‘So, when can I mark the delivery date in my diary?’ I smiled purposefully, pen hovering, ready to commit the date. ‘You see my mother is flying out for 10 days to give me a hand, and she wants to book her flight.’
My new doctor (who is from sturdy, Syrian stock) raised her thick eyebrows, and fixed me with a steely glare. ‘Well, you are due in early August my dear– and there might be a two-week margin either way,’ she said firmly. ‘Your mother can adjust her flight nearer the time…’
‘Erm, how does that work?’ I replied, trying to prevent the alarm from creeping in. Stay in control. Keep calm… ‘After all, I’m having a planned c-section. Remember?’
She flapped her papers about disapprovingly, harrumphed as she read my notes on the computer screen, and raised her steely glare to mine once more. ‘We don’t finalize a date until mid-way through your eighth month,’ she replied eventually, with a non-negotiable twitch of her impressive tash.
‘Fine. No problem. Just as long as you know that as I’m paying for it, I’m having a c-section,’ I finished, rather firmly for me, I thought.
Now it’s not that I have anything against the ‘natural-birth brigade’. In fact, I am thoroughly respectful and downright awestruck by anyone who can happily push a 3.5kg baby through a hole the size of a tiddlywink, and then gush that it was an ‘amazing’ experience that they’d ‘happily repeat.’
I even gamely tried it once, but found it such absolute hell on earth, that I vowed never – unless I found myself in a post apocalypse – to do such a dreadful thing again.
Yes, the mammoth 50+hour labour, resulting in a broken coccyx, more stitches than in fleet of Olympic sprinters and a poor, battered baby rendered so grumpy by the process that he cried almost non-stop for a year, made me realise eau naturelle is not for me.
Furthermore, most fellow mothers I know when they delivered their precious firstborns, are presented with wonderful, ‘push presents’ – exclusive jewellery pieces given by doting husbands to mark the occasion. Fashionista mum received a dazzling diamond Tiffany solitaire for her one and only stab at motherhood, while Alpha mum has a huge, Harry Winston, four row ‘traffic’ ring, that her rich husband embellishes with yet another astoundingly expensive stone, every time she squeezes an annoyingly perfect child out.
Meanwhile, old muggins here was in such a sorry state after being practically torn in two, that the only ring DH thought to buy me was a blow-up one I could sit on. Admittedly at the time, being able to sit felt even more precious and luxurious than the Cartier emerald eternity ring I’d admired so hopefully in Emirates Towers Boulevard prior to delivery. But still….
So youngest son was born via the sunroof. And yes dear reader, the whole process was an absolute revelation. From the business of ‘checking in’ to my 7am ‘surgical slot’, to the vast amounts of pethadine and wonderful aftercare I received in the luxurious private hospital room, I barely felt as though I’d given birth at all. It really was more like I’d been on one of those intensive spa breaks at an exclusive retreat in the Swiss Alps, where you go through a few, grueling, beatifying processes that aren’t very comfortable, and then end up with the most spectacular results – in my case, an angelic and contented bouncing baby boy…
And having a baby the way you want to, (especially if it’s surgical) is positively encouraged in the UAE. Why? Because expats have to maintain private medical insurance, so our doctors are (usually) sympathetic to requirements. You need to time baby’s arrival to coincide with your husband’s business trip itinerary? Sure thing Honey! No problem! Need the delivery to fit in with the school holidays? of course madam! But even if you want a water birth with accompanying whale-music, Maurice dancers and a troupe from New Zealand performing the Hakka, there’s a hospital in Al Ain offering that too.
Only, things are a little different for us this time around because for some ridiculously stupid reason, we changed our health insurance policy to another company, thinking our coverage level was the same as the first two times. It wasn’t. And so, baby number three will be born in the reputable government hospital, via their slightly cost-reduced private scheme – instead of the luxurious American Hospital, which serves up new parents a Champagne dinner as part of the package – sob! And the doctors at our current hospital are rather like those you’d find on the NHS (very skilled and able – but rather determined you’ll do things their way….
Of course, both my mother and mother-in-law who are made of sterner stuff (well, they were in the olden days – it was all that carbolic soap) think I’m rather pathetic.
‘Your oldest brother was breech so he came out sideways. I delivered him with zero pain relief after a 600 hour labour and almost lost a leg in the process. But I still cycled the 50-mile London to Brighton annual jaunt a week later with him strapped to my back in a papoos,’ declared my mother (a matriarch of seven naturally born children) as she pulled the cord of her chainsaw and proceeded to clear the miniature forest she lovingly calls her ‘shrubbery’. ‘You girls these days are such a bunch of softies.’
Mother-in-law is just as bad. Five natural births, the last one with twin boys, has her convinced that the bigger the baby, the less childbirth actually hurts…
I know! Of course, it completely defies the laws of physics! But women like this are so damn tough, it’s best not to argue the toss with them…
And the point is, I’m not actually too posh to push, I’m just too scared, not afraid to admit it – and neither am I alone…. Let’s face it girls, stitches where the sun don’t shine are a real bummer…
Why just this morning, a friend who is due to deliver imminently, and had been spewing forth about the virtues of natural birth, did a volte face and confided that she was actually extremely relieved to be requiring a caesarian… ‘I really didn’t want to go through all that again,’ she muttered, in relieved tones, ‘especially as I’ve only just had my roids fixed from the last time!’
So I say, ‘each to their own and no judging! Also, let’s have a bit more honesty too when it comes to the exiting of babies.
We all have to live with the consequences of our decisions – both financially and physically. And personally, I don’t want another broken under-carriage, new piles or sneeze-wee. Plus, as the best ‘push present’ I’d get out of DH would probably be another hemorrhoid ring, I might as well get him to fork out for the more expensive surgical delivery package. At least I’ll get to lie in bed and watch cable TV for four days… Now that really can’t be bad!