Monday, November 19, 2007

Undercover reporters and other news

Yep, stimulating stuff people.

On my end I'm 36 weeks pregnant today and on the home stretch. I've developed varicose veins, hemorrhoids, a touch of narcolepsy, and my hands and arms resemble Angelina Jolie's. Recently I've also been having weird twingey pains in my cervix, and have chronic back ache. But other than that, I'm just peachy.

With the pending birth of our baby, some people seem to think this is a good time to regale me with horror stories of the birth process - as happened to them, their mother, or their aunt twice removed. I'm not sure if the intention is to prepare me for the worst, and therefore seen as a service, or merely a sadistic ploy to illicit panic.

My cleaner, who is from Lithuania, and seems to read newspapers better equipped to wipe your bottom with, is also fond of telling me just what a miserable job the NHS is doing - accompanied by more nightmarish birth stories as happened to her and various other women that feature in said newspapers. She also, just for the hell of it, includes stats on infant deaths, thanks again to the inept NHS.

I'm not even having my baby on the NHS, but it still annoys the hell out of me. Some people have a very irritating tendency to form
sweeping generalised opinions based on a handful of worst case scenarios. Sure, the NHS has its faults, but as far as a subsidised public health system goes, it sure beats the hell of out some other countries where you would rather die than land up in a state-run hospital. Recently a friend of mine was asking me if I have a private doctor for general health stuff, and my response was although I have access to one through my husband's work, I am actually completely happy with my NHS surgery. I've experienced professional treatment and care there for the last 4.5 years, and before that an equally excellent surgery in Ealing for five years.

Anyway, best not to let people get you down with their scare mongering, though easier said than done when you are 8.5 months pregnant and stuff tends to get on your nerves. My sister told me that the sound of her mother-in-laws voice was akin to nails being scratched down a blackboard when she was pregnant. I laughed at the time, but it's funny how you do in fact become highly sensitised and in fact intolerant to certain people, sounds, foods and even smells when you are carrying a child. Unfortunately my cleaner, whom I normally get on with like a house on fire, has become one of those people that annoy me. Which, admittedly, may have something to do with her aforementioned negativity.

Tonight is our final antenatal class where we discuss, among other things, how ones life changes once the baby is born. Sounds like a no-brainer to me, but there are some women who do apparently have a very misguided fantasy of what having a baby involves. This seems to feature images of dressing the baby in lots of lovely little outfits, but neglects the lack of sleep, sore leaky breasts, hormonal ups and downs, and dirty nappies.

I feel like I have a one-up on the other women in my class, thanks to frank bits of advice imparted by my mother and grandmother from around the time I hit puberty. These went something to the effect of: "Do not have children they will ruin your life." Sometimes this was phrased as: "Do not have children it will ruin your marriage." Another version might be: "Once you have kids your life is over." The last being my favourite, I think, in terms of its simple eloquent minimalism, yet 'cover all bases' kind of appeal.

Suffice it to say, I've got a pretty well established idea that once the baby arrives it's not going to be an easy ride. I'm hoping this 'preparing for the worst' kind of thinking means I might be pleasantly surprised if it doesn't turn out that bad. "Don't count on it," I can almost hear my grandmother saying.

Photo: Daily Mail

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