A beginner’s guide to labour and birth…

My first experience at giving birth was filled with self induced terror. I was petrified of the unknown. Would I be able to bear the pain? How much would it hurt? Would Jason think less of me if I opted for pain relief? If I allowed him to see the birth – like a front row seat at the ‘action’ end of the bed – would he ever lose the image of a human being emerging from my girly bits? Or in ten years time would he still see a smashed up vagina in place of my face? So many questions, no answers. So here’s what I ‘ve learnt during two natural births and two caesareans…

Firstly, let’s get the elephant out of the room – giving birth is a beautiful experience. Ignore other’s horror stories. Your vagina will not:

• Explode,
• Be ripped in two,
• Require a reconstruction or transplant, or
• Remain so stretched that your uterus will fall out as you walk down the street.

Everything will go back to how it was prior to giving birth. Your vagina is like a concertina – an organ that old Italian men play with a monkey sitting on top. Not that your vagina will have a monkey sitting on top, or an old Italian man playing with it, (but hey, whatever floats your boat is cool with me) – but it will s-t-r-e-t-c-h. That is what it’s designed to do, so like a piece of elastic, it will contract again afterwards.

You may have some scars if you require stitching, but unlike bullet wounds, stabbings or spectacular falls as a child, it is best not to display them to onlookers at backyard BBQ’s or enter into ‘my scar is bigger and better than yours’ competitions at local bars. That would be icky.

Be prepared that, at the birth, your partner may be confused, dazed, totally useless and possibly unconscious on the floor if he ventures down the other end of the birthing bed in order to see his baby crowning. Parking the car is likely to be his finest moment of the evening. But don’t worry, there’s a perfectly normal explanation for this:

He’s a man.

We all know that men are repulsed by the word ‘period’ and all the relevant associations. My husband refers to it as being ‘broken’ or ‘unserviceable’ . This is due to his former occupation as a military pilot. If a helicopter was not able to be used it was ‘unserviceable’ and the saying has now transferred to me. Charming, I know.

Men seem to require sedation and lose all mental agility around:

• the word ‘period’,
• when women discuss periods, or,
• when a feminine hygiene product advertisement comes on television, particularly that one that starts off with, “We all know that vaginas leak at times…”

So expecting him to cope in a constructive manner with the birth of his baby is perhaps overly optimistic. Put him in front of a Rambo, Texas Chainsaw Massacre or The Expendables movie and the blood fest is welcome. Have that same blood fall out of a woman’s vagina and he falls to pieces.

In all honesty, most men don’t know what to do with themselves during labour and birth. This is because they are ‘fixers’ and ‘problem solvers’ but in this situation, they are powerless to do anything other than offer emotional support , which is ironic because it’s usually not their forte.
So, what do you do? Make friends with your midwife – she’ll look after you. Trust in your own body that it knows what to do and don’t over think it. You haven’t had to consciously build a baby in the preceding nine months, your body has just done it on auto pilot. So let it happen again during the birth – this is what your body is designed to do.

Enjoy the most incredible experience of your life and watch in awe as your big, strong man turns into a teary, emotional mess as he holds his child in his arms for the first time, because that’s the moment you get to watch him fall in love with the precious gift you’ve given him. After that, settle back and bask in all the worship he has to give you, particularly those that come in the form of a diamond big enough to build a three storey house on.

The only Vulva in the house…

“Mum, we’re learning sexuality education at school,” says Ethan, my seven year old son.
“Already? But you’re only in grade two.”

“What do you mean, mate?” asks my husband, Jason.

“I can name all of our toilet parts,” he says confidently, ” penis, scrot-chum, vagina…”
“Great, well done,” I say. Not exactly dinner conversation, is it? “So, what else happened today?”
“Well,  I know that you have a viola, mum.”

I choke on my own saliva, “whaaaat did you say?”

Jason is sniggering in the background while my jaw bounces off the table.

“I said, I know that you have a viola, you know, down there.” Ethan points to his crotch, a gentle shade of pink creeping across his face. At least he has the good grace to blush.
“No Eth, I don’t have a viola, down there,” I reply. “Good lord Jason, what the hell are they teaching these kids?”

“Yes, you do.” His little chin sticks out with great indignance.
“Ethan, if there was a large violin in my girlie bits, don’t you think I’d know about it?”

“Oh, wait. No! It’s a Volvo. That’s it, you have a Volvo.”

Jason is now openly laughing.

“No, it’s not called a Volvo either,”  I say.
“A vulture?” Now he’s just guessing.
Jason has graduated to hysterics, tears running down his cheeks as his face paralysed.

Ethan  catches on that he has an audience and follows his father’s lead, even though he has no idea what he’s laughing at.

“No! It is certainly not called a vulture. A vulture is a bird that eats dead meat. Only an idiot would put his penis near that.”
“Stop, stop! …can’t breathe,” Jason gasps. What’s the next step from hysterics? Heart attack?

“Why would any man want to put his penis near a vulture?” Ethan asks innocently. The expression on his face tells me that the sexuality education hasn’t gone into details yet – thank god.

“He wouldn’t. It’s not called a vulture Ethan. It’s called a…”
“A Vulva! That’s it mum! You’ve got a Vulva.”

Great. My seven year old son knows the name and location of my Vulva. Excellent.

Jason has no hope of composing himself any time soon. Every time he looks at me he’s off again, thumbing the tears away from his eyes, his face the colour of a vine ripened tomato.

So there you go. Life as the only female in a house of five males can be tough. Sure, I am the Queen and Princess rolled into one, but I am also the odd one out. The minority. The lonely girl.  The only one with a Vulva.

The unflushable beast…

Our son did enormous poohs. Not lots of pooh, just one long turd the size of my forearm. The police could have used it as a trudgeon. The main problem was that each turd was so huge it was impossible to flush. I flushed one six times and it still didn’t go away. It was like a submerged crocodile, lodged in the bowl glaring at me. In fact, I’m positive that it had eyes that followed me around the bathroom as I pondered my next move.

Beating it to death with the toilet brush yielded no results either. God knows what these turds were made of; because it wasn’t regular human waste we were dealing with. These turds had the molecular structure of diamond encrusted titanium and the density of a black hole.  They were impervious to the mere flushing of water.

Leaving one to ‘disintegrate’ over night was a tough choice to make.  Luckily we have two toilets in the house because the ‘let the sleeping log lie’ plan rendered one toilet uninhabitable. No one wanted to be in the same room as the dormant turd because it was just plain scary. Its presence resulted in the accumulation of a dark energy that freaked all of us out. I even made my husband get out of bed to close the lid of the toilet in case it slithered out and tried to kill us in our sleep.

The next morning I entered the bathroom confident that our plan had worked.  All that was needed now was a quick flush and the turd would be gone. Nothing of organic material could survive being immersed in water over night. It would have absorbed so much water that it had collapsed in on itself.  One flush should all that was needed, maybe two.  And so it was done – the flush and then another for luck.

Lifting the lid my heart went from a rumba to completely still.  No! It’s not possible! Nothing can survive six flushes, a toilet brush clubbing, an overnight immersion, and another two flushes. What in God’s name is this thing made of?

“Jason?” I called out to my husband. “It’s still here. It just won’t go away.”
My husband, ever the problem solver with a crafty lateral mind, thought about it for a moment and then looked at me, shaking his head.

“I can’t believe I’m going to do this, but…” as he disappeared into the garage.

My mind was racing, as it usually does when he’s on the case.  What brilliant plan had he come up with?

The hinges on my jaw broke when he reappeared with a three foot long hand saw in his grasp.

“Step aside. This may not be pretty,” he said, passing me and confronting the turd.

I watched mouth agape, eyes the size of hubcaps as my husband dipped the hand saw into the bowl and began to saw the turd into three pieces. Jason’s a big, strong man, and although he didn’t raise a sweat, he certainly put some elbow into it.

He flushed, once, twice, three times and then finally raised his hands in victory.

“It’s gone. Thank god, it’s gone,” he said.

Other than a few skiddies, there was nothing to suggest that it had even been there in the first place and peace was restored again.

Until the next night, when our son laid another monster turd. But this time, we were prepared. We knew how to defeat the beast.  And so it continued, the laying and the slaying every second night until our son would just yell, “Dad! I’ve done a pooh. You’re gonna need the saw again.”

We were glad when his pooh returned to normal, human sized portions because we had visions of him living in his own house when he is older, having a nice girl over who uses his bathroom and emerges asking,

“Luke, I understand the toilet brush in the loo, but what’s with the saw?”