Monday, 13 January 2014

Heir, Apparently.

The following post was previously published here on 4th of July, 2006.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

For those about to pop, we salute you....

The following account is true, and has in no way been embellished by the author (well okay, maybe a little – but this is what I think I saw that day)

A lifetime ago, Lady Mountjoy and I were visiting the local hospital to book her in for the delivery of our first child. With all of the technicalities out of the way, and some niceties passed, the admitting nurse smiled at us, and asked if we had any questions. Lady M, a somewhat shy girl, offered: “You hear so many stories, and see so many things… how much does it really hurt?” The gentle smile washed away from the midwife, and she turned to face Lady Mountjoy directly: “Just remember, it is only one day in your life. Your child will bring you a lifetime of happiness…” At that point, I crossed my legs and thought, “Ouch, it must be bad”.

Fast forward five months: Lady M’s water has broken, she has been in labour for 7 hours. The epidural (which gets plunged into your spine with a resounding “click”) has long worn off. “Oh, it’ll be here soon” says the nurse. Hour ten arrives, and Mountjoy Junior is showing no signs of wanting to leave his warm, wet home. Out comes the king vac. Now this wasn’t talked about in the pre-game: a rubber cup, about 10cm diameter, that is placed on the child head, while the hose that is attached is put on a vacuum. The suction supposedly holds the cup in place, allowing the doctor to pull the baby out by the head during a contraction. Well that’s the theory. The reality is that after eight attempts, the GP gives up and calls for a specialist.

So at hour 12, “The Specialist” arrives. Think milkman. Knee high white rubber boots, white lab coat. Like an extra from the Ponds Institute. He takes one look down over the plate at home base, and calls for the forceps. In the mean time, an episiotomy is performed. “Geesh, that sounds bad…” Well from what I saw, it’s using a knife where no man should take a knife, to allow a bowling ball to pass through a hole the size of your coffee mug rim. "They slice you so it looks like the top of a Wet Ones dispenser" was one of my wife's friends useful prenatal descriptions. That’s only after he takes a very long needle and injects local anaesthetic in places only your mother has washed you. A half dozen times.

The forceps are just another in a long line of horrors. “Forceps” – the things you used in high school science, right? Uh-uh. These suckers come in a sterilised bag, almost a metre long. Now they are a three-piece bit of gear, and in case you hadn’t thought it through, let me plant this seed in your head: for forceps to pull a baby out, they have to be assembled around the baby’s head i.e. inside the uterus. So you get to watch one half of this workshop tool inserted a testicle raising length inside your wife, the hinge bolt attached, then the other piece similarly positioned.

This lead to the true spectacle of the day – which had started at 11pm the pervious night, but was now in the early minutes of the following afternoon: The Specialist took a forcep handle in each hand, lifted his knee, bracing his foot on the frame of the bed and gave Mountjoy Junior’s head an almighty tug. This is the most diabolical thing I had ever seen. I would have sworn the child’s head would be pulled clean off. It was utterly grotesque.

But it worked. And my eldest son arrived safe and happy into the world. Childbirth is an incredible experience – and not just for the mother. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. I will never know my wife’s pain, but I did feel it. And yet, the mid-wife was right: it was just one day.

Lady Mountjoy is enceinte, due at the end of November.

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