Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Beards, Berets & Small Stools

When I was pregnant for the first time with the now 4 year old I bought a book by Dr Miriam Stoppard. I found the book both useful and amusing. It had a lovely up to date cover, but it’s innards were of the 1970’s. The men in the photos sported bushy beards, polo necks and flares, the women didn’t fare much better, they were all naked and giving the men a run for their money in their downstairs beard department. It was apparently the ‘updated’ version in everything but photographs. Not a Brazilian in sight.

In first pregnancy enthusiasm I read the book cover to cover. When I had finished 2 things stuck out.

The first was pregnancy fashion. I’ve always found pregnancy fashion bemusing, although it does seem to have improved over the years. Wearing a smock has moved on to wearing a trendy smock. Dr Miriam suggested that comfortable clothes were always a necessity – feeling like I had eaten an elephant I couldn’t agree more. At one point the book discussed taking attention away from your bump by wearing a beret at a jaunty angle. Now I would have said that anyone who wears a beret (jaunty angle or not) is going to bring attention to the beret and only the beret. Remember Lucinda Ledgerwood from The Apprentice? She was talked about for weeks as ‘the one with the beret’. I did not wear a beret.

The second thing which made alarm bells ring in my head was the sentence ‘when you are giving birth you may pass a small stool’. It was enough that I would be legs akimbo in front of a complete stranger, albeit a trained midwife, but then to open my bowels? It was not on my agenda. All dignity would then be on the bus to ‘Nevertobeseenagain’.

I was utterly obsessed with passing a small stool, it was more terrifying than the birth itself. I considered fasting for the final month of pregnancy just in case but the need to eat my bodyweight in cake each week was far greater than my fear.

So, when 8 months pregnant I went to the Baby Show at the NEC with my dear friend Mary I was delighted to discover a Dr Miriam Stoppard stand. Mary was also pregnant so I felt I had to share with her the full horror of crapping without control during birth. The stand was manned by a couple of very smiley ladies and was festooned with pictures of Dr Miriam herself all big hair and cheesy grins. I found the book and showed my friend the beret tip. We laughed. I then brought to her attention the small stool extract which I read aloud in mock horror. ‘Miriam says you may pass a small stool’, we fell apart.

Wiping my tears I turned around to find Dr Miriam herself stood behind me talking to another ‘customer’ with what can only be described as a disapproving look on her not so smiley anymore face … and big hair. We left swiftly.

I discovered a few months later that if I were to have passed a small stool I would not have noticed nor cared and that I would have happily worn a beret during birth if it had detracted from the pain and my nether regions.

Perhaps if I’d had a beret and a small stool combination I could have caught the latter in the former and no one would have noticed!

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