As I write this, a pregnant pause has descended on the world as we await news of the royal baby. This morning I cycled past St Mary’s hospital where Kate Middleton is due to give birth. I gave birth here myself, 20 years ago, in the Lindo Wing and today I nearly had to be hospitalised again, after colliding with a TV broadcast truck and about one hundred journos melting in the British heatwave.
Of course, a watched womb never boils, but speculation is more intense than the searing summer sun. Will it be a boy or a girl? Will William be present? What kind of birth will it be? The British press has been rumbling with rumours that the Duchess of Cambridge is considering a hypno-birth to reduce the pain of delivery. According to specialists, hypno-birthing “releases fears and helps the body give birth comfortably in the way it is designed to do.”
What’s that loud noise? Oh, just the cacophonous snorting of millions of mothers laughing ourselves to death. A great conspiracy of silence exists between women about what it’s really like to stretch your birth canal the customary five kilometers. As a mother of two, I feel duty bound to tell Kate not the fiction, but the facts of life.
First of all, forget the bean bags, hypno water births and plinky plonky pipe music. It is Stone Age what happens in that labour ward. It’s completely prehistoric. Lying on that birthing table, adoption starts to look like a very attractive alternative. If you were ever in any doubt about the gender of God, you then know that he’s a bloke.
There is no word for macho for women, but there should be – “femcho” perhaps, as women can be very competitive. When I was pregnant with my first child, there was such pressure on me to give birth naturally: a case of stiff upper labia. I mean, we’ve done drugs all our lives. Why stop now? Having learnt my lesson the hard way – 30 hours of agonizing labour — the only natural thing about my second birth is that I didn’t get time to bikini wax first. So Kate, make sure you have the epidural. Although, as you’ll be in too much pain to ask for one, scrawl the word on your stomach with an arrow pointed to your spine.
My other top tip is to have the man present. My husband kept saying that he didn’t want to be there at the birth – but, hey, I didn’t want to be there either! If he was there when it went in, he should be there when it comes out. But of course, being a bloke, Wills will probably completely take over. When we attended childbirth classes and the midwife asked who was having a natural childbirth, all the men put their hands up. Ironic, really, as most men would need an epidural to get their ingrown toenails cut. “Hypochondria” is surely Greek for man? But do have hubby there, as it’s the one time in your life to get anything you’ve ever, ever wanted.
While you’re panting and crying and Will’s begging “Darling, darling what can I do for you?” New car, new carpet, holiday in the Caribbean – they’re the pregnancy cravings I got.
Other tips: Don’t have the enema because pooing on the obstetrician is the ultimate revenge. And during the episiotomy , ask the doctor to keep on sewing as you won’t want anything coming in or going out of there ever, ever again.
Of course, for Kate Middleton’s labour, ‘crowing’ takes on a very literal meaning. A new survey ranks the Windsor-to-be as the most influential child in the world, beating even Barack Obama’s daughters. This is the most famous foetus on the planet. Whish is why public interest and paparazzi intrusion are so intensive. Kate has the added pain of the world’s press focused on her nether regions and here’s no anesthetic for that. Perhaps she should hook a baby monitor to the media camped outside St Mary’s hospital with a recorded message. “I’m sorry. But the mother you are trying to reach is temporarily disconnected. Please try again after baby has graduated university”.
But there’ll be more pressing problems than the press on Kate’s mind, as birth is a doddle compared to what comes next. Cracked nipples, constipation, mastitis, mountains of haemorrhoids – Edmund Hilary couldn’t scale those mongrels. And, as a mum, you can’t escape. Wills can nip off down the pub for a pint. But you are a 24 hour catering service — Meals on Heels. Then there’s the sleep deprivation and the sex deprivation… Because kids are a contraceptive. Every time you go to make love, the baby wakes up or the toddler toddles in. I do have one very good sex tip for new parents though. Vaseline, on the door knobs. Sounds painful, but they can’t get in! But really, does any new mum want to have sex? No.
A new mother’s favourite position is the doggy position, where he begs and you just roll over and play dead.
So basically Kate, have sex and sleep now, because you never will again. And take every drug on offer… Apart from all that, it’s the happiest day of a woman’s life!
Kathy Lette’s novels about motherhood and childbirth, “Foetal Attraction” and “Mad Cows” are published by Random House.