I’ve returned to reading about labour again. Now that I’m a little desensitised to the detail, I can appreciate what an amazing physiological feat childbirth is. It’s not just the sheer physical and mental exertion required for an act that barely compares to any other natural act the body performs; the synchronisation of all the different hormones, bodily chemicals, the changing muscles, organs, joints, all co-ordinating delicately with incredible precision to squeeze a little being through the various stages of labour is nothing short of astonishing. The muscles involved are powerful enough to spit the little one out across room, but obviously nature takes things at a more respectful pace. If the whole process was man-made, you’d need a team of air-traffic controllers to coordinate it all. The baby’s passage is a bit like an Indiana Jones film, one of those scenes where Indy is trapped somewhere deep and dark and has to escape through winding tunnels with tests and booby traps on the way, finally leaping out through an opening into the sunlight, all dirty and wet, gushing water following his escape. The baby won’t come out with a hat, though. “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Womb”: in a birthing centre near you.
Complex as it sounds, it all just happens. The baby knows exactly what to do, negotiating the twists and turns through a choreography of various positions, as though he’s done it all before. I’ve been reading about the stages of birth, the phases within stages, the steps within phases. The baby instinctively knows it all without the aid of any memory or literature, yet – despite my reading – I still really don’t know what is going to happen. I might as well try to sail a boat from London to Sydney, in the dark, without a map. I know roughly where Sydney is, but the journey in between would be largely at the whim of nature with me just trying to stay afloat and keeping the boat pointing in roughly the right direction. I’ll just do what the midwife tells me. And make tea.
Dancing in the street
Jas has started to struggle a bit with walking. Or should I say cute waddling. The train station is normally a brisk three minute stroll from our house, but now it is a journey worthy of a cut lunch and a thermos of tea. During our weekend walk to the pool, Jas had to stop many times to bend over and stretch her back to ease the discomfort. On our return journey, at one point she stopped, doubled over and then did a bit of a waggle dance to help loosen her back. As she did this, out the corner of my eye I saw a young chap walking directly behind who we hadn’t noticed; he paused slightly at the sudden strange activity directly in front of him, then pretended he hadn’t seen a laden lady shaking her rear, performing something like an ostrich mating dance in the middle of the street, and walked on.
It was time for the most difficult part of pregnancy: choosing a pram. We went to Kiddicare, a monster baby store up north. How wild our weekends have become! It had several acres of baby stuff, a daunting array of brand-marketed products. It was interesting to see that most expectant mum’s there had their other halves there as well. This was not lost on the designers of baby gear: these days much of it appeals to men. The car seats, for example: the names of two of the popular brands sounded a bit like a laxative; then there was Recaro, makers of fine sports car seats. Now, would fathers like their offspring plonked in a bright pink or green seat with a name reminiscent of medicine, or a black one made by a company renowned for speed? We got the Recaro.
It was the same with the prams. There was a boggling array of styles, but for me, I wasn’t going to spend a considerable wad of our cash to be seen pushing a transport device that looked like a zimmer frame, a pink chariot or an insect. I wanted one with sports wheels! Low profile! Racing stripes! We found one with all this, and one to which we could attach our Recaro car seat to!! Done deal.