Boo boo in select company

Boo boo in select company
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Wednesday, 5 August 2015


Child-birth - No, nothing medical about this one. This, I am writing for Mellisa who is going to become a mother for the first time, probably on the eleventh of August:

   I had my first baby at home in India. All I remember is my lack of faith in the family faffing around and trusting only to the mid-wife, who came and went. She must have had several on the go that day. The doctor, a lady (what else in India?) turned up twice during labour. She was newly qualified and a friend from school-days. That visit felt more social then professional. 

   Afterwards I had a feeling of messiness and not enough disinfectant, though the house smelled of Jeyes fluid for many days after. I always felt unclean, with the primitive sanitary arrangements. My son wet my bed and later, soiled it constantly and I had to find the dry spots wherever. Never again here, I said to myself.

   My doctor visited again after a month and left a baby-book by Benjamin Spock, from which I learned to do up a nappy properly. Dry beds after that, thank God.

   I had luck on my side - and I hope Mellisa is also blessed - in that I did not have to have stitches or Caesarean or any intervention at all. The labour was long as you would expect of a primie. But being India, I was not to mention it to any man who came by. When the next-door man came by, I had to pretend that I had no contractions. He had too much to say that day, all of no consequence, while I winced and prayed for him to go, go GO!

   My second child born in Sree Lanka took all of one hour to appear. The doctors did not expect him quite so soon and I had to shout for assistance at the last minute. But there were many doctors and nurses about in Dr Abeyasinghe's pristine nursing home. I had no complaints. Except, my husband struggled to pay the final bill and I had to wait an extra day in the hospital while he borrowed the money at high interest.

   The third baby, born in a remote bush-hospital in Anua, Eastern Nigeria, was a revelation. She was two weeks late and arrived calmly. She was a happy baby who rarely cried. The Irish nuns made me feel that nothing could go wrong and nothing did. I listened to the noises of a woman suffering eclampsia in the early hours of the morning, in a room not too far away, but the Sisters there were so unruffled I knew she would be alright.

The fourth was a painless labour, because I had learned the method from a book I had picked up in W H Smith's in Victoria, by Erna Wright. I was in a lovely nursing home in Enugu and there were four doctors in attendance, who simply could not believe that there was no pain. The pain came later - I had three days of depression and hysteria after the birth. I think my uterus had had enough and I decided to give it a rest for good.

I enjoyed all the babies and think of those months as the happiest in my life.

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