Friday, 5 October 2012

Down to earth with a bump (9) WHAT MATERNAL INSTINCT?


Three things made me question it.
1) The baby shop
I was with a colleague on lunch break when she remarked she wanted to go in to a baby shop to buy a gift for a friend of hers who had just given birth. I trailed in after her in a bit of a daydream only to pick up some of the tiny garments on display. In an instant, the realisation that my bump was not just a bump, hit me. There was in fact a baby in there. A baby that would soon need clothing. Astonishingly, I fled the store.

2) The pregnant woman on the train
Simon and I were travelling back from London together, when we met a good friend we had not seen in ages. Him and his luggage joined us, he took the last seat in a packed train carriage. It was one of those scenarios where you are so pleased to see the other, you end up lost in the moment, forgetting where you are. The fact that we were surrounded by other commuters only dawned on us after a very loud and happy hello.

I think out of everyone in the carriage that evening, it must have been particularly bad for the pregnant woman squashed against the window beside our friend Mark and his many packages. She could do nothing but stare out of the window, subjected to our conversation based on six months of catch-up.

Mark was obviously intrigued by my large belly and asked all manner of frank questions about the pregnancy and looming parenthood. How did I feel about becoming a mother? That one hung mid-air for a moment, ‘til I decided to be as equally frank.
“Honestly, right now I’m not looking forward to it. I think I will be a rubbish mum and I can’t get at all excited about it, I just can’t, no matter how hard I try. In fact the more I think about it, the more I dread it.”

My honesty clearly baffled Mark. The pregnant woman to his right continued to stare out the window. I kept looking her way to see if she reacted to my comment, but she didn’t respond. Probably felt like it wasn’t her place to. Either that, or was so saddened by what she had heard, she couldn’t bring herself to.

The three of us nattered away and pulled in to Guildford in no time at all. It was her stop. She got up and edged around us. As she passed me, she said: “If it is any consolation, I feel entirely the same way.”

Well I never. She had no idea just how much of a consolation it was.

3) A room full of oestrogen – or was it just me?
It was on a routine visit to the midwives clinic when I found myself sat with eight other pregnant women in the waiting room. All various stages and sizes. Two of the women each had a child with them. Another didn’t, but reliably informed us that she had two children at home with her mum. She then reliably informed us on a whole host of other things too. After all, she was on her third pregnancy, which meant she was near enough a midwife herself right?

She did not stop talking. But that wasn’t the problem. It was the biggest load of crap that spewed out of her mouth that was. She went on and on. The thing was, none of the other women were responding to her. They all, like me, seemed rather embarrassed.

When eventually she said, ‘You lot on your first pregnancies need to face facts. You ARE going to gain the weight, so you may as well eat the doughnuts,’ I had to say something. ‘Actually, I don’t agree, you’re obviously less likely to gain the weight if you don’t eat the doughnuts, than if you do (you stupid cow).’

Thankfully, at that moment she was called in to see the midwife and as she left the room a few of the other women smiled at me. And just like that, we all joined ranks and started to chat.

I sat listening to how excited they all were at being pregnant and the thought of having a baby. I didn’t feel like that. They had all been shopping and bought several things for their expected poppet. I had not. I had not bought anything. They all sat rubbing their tummies. I thought how I rarely did. 
Like I said, what maternal instinct?