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Keep Your Knickers On

by Lizzie Brown

During pregnancy you have so many appointments with so many different people you lose track. By the time you give birth the majority of the NHS has seen your foof or at least your bump and spoken to you about your foof. You have no dignity by the time baby arrives and quite frankly you aren’t really that bothered. Well I wasn’t. Maybe I’m just odd.

Previously I have had hospital appointments that have not gone according to plan. For example a doctor once asked me to pop on the bed so he could examine me, “Of course” I said. If I am totally honest I don’t think he expected me to have taken my trousers and knickers off before getting on the table. He was horrified, I was horrified. I genuinely thought this is what he wanted to happen.
Apparently not.
Next thing you know a red faced, sheepish doctor returns with a lovely nurse who states “I’m just here as a witness to protect you both”. Due to this mishap I was very conscious throughout my pregnancy that some people may not want me to take my clothes off so I often asked for instructions/conversations to be clarified to prevent my past mistakes happening again. I kept thinking my midwife and others must be really frustrated with me, they must think I am thick as I keep repeating things for clarity. As the pregnancy went on I didn’t care if they thought this I would rather I fully understood everything than leaving it to Mr Google to educate.
Google often provides information that is not accurate and informs you that the niggly pain in your side/back/head/any body part means you are going to die. The headache you have is obviously a brain tumour and the pain in your leg must mean it is definitely broken and may need amputating. I would often Google symptoms and then worry that something was wrong until my husband told me I was ridiculous. I have always told him off for googling symptoms and now here I was doing it myself. One night I woke up with excruciating pain in my stomach. I initially thought it was trapped wind but after moving around nothing shifted. I googled it. I was either dying or had preeclampsia. Balls. I woke Ed, he’s not good when woken, and asked for help. He called the hospital while I painted our bathroom a gorgeous shade of sick.
They told him to bring me down immediately and they would monitor baby. We arrived at the hospital at 3am and quickly I was rigged up to a machine, still in pain but also very concerned for the baby. It was a stressful time so I wanted to check my husband was ok. I turned my head from the monitor to him, put my hand on his shoulder and said “are you Ok?” He looked me straight in the eyes and said “actually I’m really bored”. What? You’re what? Bored? Are you actually joking? This comment obviously didn’t go down well. I was not impressed. My biggest concern was our unborn child not how amused my husband was. He then followed his comment and suggest we watched a film on his phone while we waited for results and help me feel better. You can imagine my response. He quickly shuffled off to the coffee shop to get himself a coffee.
Baby was fine and we never discovered what was wrong with me but over time the pain faded.
During the majority of my appointments I bumped into an ex student who I taught for a few years. She was due the week before me. When I first saw her I almost tried to avoid her, don’t get me wrong she is lovely and I really enjoyed teaching her but I hate bumping into students out of school it can often be quite awkward.  Students are horrified you leave the school and lead a normal life.  One boy once proudly asked me “What are you doing here in a and e it’s for members of the public?” He clearly thought I was not entitled to medical treatment. But any way, this student was clearly trying to avoid me too. We both shared a little smile and a hello and got on with waiting for our own appointment. As time went on I would often bump into her, most appointments or even emergency appointments we were there at the same time. She even worked at the hospital I discovered and took my blood pressure. I was so proud of her when she did this, she made me feel so comfortable and was fabulous at her job. It’s lovely to see students excelling and working after school.
It became a running joke at work whether I had bumped into her. On the final occasion it was 2 weeks before my due date, I had to go in as my waters had broken and she was in  the triage waiting room with her mum. She was hilarious and really kept me entertained. She was fuming at the waiting times and didn’t care who knew. She said everything that everyone was thinking just at a very loud volume to ensure all could hear. It was fabulous. I was gutted that at future appointments I didn’t bump into her as she kept me so entertained. Bumping into me also became a running joke for them. I was convinced I’d be in labour and she would pop up at the end of my bed. Thankfully this part didn’t happen but I have never spontaneously bumped into anyone as much as I did with her.
One of the appointments we had a shockingly awful midwife. I was sent to the hospital due to high blood pressure towards the end of my pregnancy (this happened every 48 hours!). She put me on the monitor to check baby and informed us she couldn’t hear a heartbeat. Yes love you haven’t turned the volume up. She also took my blood pressure. She pumped up the cuff and then realised she didn’t have her stethoscope. My thumb went numb while she was out looking for it. She then stuck someone else’s name on my notes. Seriously shocking. I thought Ed was going to kick her. Thankfully he kept his feet to himself, plus his coordination is pretty shit so probably would have missed, kicked himself or fallen over.
I think it’s hilarious they can tell in appointments if your baby is growing well by using a bog standard tape measure like the one a seamstress uses. I also think the cave torch they use during labour is even funnier. How far are the expecting me to open? Fingers crossed bats don’t fly out. You would think technology had moved on over all these years but nope they still use normal household items thought the pregnancy and labour. You would also think I would find it less funny each time I saw the “tools”. I did not. Crikey I am irritating they must have dreaded appointments with me.
In my final hospital visit (or so I thought) whilst giving birth there was a giant mural on the wall. Lovely. The room was so calming and relaxing and the mural was a waterfall. I hadn’t really noticed it. I was too concerned about the horrendous pains I was experiencing every few minutes but my husband had noticed it and decided he was going to stand by it. Please bare in mind at this point I had no sense of humour, it had vanished and there were no signs of it returning any time soon. Whilst Edward was standing next to the picture he pretend to wash his hair. When I noticed what he was doing I enquired what the hell he was doing. “Does it look like I am in a hair advert? Because I’m worth it”. I am there in pain, about to squeeze a melon out of a pin hole and he is there doing impressions of hair adverts and having his 30 seconds of fame. Moments like this I question what I was thinking when I made my vows. Am I really about to have a baby with this man?
Later that night once Felix had appeared a midwife came into my room and asked me if everything was ok. “I’m fine thank you but I am concerned I haven’t felt baby move in a while.”
“Yes love, you gave birth 3 hours ago to that baby there. I think you’re tired. Maybe try and get some sleep”. Tired was an understatement. I was exhausted and clearly confused. Ed was really laughing at me as was the midwife.
I quickly realised it doesn’t matter how tired you are sometimes you just cannot and will not sleep as you have a baby to look after, stare at and check on several thousand times during the day and night. Even when Felix slept through the night last night I did not. Will I ever sleep a whole night again?


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