How to make a baby – part one
Being a parent is an absolutely amazing thing. It’s simultaneously wonderful and terrifying, energizing and exhausting, and in my own personal experience has made me generally a better, calmer and all-round nicer person.
Giving birth to your own baby is also amazing and terrifying. Because it’s so other-worldly weird, painful and in my experience, hallucinogenic, I quite like recalling it, not least because the experience is mercifully well in the past.
Before recalling a bit of it though, I’d like to make the following statement, as is my self-appointed right.
If you are a man, you must wake up, every day, swing your legs out of bed and thank God/Allah/Darwin/Mother nature with grateful sincerity that YOU ARE MAN. I will try my best not to sound like a more abrasive version of Germaine Greer as I explain this.
In order for us to make you a baby in the first place, we have to make you an egg. No problem, we’ve been making and throwing away eggs since we hit puberty. We chuck one away on average once per month. It hurts and makes us eat a lot and moan a bit.
You come along and put your man part in.
Man part and egg form to make something that looks like a curly prawn. Over time, the prawn will develop into a fetus. During this time, 40 weeks to be exact, we might experience any number of the following: sore feet, sore hands, sore back, sore muscles, sore boobs headaches, lack of sleep, terminal exhaustion, dizziness, moaning.
Men too will experience a side effect; the sore head-from pretending to listen to descriptions of the above.
As 40 weeks approaches, and then usually passes, we wait in anguish and pain for the crescendo to the whole affair- the release of the prawn fetus. We sit at home, shifting about, trying to get comfortable, playing scrabble, waiting for things to start moving, noticing every twinge, feeling nervous and excited and terrified. We eat curries and pineapples and drink raspberry leaf tea and go for walks and jump up and down and, as a last resort, in desperation, we agree to do the one thing you’ve read about and know for a fact can induce labor and that selflessly, you’re happy to try.
Finally, the moment arrives and you jump into action, running out to the car in excitement, revving the engine enthusiastically and shouting at us to hurry up as we waddle through the house, carrying our own overnight bag, turning off lights, closing the freezer door and leaving food out for the cat.
We arrive at hospital and realise that we’ve forgotten sanitary towels. We ask you to go to the shop and get us some ‘with wings’. You rush out and come back with regular tampons.
Finally the moment comes. In a cloud of agony, as contractions rip through our bodies like red hot lashings that have no place outside of ancient Rome, as we grab hold of the railings at either side of our hospital bed and hold on tight and pray hard to God/Allah/Darwin/that evil cow mother nature for it to end, you offer us a swig of your Lucozade and go outside the room to make a call about meeting in the pub in roughly 20 minutes to arrange a head wetting session.
And then it’s over. But it’s not over, because immediately after the birth, and following two hours sleep over a 48 hour period, we are expected to master breastfeeding. Considering the severity of the shade of ginger our new offspring’s hair is, we attempt latching on, several times, and fail. Downtrodden and knackered, we are wheeled back to the ward where we are expected to try to sleep among the screams of newborns. You pop to the shop for a sausage roll and the Sun, and then go home for nine hours straight and uninterrupted sleep.
I would like to think that, in another universe, there is some tweaking to the above and that the responsibilities are shared. Perhaps in alien life, women make the egg and then men incubate it. Then perhaps the release of the egg can be the job of either partner.
‘You gave birth last time love, I’ve got this one’
‘That’s very kind of you, male alien. I’ll just pop out and get you some sanitary towels. Then we can decide who’s going to breastfeed’.