The Queen is said to be delighted. Miliband said the news was ‘fantastic’, Prince William was 'thrilled'. Yet all I felt when I heard the Duchess of Cambridge’s baby news was a snowballing sense of horror.
The announcement has reignited my bi-monthly brooding on a prospect that seems increasingly terrifying: giving birth. One day I’d like to have a child of my own, and ideally I’d like to carry that baby.
But the thought of getting the damn thing out of my body leaves me cold. The mums I’ve asked bat away my concerns with: “Oh it’s all worth it when you hold your baby” or “You’re too young to worry about that now.”
But I have very specific worries about the birthing process that need addressing before I embark on raising my family of young Morselets.
1) Defecation. I discovered about two years ago that one delightful side effect of giving birth is that you might accidentally poo yourself, a detail that has haunted my nightmares ever since. I asked my mum about this and she said, nonchalant as anything “oh yes, I mean, you’re pushing and it’s hard to tell what is what.” Another woman I asked said “oh of course you [poo yourself] someone just wipes it up.” Even worse, a father I mentioned this to fixed me with an ominous glare and breathed “believe me this is the least of your worries.” From this I can but infer that giving birth is so bad it is totally acceptable to poo in front of everyone and so painful you don’t care.
2) Tearing. I mime this worry to friends by simulating a massive explosion between my legs. Vaginas don’t even like stretching a little bit. That’s why doctors have to pull you apart a bit with a speculum when they give you a smear. It sounds like some kind of Medieval torture to potentially have a human baby stuck in there for 72 hours. I’ve heard you have to be stitched up afterwards. I can’t bear to Google it.
3) I have to give birth *twice*. Apparently after you force the sproglet out your contractions continue and you have to push out the placenta, a fleshy piece of wobbly tissue. Some women eat it. It’s meant to be nutritious. I suppose once you’ve gone through all that faff you at least want to get something out of it
4) The bump stays even after giving birth. I don’t understand how it can all be ‘fluid’ and where does it go afterwards? Will I just be padded forever?
5) The baby is ugly. I know it will be ugly. I can only hope the ‘hormones’ make me think it is beautiful. But really it will look like a purple, discharge-caked worm. I’m slightly concerned it may be too fully developed as well - what if it had a mouth full of teeth, or long flowing hair, or long fingernails, or something?
6) The baby won’t come. I push and push and I get on all fours (having accepted that being butt naked and humiliated is a natural part of childbirth). Yet despite my screams, posturing and at least one person at the business end fainting from the sight of my underworld on display, the baby won’t come. And then they have to saw me open and pull it out of my tummy. Just typing that sentence made my ovaries shudder.
7) Alcohol. I can’t drink my way through this. Or smoke. It’s super stressful and all down to me but I can’t indulge in my favourite vices to help me through this life changing event.
8) Milk. I understand that if I’m ‘lucky’ I will produce breast milk. I have no idea how exactly my nipples will suddenly function like teats, let alone how I will feel suddenly hauling round great heavy milky udders. What will the milk be like? Creamy like a cow's? Or watery like soya milk? My major worry here is that it might smell sour (I once spilt a milkshake in my car and I couldn’t wash it out of the cracks properly and it really did stink for months.)
9) Things don’t get better. I’ve torn myself, pooed myself and all in front of partner. My breasts are now a milk machine. All my favourite parts have been decimated by the aggressive Morselet and I can never have sex again. Maybe it’s because he or she cannot get over seeing me like that. Maybe because it just hurts I’ve seen women’s faces when sex is mentioned, months, even years later. Even the prospect of sex raises a rictus grimace. And yet lots of people post-baby say not having sex is not a big deal, which makes me think something pretty big and not so nice has happened to their lives. Will I cope? Is parenthood a big conspiracy to ruin my life?
Perhaps I'm being ridiculous. Maybe one day I’ll be brave enough to find out the answers for myself. In the meantime, thank you, mum, for pushing me out. I wish all mums-to-be the best of luck. You’re braver than I am.
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