Another Demented Ballerina
From within the confines of the womb I had apparently overheard the doctor telling my mother when I was due, because despite the fact that the waters had broken and contractions begun, I refused to be born until the appointed date, at 3 o’clock in the morning. As a consequence, the initial humiliations of the first day in hospital were only the beginning of four days of constant pain and abject misery without respite for my poor mother – with the added torment that no-one could even giver her a small modicum of comfort by being able to say when it would finally be over.
When the pain of the contractions became unbearable, my mother would leap out of bed and grab hold of the nearest radiator, which was conveniently fixed to the wall by her bed, and bear down for all she was worth, teeth clenched, sweat pouring down her face in rivulets, holding on to the radiator looking rather like like a demented ballerina practising pliés after breaking both legs. This was, the doctors and nurses told her, one of the worst things she could do, as it certainly did not help the baby (me) on its journey into the world, but for her it was the only way she could lessen the unrelenting agony.
Of course, the constant sweating made it necessary for her to drink copious amounts of water, but this innocuous liquid was to be the cause of yet further distress, because try as she might, my mum could not pee. The first time this occurred, a catheter was swiftly introduced to siphon off the excess urine – a blessed relief which, sadly, was to be short-lived. The next time my mother felt the need, she rang for the nurse, her bladder at bursting point, only to be told that the doctor had decided she could rid herself of her own bodily fluids. The nurse helped my poor mum onto a bed pan where she remained for an unfruitful half hour. Desperate beyond measure, she finally climbed out of bed and went into the nearest toilet and sat there for another fifteen minutes, again without success.
Pregnant women are prone to inexplicable mood swings and a host of other strange behavioural changes. My mother’s subsequent actions could most likely be attributed to this fact. She went into every single lavatory she could find, with the unmitigated belief that, were she to stumble across the right toilet, her distended bladder would gush forth it loathsome contents and she would be able to return to her radiator. Alas this was not to be, and the pregnant form of my mother shuffling along the hospital corridors crying in utter despair, pain and frustration, eventually brought her hospital-wide public acclaim. After my birth, and the subsequent ward change, she was faced with a new group of health care workers, who would look at her and exclaim, “Ohhh! You’re the one who had trouble with her waterworks, aren’t you dear!” and a triumphant grin would replace the frown of uncertainty on the face of the astute medical worker.
Coming in Part 4: The Birth.