Or: Things No-One Tells You About Pregnancy And Babies: No. 2. (Or ‘Twos’, to be precise.)
There is only one topic today, and it’s this: poo. A subject I have discussed extensively before, it’s true, but usually because of Teddy and the alarming nature of his emissions. Tonight’s bathtime, for instance, included a fart of such a volcanic nature that he made himself jump. Thankfully, the only thing to erupt into the bath was a series of large bubbles.
Poo is something that concerns every pregnant person. And I don’t mean baby poo, I mean proper grown-up poo. Basically it’s this: all preggos know that at some point in the not too far future they’re going to be told to push a baby out of their front bottom, and in so doing there’s a pretty good chance something might emerge from their back bottom at the same time. Honestly: you try and push from the front without pushing from the back – it’s not rub-your-head-and-pat-your-belly hard, it’s impossible.
So it struck me that this really needs to go into my list. In fact, it should have been first. I can’t think of a single person I know who has given birth in the last few years who hasn’t worried about it. It’s a worrying thing.
“Ha ha!” trills your What To Expect book, “it’s nothing to worry about! For a start, it’ll be the last thing on your mind!”
I can assure you that, after 24 hours of labour, face to face with a ventouse suction cup and three midwives, dosed up on entonox, pethidine AND an epidural (like a delicious cherry on top) it was still at the forefront of my mind.
“Oh pish!” it giggles, “It’s nothing to worry about! Your body has a fabulous way of getting rid of waste before the main event!”
It means, dear reader, that if you’re lucky you’ll get the shits just as you start your contractions. It’s a beautiful time. And this is largely true. But just because you’ve had a nice big evacuation at the start of your labour, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re, um, entirely cleaned out.
“Tee hee!” it chirps, “Even if it does happen, it’s nothing midwives haven’t seen before! They’ll whisk it away before you know what’s happened!”
Now, okay, yes, this is largely true – midwives have seen a LOT of poo, and they’re incredible people doing an amazing job, and one of their fabulous bits of magicianship concern swiping away poo wordlessly (not, say, pointing at it and saying “urgh, you did a doo-doo”). On that topic, there are many other unsung magical things they do (as well as bringing new life into the world), such as commenting on the beauty of your mangled, poo-covered newborn without laughing. They are, quite simply, gods of the highest order.
So there we are – that’s the concern. And who wouldn’t be concerned? Who, apart from the worst sort of internet weirdo, wants to poo themselves in front of, a) strangers and, b) their birth partner? Even just the idea of it is ludicrously humiliating. That thing about pregnant women being really hot all the time? It’s because they’ve been blushing furiously for six months with the emotional turmoil that is Poo Worry. And seriously, if you speak to anyone who’s pregnant, and who isn’t too arsed about speaking about their bodily functions, everyone – everyone – is worried about this small expected factor in their near futures.
What I find strange, however, is that while pregnant people are all frantically worrying about popping out a poo in public, and are usually more than happy to voice their fears at length over a flat white, it’s a completely different story after they’ve actually had the baby.
Because here’s the thing: I have recently uncovered a dark Masonic sisterhood which exists solely to hide the more scatalogical aspects of birth from the uninitiated. It’s like they’ve all gone to see An Inspector Calls, and at the end of the show, the director has gone up on stage and said: “ladies, two things: please don’t tell anyone who’s not seen the play who did it. And while I’m here, don’t ever tell anyone who’s pregnant that you probably shat yourself while giving birth. I thank you.” *applause*
And it’s true. Your jolly friend who happily confided her Poo Worry the week before birth doesn’t even mention it afterwards. She doesn’t say a single word. And of course you can’t ask her, because she’s not slept for a fortnight, looks like crap and is crying because she just dumped two litres of carefully stored breast milk down the sink by mistake. Asking if she popped out a poo during birth seems churlish at best.
You might also discover that although she might mention that her baby was delivered by forceps, she won’t describe how vast they are, and that they resemble the sort of tongs one might use on an industrial barbecue to flip half a suckling pig over. She has also failed to tell you that since she was 14 weeks pregnant she wasn’t able to sneeze without wetting her pants, and that her partner turned green while cutting the cord cos it felt a bit, y’know, gristly. These things – and I’m sure there are many more out there – are kept buried within this secret sect. And I feel it is my duty to uncover them all and tell you The Truth.
We need to stop this befluffing of the birth story right now. It’s not all “Pant, pant, pant, one big push Mrs Newman, aaaaaaand here you go! One squeaky clean baby, and one squeaky clean hoo-hah”, it turns out. If it were up to me, I think it’s only proper that when a baby is born the resulting text from the proud parent to all friends and family should contain the following information:
- time of birth
- yes, she did a massive poo
- mum and baby doing fine
And if I’m going to stick to this rule, I should tell you my story. And you know, I wish mine was a bit more poo-filled for the purposes of this post, but the truth is I simply don’t know – which is really rather embarrassing. In retrospect, I think it would have been impossible for me to have pushed out Teddy without having at least a tiny poo at the same time, but Dave has gallantly said that he didn’t notice anything, I certainly didn’t notice anything, and those midwives did an excellent job of swishing all the grisly stuff away while we were cooing over the little person we’d made. It’s a tentative ‘maybe’ in my case, sadly without any charming descriptive poo passages. How vexing.
And after already having pushed out one baby, god knows what’s going to happen this time. But I solemnly promise you now: if it all ends in pooey tears, I consider it my duty to tell you all about it. Now there’s something to look forward to in a month’s time.