Push It Real Good

I'll have what ever Beyonce got

I bet Beyonce did’t have to put up with a mouldy bathroom

At around 8 months pregnant after returning from a glorious holiday in Italy, I screamed whilst bathing my 3 year old.  Not because I had seen a humongous spider or my favourite Kiehls Musk shower gel had been emptied into the bath by my 3 year old, nope it was the hideous bathroom I was facing.  You see we had just stayed in the most beautiful hotel in Italy with the most beautiful en suite bathroom and I was now home faced with mould, unspeakable lighting fixtures and generally a bathroom I could not longer live with.  My wonderful husband reluctantly gave it a new lease of life and his now 8 and a half month pregnant wife was once again happy.  He declared it my baby present or push present and I was extremely grateful for his DIY skills.  I could now bathe in a glorious haven and feel like Cleopatra, kind of.

(A month later post birth, my body looked unrecognisable and the last thing I wanted to do was lie in a bath and be faced with wobbly bits.  Showers were the only way forward and my push present didn’t seem quite so appropriate.  But my husband stuck to his guns and said that was my gift so stop moaning, gutted.)

A ‘push present or ‘push gift’ is a term that has developed from America, well let’s face it they love giving something a special name, y’all. The partner gives the present to the mother to mark the occasion of her giving birth to their child.  In practice the present may be given before or after the birth, or even in the delivery room.  But word on the labour ward is that a bunch of roses aint going cut the mustard and us pregnant ladies expect more for giving up alcohol for 9 months.  Here are some stories from fellow Mamas out there.

Rachel from Whenthebabysleeps says “My push present? Well, the day after I had my son I was brought a deliciously strong cappuccino from the hospital cafe ‘to hurry along the poo’ so we could go home. The coffee was delicious, and it worked. The *real* push present came a few days later when my husband handed me a voucher for a massage at a local salon. My response was something like this: “Nobody’s ever touching me ever again, but thanks anyway.”

Alice from MoreThanToast and MAMAUk tells me “When I had my last baby my husband bought me a beautiful tunic top from my friend’s boutique, popthefashionstore She kindly knocked a bit of the price down for him but because he was in such a rush to get to hospital to see me and the new baby he got a parking ticket for stopping on double yellows. So now my lovely push present is one of the most expensive tops I own!”

Gill from ABabyOnBoard had a more traditional present, “My husband really wanted me to have a post-baby birth present (and as he bought himself a new TV when we found out I was pregnant, claiming “it’s the last non-child thing I’ll be able to buy!” it seemed only fair that I had something for actually having the baby!) We both wanted it to be something that was meaningful and symbolic, so after lots of discussion he’s having a ring made for me with three diamonds scattered around the band, one for each member of our little family”.

Has anyone else got an push present story they want to share?  ‘I got a take away cous cous salad from the hospital canteen’ is one wonderful story I have heard, men really have no imagination when left to their own devices.

And with that I leave you with this, go push it, push it real good Mamas you deserve it.

The Perfect Birth?

When I tell people I’m a midwife these are normally the responses I get (guaranteed every time) in no particular order.

  • As in delivering babies?
  • Wow what an amazing job
  • Midwifery, that is one of my favourite words
  • Do all women poo?
  • I had a great midwife
  • I had an awful midwife
  • I had a great birth
  • I had an awful birth
  • Do you want to hear my birth story?
  • Can you check my babies latch?
  • Can you check my episiotomy?
  • I’m pregnant can I eat mayonnaise/dye my hair/paint my living room/ride a bike/have sex?

Ok so the last few are slight exaggerations but the birth story one is a classic. Let me tell you about Monday.

Monday was wet, it rained all day so I went to the only place (other than soft play) guaranteed to be indoors and suitable for a 22 month old, Sainsburys. We wandered around; bought a load of stuff we didn’t really need but ended up in Starbucks. She ate a cheese and Marmite toastie whilst I drank a large Cappuccino. Heavs.

Then a noticed a Mum with a new born sitting close by who was smiling at my daughter. We struck up the usual conversation of ‘isn’t the weather awful, the jet streams are moving North according to the news.’ I congratulated her for getting out of the house with a baby and what a great job she is doing and it does get easier. She then started talking about her birth and before I knew it, my daughter and I were both being taken back 6 weeks to the night when she went into labour.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love a birth story and I think it’s a great way for women to de-brief after quite a big event in their lives. But one thing struck me about this birth story, a theme I notice when listening to a lot of birth stories. The guilt.

She had an epidural; ‘I really didn’t want one but I had been in labour for so long I was exhausted. My NCT teacher said it would lead to more interventions’.

She had a Ventouse delivery; ‘I pushed really hard but I could hardly feel where I was supposed to push’.

She had an episiotomy; ‘The doctor said it was necessary to make room for the baby’s head’.

She found breastfeeding difficult, developed Mastitis and is now mixed feeding ‘I’m only using formula for 2 feeds in the day mainly so my husband can feed the baby’.

And as I sat there listening intently whilst my daughter drank my cold coffee, I couldn’t help but wonder; isn’t the main thing that your baby is gorgeous and thriving and you’ve managed to make it to a coffee shop AND eat chocolate cake?

What is this culture about having a perfect birth? Aren’t women under enough pressure as it is with all the things we should/shouldn’t be doing? And that’s all before the baby is even born.

One of my best friends had a really difficult first birth that resulted in an emergency C-section. When she was pregnant with her second baby she said that she couldn’t go through with that again and chose to have an elective section. She would admit that it was a perfect for her. She bonded with her baby, breast fed with ease and healed much quicker physically and emotionally than she did with her first.

There is no bravery award at the end of it all but your baby is the best award you could ever have. So relish that, don’t beat yourself up because giving birth in reality a whole lot easier than being a Mum. Don’t you agree?