I don't want to write too much about this lest I lose my reputation for reserved cynicism, but participating in the birth of your child is both bizarre and wonderful. Labour is hour upon hour of hell, and I doubt I will ever see a gutsier performance than Lady Sterne's over the thirty-six hours (I'll say that again: thirty-six hours!) preceding Charlotte's birth. Not only did she go without drugs, but she also refrained from swearing - I would have cursed a blue streak, whatever that means. She did lose her sense of humour, though. Frankly, so did I.
Then the big moment arrives, and instead of screwing up her face in agony, she is smiling, and you are smiling, and there's this squirming, soggy purply-pink thing in your arms, and after a minute or two of disbelief (and maybe a few tears - but I'm still tough, come on, who wants to fight!), you realise this is your baby. All the pain and anxiety is gone, and your life has changed forever.
Now that Charlotte has been born, I have a number of wishes:
- I wish that people would stop telling me their birth stories. Over the past nine months, I have heard hundreds tales of unimaginable horror, often from complete strangers. I have put up with it out of politeness, but now I am over it. Keep your stitches and your stirrups and your meddling student midwives to yourselves, thanks.
- I wish that the word "mucas" never be used in my hearing, except in the context of teasing somebody named Lucas.
- I wish for an end to this "you just wait until" business. As in, "You just wait until you're up at three in the morning, changing nappies and feeding and the baby is vomiting on the cat and", etc., etc. There's nothing more annoying to new parents than these smug cautions, especially since I already have a seven-year-old and know perfectly well how difficult parenthood can be! Some people have a baby and they think they know it all. They are obviously yet to learn the fundamental lesson of parenthood, which is: you know nothing!