spew rag as you use it for mopping up vomit. Or that a cellular blanket is not to keep baby’s first phone warm but a simple breathable woven blankets for their crib and for swaddling on colder days.

Apparently I also need a receiving blanket (does it issue receipts?) and some bunny rugs.  I still don’t know what a bunny rug is, and why a cellular blanket can’t do whatever it is it does, but according to several lists I need three of them. Is it an image thing? Am I expected to go out and kill rabbits so my child can lounge naked, 70’s porn star style, on their skins in front of the fire? I have no fucking clue.

3. Are you sure that’s a good fucking idea?

It can be tempting to just go mad and chuck stuff in the basket when you have a list a mile long, but it pays to have a think before you grab that item and tick it off the list. Baby shops will cheerfully sell you stuff without informing you that the products have massive drawbacks or are downright dangerous.

Some examples? Walk into any baby shop and you’ll find cute cot bumpers, baby pillows and fluffy bassinet blankets galore. What they don’t mention is most hospitals and most medical research recommend avoiding all these in early infancy due to the SIDS risk of the baby getting stuck under them.

Less deadly but with definite potential to be unpleasant is your choice of thermometer. Before purchasing, check how you are expected to operate it. You can’t use an oral thermometer on a very young child, and underarm readings take an age in addition to being unreliable, so you may be stuck with the remaining option – rectal.  And – here’s a fun fact I discovered – rectal insertion of thermometers can apparently have the fun side effect of instantly causing epic-in-your-face-insta-poos which sounds like NO FUN AT ALL.

4. Do babies have fucking hooves?

 ...do babies have hooves?

These are for hooves, right?

A final note on buying when you have no idea what half the crap you are getting is or why you need it.

If, like us, you have been lucky enough to get lots of pre-used items from helpful friends desperate to reclaim some space in their home, have a good look through them before you do any shopping. Case in point; we were recently looking through the second-hand newborn clothes we have been gifted and found loads of what looked like oversized floppy socks. We looked at them, bemused.

“What is this shit?”

“Socks? They’re not socks?”

“They don’t look like socks. They’re kind of… big. Lots of extra space. For really big feet. Club feet? Or hooves? Do babies have hooves?*”

“…I really fucking hope not.”

 

They don’t. We worked it out eventually. They were mittens.

Times flies when strangers are probing you with wands

If anyone is wondering where I have been for the last couple of weeks, the answer is “being poked relentlessly by strangers dressed in scrubs”.

Not that there was any emergency (or I was up to anything kinky), it’s all just standard mum-to-be care complicated by a child as contrary as its mother. At around the 20th week in Australia they do a fetal anomaly ultrasound scan examining the fetus in detail, checking the heart and internal organs and measuring all the various bones including the spine. Normally this should take 30 minutes or so, unless your child is uncooperative and in wrong position the whole time.

Transvaginal ultrasounds are pretty much like this.

I’ve spent about 10 hours over the last few weeks at the doctor’s or in the hospital and the child’s nickname is now officially “Little Fecker” so you can draw your own conclusions as to their cooperation levels. Little Fecker has clearly inherited both my hatred of posing for photos and the bloody-minded sense of humour from both sides of the family.

To get most of the pictures they need the child needs to be lying flat and relaxed face-up or down, but Little Fecker apparently felt in a V with hands by feet was the correct way to pose. And, lacking a bribe of a lollipop if they behave, all I could do was bump my uterus around a bit in the hope of changing their position.

So began the 2-day St. Vitus’ Dance Disco Epic that was last week. I jiggled and joggled, walked, danced and pranced, all the in hope of maneuvering the child. No change. I sprinted up and down stairs. No change. The technician jiggled my belly so violently my glasses fell off. No change. I danced to Baby’s Got Back in the hospital bathroom completed with Beyonce-style butt-jiggling. The child moved to an even less suitable angle and started kicking me in the cervix.

After 3 hours, they tried the joy that is a transvaginal ultrasound which would have worked if Little Fecker hadn’t moved to sit on it, giving a wonderful shot of their arse. After 4 hours, they sent me home to come back in the next day. After 6, they called in the most expert staff member they had, who basically turned me upside down on a hospital bed, and punched my belly and other bits with the various wands until the Little Fecker finally let us get the angle we needed.

It took nine attempts at scanning from various angles, spread over 7 hours in hospital, to finally get the pictures that fdoctor needed. And the result, finally given to me after another 2 hours waiting in a doctor’s surgery where I used the wait to come up with ever more pessimistic and far-fetched reasons (“The child is deformed. The child is a quadruped. Oh fuck, it’s actually triplets.”) for the hospital insisting on the thoroughness of the scans?

The child is in great shape. The little fecker.

Sharing the joyous pain

Giving birth is no longer optional. Much like Charlie Sheen’s ego, we have gone past the point of no return. This baby is going to have come out somehow. And come out somehow from somewhere about as designed to emit it as an economy plane seat is to take a Samoan rugby player.

Push, bitches.

Push, bitches.

Fuck.

The pregnancy has just hit the 20 week mark which makes it both unlikely it will end in miscarriage (which from here on in is called a stillbirth) or that NSW law would allow an abortion even if we wanted one. So it’s full steam ahead on working out the least horrendous method of getting through labour.

Himself has been party to the work-out process but has been informed that I will be doing whatever I decide is best in this case. This is, to paraphrase Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, one joyous sharing experience I can have by myself.

(I’m not insisting I get to make all the decisions. Where the load can be shared, be that childcare, education, or just what type car seat to buy, we’ll be negotiating. But when it comes to 24 hours of trauma where his contribution will be limited to apologising and trying to keep his testicles out of my hands’ reach, I’m making all the calls.)

This is not “our” glorious birth experience. When it comes to the physical aspects of pregnancy, we are not sharing anything, joyous or not. I had morning sickness and fatigue, he didn’t. I get to attend endless medical appointments, he gets the edited version after. I push, puke and possibly rupture: he provides snacks and something to shout at. He has been informed that using the phrase, “we’re pregnant” will result in either beatings or me insisting he share the joy of birth by having kidney stones.

My vaginal rupture, my rules, bitches.

I have investigated my labour options. They are:

  1. A low intervention, low-drug Birthing Centre at the RPAH (Royal Prince Alfred Hospital). They allow for free movement and minimal monitoring in a safe environment  but you have to run most of the show and – unlike a good roadie – they won’t provide strong drugs, just gas (which often has no effect) and pethedrine (which often has no effect other than making you loopy and causing projectile vomiting because god forbid you have an orifice that isn’t completely traumatised by this whole thing).
  2. Epidural at the RPAH labour ward. An epidural involves injecting an anaesthetic between the vertebrae, numbing the body from the injection point down. The advantage (no to reasonably little pain) is for me completely outweighed by the disadvantages – being bed bound on my back (as my legs won’t work), hooked up to a drip, catheter and various machines for several hours with people shouting what to do at me while I can’t even feel enough to be sure I am getting it right.
  3. Cesarean: When intensive abdominal surgery is seen as the soft option, you know you are in for a fun ride.

The obvious option, given I have no urge to feel more pain than needed, is the epidural. But for a whole host of boring reasons, it’s out. Short version is I get panic attacks, often brought on by the claustrophia of being trapped and unable to move, and as I am semi-deaf listening to people takes a lot of effort for me. Being trapped in a bed for hours with strangers shouting important instructions at me for ages is about the best way I can imagine to completely send myself off the rails.

So, for the moment, I’ve  popped myself on the list for the Birthing Centre. Please note, despite the fact that I have signed up for “natural birth”, I’m not advocating it for everyone or even that enthused about it myself. If it were possible, I would be in favour of the most unnatural birth possible – preferably the removal of the foetus from my uterus reasonably early in the process and then a transferal to a glass womb on the wall where I could watch it grow and sprinkle it with fish food daily. Or having Captain Picard beam the baby out and into a waiting crib while the cast of Next Gen cleaned my home for me.

People who view birth as a joyous sharing experience that allows you to experience the full strength of womanhood through an all-out pain marathon can feck right off frankly. I have done (accidental) pain. I have smashed every bone in my foot while out clubbing, fallen 10 feet onto my back and been kicked in the stomach by a horse. And you know what? That shit HURTS and I have NO interest in doing it again. Only an idiot or a masochist actively goes in search of experiences that will allow them to test the boundaries of pain.

Believe me, if I could share the pain of this with them, they’d all be on floor screaming and I’d be on the floor screaming along with them and cackling occasionally.

My dark and fevered imagination has been trying coming up with ways to share the experience generally. Squeezing your partner’s hand off is merely the start of what it suggested.  I could video the birth and force people, Clockwork Orange style, to sit through it. Or I could live tweet the birth. I wouldn’t even need to type – my phone has pretty accurate voice command and recognition. I could just gasp out, “Send tweet – AaaaaAAAAAGH! FUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK AAAAAAAAAAAAGHHHHHHH COCKBADGERING MOTHERFUCKER!” for 24 hours.

I could. Don’t think I won’t.

After all, it’s meant to be a joyous sharing experience. I wouldn’t want to hog all the fun.

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