Mum of two, nearly three, Becky Dickinson, gears up for birth, and finds herself in a rather sticky situation.
Why did I bother rushing to get to the midwife on time? 40 minutes after my appointment should have started, I’m still waiting. D has eaten her way through three and a half boxes of raisins, spilt juice on the floor, trashed the magazine table and shouted ‘our turn!’ every time the beep goes.
Just as I’m weighing up whether I have time to go for a wee, the beep sounds again, and my name finally flashes up. Better cross my legs then.
I knock on the door and a man opens. A man. I don’t know why I’m surprised; I know male midwives exist, and of course I’m all in favour of equal opportunities. It’s just in three pregnancies, I’ve never encountered one. I adopt my best ‘I’m not phased’ face, and hand over my bottle of wee. Why does that still make me squirm?
As the midwife flicks through my notes, I can’t help noticing his hands. Big, brawny, masculine. All I can think is, ‘oh God, I hope I’m not sitting, or rather lying, here two weeks after my due date, needing a sweep.’ My cervix trembles at the thought of being mauled by a set of Cumberland sausages.
‘You haven’t done a birth plan,’ the midwife states, staring at the blank page in my notes and instantly reducing me to a teenager who hasn’t done her homework.
‘Er, no,’ I mutter. Truth is, despite this being my third pregnancy, I haven’t actually got a birth plan. On a good day, I think, ‘yes I can do this with a whiff of gas and air and some Dolly Mixtures.’ On a bad day, I feel like pleading for an elective Caesarean, or at least writing GIVE ME THE DRUGS in thick black marker pen across my notes.
Past experience tells me I’ll need more than a few candles and a hypnobirthing CD to push something the size of a Savoy cabbage through the ring of fire.
‘Is there anything you particularly want?’ the midwife asks.
I resist the urge to say ‘intravenous G and T,’ and instead say, ‘yes, I want to keep my placenta.’
Now it’s the midwife’s turn to pretend not to look surprised. Seems placenta-consumption is even more of a rarity than male midwives, at least in safe suburbia. No post-delivery tea and toast for me, I’ll be downing a raw placenta smoothie, while my squealing newborn tries to work out what to do with a nipple. But I’ve done my research, and anything which claims to ease the hell that is post natal recovery, is worth a shot.
‘Well, you’d better clear it with the labour ward manager first,’ the midwife says. I make a mental note to add it to my ever-increasing to-do list.
The appointment ends. I apologise for D dropping raisins on the floor, make a half-hearted attempt to pick them up, before remembering I can’t actually bend down that far, then waddle out.
As my due date edges inexorably closer I head to the shops to pick up those oh-so-glamorous items – breast pads, maternity pads, arnica for the bruising and other collateral damage. I stop short of paper knickers – period pants will do. I also grab a box of Veet wax strips. Wax, you ask?
I’ve always been more of a DIY girl than a salon-beauty. Only, since pregnancy got in the way, I’ve been going au naturel. I know I shouldn’t care, but giving birth is unsightly enough, without looking like a spaniel. But if I don’t want to expose my unkempt bits to a manicured 20 year old, the only option is to do it myself. Plus with the price of nappies, I can’t really afford to pay someone else for the privilege.
Later that evening, with the kids safely in bed and Unhusband safely in front of Dragon’s Den, I embark on giving my ladygarden a bit of a pruning.
I peel the wax away from the backing strip, then press it along where I think my bikini line should be. I say think, because I can’t actually see it over my mountainous bump.
I brace myself and pull. Except I make the one mistake anyone who’s ever tried giving themselves a self-inflicted Brazillian, will know not to make. In an effort not to bring on contractions, I don’t whip fast enough. Instead of coming clean away, the strip gets ensnared in a bearded web, setting every follicle on fire in the process. Pain shoots through me like scalding water and I let out a scream worthy of One Born Every Minute.
The door flies open and Unhusband bursts in, to find me scarlet-faced, pants round my ankles, bent as double as my spherical frame will allow, clutching my groin.
A look of helpless panic washes across his face. ‘What do you want me to do?’ he gasps.
‘Sorry?’ I reply. Then burst out laughing, as I realise he actually thinks I’m about to give birth.
‘I’m waxing my bikini line, you idiot!’ I snort.
Unhusband mutters something unrepeatable, followed by the Italian equivalent of silly cow. I jokingly apologise for scaring him, before realising I still have something resembling a dishcloth superglued to my bits.
There’s nothing for it, I’m going to have to get Unhusband to finish the job off. With strict instructions to pull sharply away from the direction of hair growth, and the threat of retaliation if he gets it wrong, I place my dignity in his hands. I count to three, then tense every muscle I still possess. It feels like my skin is being ripped from my flesh.
I let out another labour-evocative yell, then Unhusband holds up the object of torture in triumph. It now resembles a strip of shag-pile carpet but at least it’s no longer attached to my body. There’s no way he’s having a go at the other side though. I’ll just have to pretend it’s a designer vagina, and hope that when the moment arrives, the midwife will be too focussed on what’s coming out of it to notice.
D-Day is dawning. I may be a little asymmetrical, but the hospital bag is packed, the TENS machine is ordered. I’m ready for my placenta smoothie. All I can do now is pray I don’t need that sweep.