Labour will happen
Recently, it's started to dawn on me that I'm going to give birth to a child.
As utterly daft as it may sound, despite being five months pregnant, I have only realised that this baby isn't just going to turn up with an Amazon Prime delivery or indeed pull up a chair at the pub and say 'Alright Mum? I'm here now, can you get me a juice - I can't reach the bar.' within the last couple of weeks.
Call it a coping mechanism, denial or downright stupidity, but I've kept my head firmly in the sand when it comes to anything after the second trimester. My first trimester passed in a blur of terror, exhaustion, anxiety and sickness, scared to even sneeze in case anything happened to the baby and trying, unsuccessfully, to manage high stress levels.
The second trimester felt like 'home' in a game of tag, the safe zone and you just have to keep running until you get there. I read enchanting tales of sickness abating, energy levels rising and appetite returning.
Trimester one didn't agree with me. I cried over the most irrational things, I worried constantly, I threw up daily and I lost a stone in weight.
I counted down the days until those first twelve weeks were over... but I didn't even consider anything beyond the second trimester.
The books are somewhat correct about the second trimester. I've got more energy, I can walk past a Pret A Manger without throwing up and my emotions have somewhat stabilised.
There are two things, however, that I wasn't prepared for in the slightest. The first was pain.
Something inside me has grown from the size of a blueberry to the size of a banana in just a couple of months - of course, things are going to stretch.
It feels quite like I've been hitting the gym three times a day and working solely on my lower stomach, getting up from the sofa now comes with an 'Ooomph!' and changing sleeping position in the night takes a good couple of minutes. It's manageable and it's my body doing what it should, but that was not in my vision of the glorious second trimester. The second is the realisation that labour is imminent. Most women are fully aware that labour is a part of pregnancy. It's pretty common knowledge, and I am fully aware that millions of other women in the world have, and will continue, to go into labour and give birth to their babies. I knew everyone else was going to do it, I just didn't think that I was going to do it. I felt sure that my body was just going to let me down, clamp up and anatomically refuse to get a baby out. I figured everybody was just going to have to sort something else out, because I couldn't push a baby out down there. Safe to say, labour wasn't on my to-do list.
And then I re-read a harrowing yet enlightening chapter from Caitlin Moran's How to be a Woman.
In a nutshell, she describes giving birth to her two children. The first, like me, she was adamant she wasn't going to be able to do it; doctors waiting around for a big show that wasn't to take place.
During labour, her body closed up; the tension, the stress and fear lasted hours and hours and hours, climaxing in a traumatic, painful emergency Caesarean. It isn't an easy read, but it's eye-opening. For the second birth, Moran walks for hours to cope with the pain. She emphasises her breathing, being aware of the pain and readying her body for the challenge to come. Shortly afterwards, her second daughter is born into a much more peaceful and far less violent environment.
Now, I'm not a very zen person.
I'm good at public relations, Bananagrams, roast dinners and getting my guests contentedly drunk.
I'm not good at napping, mindfulness or emptying my head.
Any attempt at meditation is usually along the lines of:
'Okay, here we go. Meditation, clearing my head. Thinking about nothing... That Zara Home candle smells amazing, I wonder if they do a room diffuser... No. Stop. Think about nothing. Oceans, whales mooing... Do whales moo? A male whale is called a bull and a baby one a calf, and it does sound like they moo... Aimee, stop being a twat, concentrate. Empty your head... I should really drink some green tea. I'll probably Instagram it... Nobody needs to know about the litre of Sprite I polished off earlier. It's all part of the illusion of being mindful. Shit, I'm meant to be meditating. Okay, empty your head................. Ooh it's working! I'm thinking about nothing! I wonder how long I should be doing this for... I really do need to go to the supermarket, I'm sure we're out of Lenor. Oh buggar this. I'm going to Sainsbury's.'
But labour is coming, and I have to keep my body and my mind calm for it.
Despite my ignorance in earlier weeks, it is going to happen and there is nothing I can do about it, so I can either clench up and spend the next half of pregnancy terrified, or when the time comes, I can fix my lipstick, play some Cher, take some deep breaths and bloody well handle it like a girl boss.