Monday 11 November 2019

Yvonne Hogan: From fear to maternity

Yvonne Hogan Photo: Marc O'Sullivan
Yvonne Hogan Photo: Marc O'Sullivan

Yvonne Hogan

If one more person asks me if I am ready for the baby, I will scream. I suppose it is a fair question, given that my due date is less than a week away, but I'm not ready. I'm not ready in any way, shape or form.

My house is full of builders and dust and dirt, I still can't drive on my own, and I have loads of stuff I know I have to do and buy but I just couldn't be arsed.

I am tired, so, so tired, and all I want to do is sleep day and night, which is difficult when you have a house full of builders.

"Why don't you just go for a nap while they are working," my husband asked me last week, when I was complaining for the nth time about how tired I was.

"I am too embarrassed," I answered. "What if they hear me?"

"Sure they aren't going to say anything," he replied. "And even if they do, sure what do you care?"

Oh I care. I care very much. I haven't felt this self-conscious about myself since I was 11 years old and I was the only girl in the class with boobs. Big boobs they were, too, for their day. My first bra was a 32B.

It's my snoring, you see. It is getting louder and louder. I have scared myself awake some nights, it is so loud.

It is now so intense that I wake up with my nasal passages and the back of my throat on fire with a pain that can only be washed away with a hot cup of tea.

And it isn't just when I am asleep. I have been known to emit the odd involuntary snort now when I am awake. Sitting watching TV the other day, I thought I heard a cat purring really close to my ear. It was me, snoring gently while fully alert.

So there is no way I could risk having a nap with a load of strange men in the house. I am very self- conscious about this. I am already dreading facing the other mothers in the maternity ward the morning after. They are all going to hate me.

So, given the strange men in the house, instead of lying on the couch snoozing, I was sitting in the dining room googling pregnancy stuff on my laptop. I was reading an article about Lotus birth – it's the new thing for the extreme natural childbirth brigade, where you don't cut the umbilical cord and detach the baby from the placenta at birth, but wait for the cord to dry out and fall off by itself.

Apparently, the whole process can take up to three days. In the meantime, the placenta is cleaned and wrapped in a cloth and carried around with the baby. And because the placenta is a "blood-rich organic substance similar to liver" it can go off, so it is sprinkled with sea salt to preserve it.

One mother, who had done the whole Lotus-birth thing with her daughter, explained it thus: "The placenta had been her companion, her plaything: its sounds had lulled her to sleep. Here she was in this alien world and we were going to cut away the one thing she knew. Why do we feel we have a right to do that?"

Jaysus woman, why not have your pelvis removed and stick it on her head as a hat? She was used to that, too.

Seriously, is the whole pushing the baby out and taking care of it for the next 20 years not challenge enough for these people?

Anyway, the whole thing must have been too much for me because I was suddenly overcome with an overwhelming urge to sleep.

I looked around. The builders seemed busy at the other end of the house. The air was filled with the sound of drilling and sanding, the perfect mask for my snoring.

Feck it, I'll chance it, I thought. Just for a minute. So, resting my elbow on the table, I put my head in my hand and nodded off. Soooo tired.

I woke about an hour later to the sound of my snoring. I had a dry mouth, a sore throat, a crick in my neck and drool on my face. Two builders stood in front of me.

"Do you mind if we move you missus," one smirked, as the other tried to stifle a laugh.

"Not at all," I croaked as I waddled off, wiping my face, with as much dignity as I could muster.


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