I have a terrible memory. I have to be reminded what I did for Christmas last year, I’m hopeless with people’s names and if I’m texted and asked to swing by and pick up [insert here] from the shops on the way home from work, I invariably walk through the door empty handed.
But I remember her. I remember everything about the midwife who helped me bring the little unknown human inside me out into this fierce and demanding world.
She was a lot smaller than me (which wouldn’t be hard). A runner she said. Sporty. In her 30s. Funny in a dry way. Pragmatic, intuitive, tenacious and warm. Dressed in navy blue with a blonde ponytail. Her hands all worker: clean, no polish, short nails, ready.
In that funny delivery room where times stands still and races, where you really have entered an alternative universe, the three of us chatted at first in between contractions like friends at a very strange pub, probably from Star Wars. In the middle of this strange land so separate from the world, we found we could talk to each other. Two clothed people, one completely naked with a bulging tummy and shining big breasts talking about the City to Surf race.
When the contractions took over the room I had the brightest of ideas. I lay naked in the foetal position on a gym mat on the floor and announced to my husband and the midwife, "Look, I've been thinking about this," I said arching my head up from the gym mat in their direction. "How about we come back tomorrow and do this then?"
I really meant it. I thought it was a clever solution to avoid the pain. I would simply delay it ... until tomorrow. It was all terribly reasonable. I remember them both looking down at me and saying kind things to the naked pregnant woman lying on the floor. She broke it gently.
"I'm pretty sure you are going to have this baby today."
When the pain became everything I remember asking her "When are you going to leave me?"
I thought midwives came and went, they didn't stay with you.
"I'm not going anywhere."
That last month of pregnancy can be a killer. But you can do it! Listen ...
I remember her taking me into the shower and spraying my lower back with steaming hot water. I remember her explaining calmly, as she held a bowl, why I was vomiting (It is common apparently for women in transition to vomit). I liked the knowledge. The knowledge of what was happening to my body helped.