The Birth (No Need to Cry)
After countless prep sessions watching One Born Every Minute, a set of four antenatal classes where we chatted about diamorphine and passed around what look like vaginal salad tongs (forceps, I believe)and three weeks obsessively 'nesting' I was prepared. Hospital bag packed, un-packed and then re-packed (they said I needed two packs of maternity towels, that couldn't be right, surely?) and the freezer stocked with meals I had spent ages preparing but we would never eat, I waited.
When I went into labour (picture a whale trying to have a relaxing bath and lots of exercise-ball bouncing while my husband timed my contractions on some birthing app he’d downloaded, seriously they have an app for everything nowadays) I was feeling quite optimistic. I think it is important to let you know from the outset that I have never been an overly broody person but I was really looking forward to the moment I would first see my baby and that natural maternal instinct would kick-inafter bringing new life into the world.
It was quite an amazing experience, and woman to woman I am not lying when I tell you it really wasn't as bad as I had expected, but I couldn't help but feel guilty when Henry arrived and the often talked about 'sudden rush of love' didn't hit me in the way I was expecting. Don't get me wrong, it is a remarkable process and delivering a healthy baby after all that anticipation was such a relief. But that was just it; above all possible emotions I was hit solely with an enormous wave of relief.
I had seen every OBEM episode going and it is an absolute given that the new parents always cry. Always. And believe me I am a crier - I've been known to cry at property programmes and Jeremy Kyle. We had even joked about waterproof mascara.
No prizes for guessing then that I didn't cry. Not a single tear was shed between my husband, James, and I at the birth of our firstborn. It felt like more of a High Five moment, or would have been had both my hands not been attached to a drip of some description. James dressed a tiny baby Henry in one of the outfits we had lovingly packed and it was far too big. I was a pretty cross at our wasted effort choosing new clothes (he ended up in a second hand newborn outfit that had shrunk in the wash). It was all quite functional. Kind of how I'd imagine the launch of a product to be after you've designed it and taken delivery but then have teething problems to address.
I want to make it clear that post-labour I was not depressed, or tanked up with painkillers, or experiencing some kind of delayed euphoric reaction. And we were happy that the newest member of our family had arrived safely - he was gorgeous! I was simply underwhelmed by the process in comparison to the picture that I had bought into through witnessing endless emotional labour scenes in films and on TV. So underwhelmed, in fact, that I later had a cry about the fact that I hadn’t cried. The dangers of expecting too much, perhaps. Welcome to motherhood.