Childbirth - in like a banana, out like a pineapple!
Wouldn't it be great if this was the case?
In like a banana and out like a pineapple
“Granny! Auntie Daf!” Fenella called out again. The blood was
a steady trickle dripping into the toilet bowl.
Her Granny and Auntie Daf hurried to the toilet, and both
crowded around Fenella in the tiny room, with Fenella sitting like
a queen on her throne with her legs open, so the two older women
could peer between her legs into the toilet.
“The mucous plug has come out!” exclaimed Auntie Daf. “Her
waters have broken!”
“Have you got any pain?” Granny asked with concern.
“Nothing! I feel nothing!” Now that the moment had obviously
come to hatch out this thing, Fenella was terrified. Omigod, donʼt
let me give birth over the toilet, she thought hysterically.
“Breathe, breathe, keep calm,” said Granny as Fenella started to
hyperventilate. “Daf, run a bath for Fenella. Patrick, check on those
fishcakes I was cooking, I can smell something burning,” Granny
ordered, taking control of the situation. “The time has come, Fenella.
You have to be brave. It might go in like a banana, but it is going to
come out like a very prickly large pineapple,” warned Granny with
a knowing smile.
Fenella felt a lot more relaxed as she lay in the deep bath that
her aunt had run for her. She could make out the babyʼs foot as
it moved across her stomach. The baby always kicked like crazy
whenever Fenella had a bath. Time, my baby, soon Iʼll be holding
you in my arms. Her grandmother and aunt came into the bathroom
to help her to lift her ungainly body out of the bath, and to get her
dressed, ready for her next adventure. Thatʼs what Fenellaʼs Granny
had called it, an adventure and sheʼd tried to prepare Fenella for the
whole birth process. At least I wonʼt think that the dark line from
my belly button was the zip that was going to open and the baby
was going to come out of that. Fenella smiled as she thought of her
granny telling her the story of her first pregnancy, all those years
ago. Dressed, Fenella went into the kitchen and insisted on eating
the burnt fishcakes that her Granny had made for her. Meanwhile,
Uncle Patrick was getting black plastic garbage bags out of the
“What are you doing with those?” Fenella asked Uncle Patrick,
munching on a fishcake that had one side burnt to a cinder.
Uncle Patrick looked very nervous, and his jaws were working
overtime chewing toffees. “For my car seats,” he said with a look of
fear in his eyes, “For my car seats,” he repeated, “Canʼt have a mess
on my seats.” He reached into his pocket and removed another toffee
which he proceeded to unwrap, swearing loudly as he couldnʼt get
the wrapper off.
“Daf!” called Granny, as Auntie Daf came in carrying Fenellaʼs
hospital bag that had been packed in anticipation several weeks
previously. “I think youʼd better drive us to the maternity hospital.
The only mess here,” she said looking at Uncle Patrick with a frown,
“is Patrick. Look at him.” Uncle Patrick was fumbling around
nervously with another toffee, trying to get the wrapper off. It was
clear that Fenellaʼs onset of labour had reduced easy-going loveable
Uncle Patrick into a complete and utter nervous wreck.
“Iʼm afraid ladies, youʼll have to go now,” said the plump
midwife with badly dyed blonde hair brandishing an enema bottle
that she was going to use on Fenella.
“But, I want to stay as her support person?” asked Granny with
a worried tone. She could see the fear in Fenellaʼs eyes. She had tried
to protect Fenella all her life, stepping in more than once to diffuse
situations with evil stepfathers. Fenellaʼs mother had been married
three times, and both stepfathers hadnʼt always played fair with the
little girl with blonde hair and huge hazel eyes.
“Madam, I wish I could let you stay, but rules are rules, and
only husbands can stay.”
Fenella felt tears well in her eyes. She had never been so scared
in all her life. “When are they going to stop punishing me for falling
pregnant and unmarried?”
“Please,” begged Fenellaʼs Granny, “Please canʼt you make an
The midwife shook her head, “Sheʼll be fine. Millions of people
have had babies before and survived.” Fenella forgot her fear for a
moment and glared at the midwife. Now the bloody woman was
trying to make jokes. “Besides, weʼre here for her all night.”
The midwife smiled reassuringly at Fenella. Granny and Auntie Daf each gave Fenella a long hug goodbye, kissed her on the cheek andwished her luck. Then they were gone.
“Oh God, please help me to get through this,” prayed Fenella
as the nurse administered the enema.
The midwife had lied. Fenella was left alone with nobody by
her side. On the hour, a random midwife would pop in to check
the foetal heart monitor strapped around Fenellaʼs huge belly. No
books to read, nobody to talk to. There was no possible way she
could sleep. Not only was she too scared, but the dull pains in
her back were making her uncomfortable. Apparently, those were
the contractions starting, the last midwife had informed her when
Fenella had described them. Alone with her thoughts, Fenella tried
to imagine what the baby was going to look like. A few weeks ago
she had had several really bad nightmares about giving birth to a
baby who came out looking like ET. That was after her Granny had
taken her to see ET at the movies.
The pains were getting a little worse and Fenella moved around
in the narrow hospital bed to try to get comfortable. In moving
around, Fenella must have somehow dislodged the foetal heart
monitor, and it started to make a loud beeping noise. Then, she heard
a series of loud screams coming from another one of the delivery
rooms. Fenella thought it sounded like some poor woman was being
raped by ten men at once. Fenella was so scared, she thought she
was going to vomit, and vomit she did. All over the floor, the white
hospital sheets and the belt of the foetal heart monitor. Fenella tried
to reach the bell on the wall behind her to call the midwife to come
to her assistance, but despite her best efforts, it remained just out of
her reach. Forced to lie in her own vomit and wait for a midwifeʼs
hourly visit, with the steady beep telling her there was no babyʼs
heartbeat being measured, Fenella wondered if this was going to
be the low point of her life. Could things ever be worse than this?
Then, amidst her fear, Fenella realised that her contractions had
“Oh dear! What do we have here?” A middle-aged midwife
entered the room. Fenella tried to speak, but hyperventilating for
the past half hour had made her throat sore and her head dizzy. Her
pillow was wet with the tears that still ran down her cheeks. She
didnʼt have to talk. Fenellaʼs expressive eyes betrayed all the anguish
she felt, and all the horrors of being left alone at this time of her
“First, we need to calm down a little, donʼt we?” The nurse told
Fenella kindly. The midwife helped Fenella to the edge of the bed,
so she could sit up and attempt to put her head between her legs,
which was rather difficult with the big belly in the way. “Okay, letʼs
clean you up and put on some fresh sheets. Howʼs the pain? Are the
contractions coming any faster?”
Fenella was taking deep breaths as she removed the soiled
hospital gown. “Nothing. Thereʼs nothing. I have no pain and no
contractions. I think my babyʼs dead,” she added with a sob.
The middle-aged nurse looked up quickly from what she was
doing. “What do you mean, the contractions stopped? Your chart
outside said that you were quite progressed in labour.” The midwife
shook her head in disbelief.
Fenella started to cry, “Nothing. Thereʼs nothing I tell you.
That woman down the passage screamed and then my contractions
The midwife walked over to Fenella and put her hand on Fenellaʼs
stomach. “Let me get this right. When that woman screamed, your
labour just stopped?” Fenella nodded her head, still sobbing. “Well I
never! She scared the contractions out of you, eh?” The midwife gave
a chuckle. “Letʼs take a peek at whatʼs happening, get that foetal
heart monitor working again so that you can hear your baby, and if
need be, weʼll induce you back into labour. How does that sound?”
Fenella smiled gratefully as the nurse fussed around her. “Oh, and
before I do anything else and perhaps forget, your Mom called and
is thinking of you.”
Blow me down with a feather, thought Fenella. It couldnʼt be
her Mom, it just couldnʼt. She hadnʼt heard from her mother since
that fateful day outside the unmarried mothersʼ home. Her family
had never mentioned her mother to her, save to say right at the
beginning of the whole debacle, that they were ashamed at what
her mother had done to her. “Are you sure it was my Mom who
phoned?” Fenella asked in a timid voice.
“Yes, no doubt about it. It was your mother all right. Spoke to
her myself. She said your aunt had phoned her and told her you were
in labour. Sheʼs very concerned about you, you know.” The nurse said
matter-of-factly. “Actually, sheʼs been phoning all night for updates
on how youʼre doing.”
The fact that her mother was up all night with her, and going through the labour with her, albeit over the telephone through the updates, took away a lot of Fenellaʼs fear. She wasnʼt alone; her mother was up keeping vigil. I can do this, Fenella thought.
As another wave of pain hit her, Fenella could hear the sound of
the rain against the window pain. “I need to push! I need to push!”
she shouted out to the two midwives who were now in constant
attendance. Thank God nobody was leaving her alone now to deliver
The shorter midwife adjusted Fenellaʼs feet in the stirrups that
were there to help keep her legs in the air. “Okay,” instructed Shorty.
“Wait until we tell you to push. Donʼt push unless we say, okay?”
Shorty looked at Fenella, “I can already see the head!”
Fenella didnʼt care whether or not anybody could see the ruddy
head. All she wanted was for the damn thing to be out and the pain
to stop. Earlier on, when the pain had first started to get intense,
theyʼd taken away the happy gas, accusing Fenella of abusing it.
How the hell does one abuse happy gas? Fenella tried to hold onto
the mask, sucking deeply on the gas, but theyʼd wrenched it out of
“Okay, poooooooosh!” shouted the tall thin midwife. Fenella
dipped her head onto her chest and pushed as hard as she could,
straining the muscles in her face and her throat.
“Stop!” ordered the short midwife. “Okay, when the next
contraction comes, you push hard, harder than youʼve pushed before.”
Fenella gave an almighty push and whatever the enema had missed
out on came out, stinking up the whole room. The baby seemed to
be stuck inside.
“I think the baby is coming out of the wrong hole,” suggested
Fenella, panting from the effort of the last push, “It feels like itʼs
coming out the back end!” She geared up to push as another wave
of pain engulfed her.
The short nurse hurriedly cleaned up the poo, while the tall,
skinny midwife guided Fenella. “Donʼt worry, happens all the time.
It just feels as if itʼs coming out the back end,” said Skinny laughing
at Fenellaʼs ignorance.
The whole pushing part had been going on already for 45
minutes. Trust the books to all lie and say that the pushing part
should only be about 15-20 minutes in a first baby, Fenella thought,
as she lay gasping for breath on the bed. She felt so tired. Shorty
and Skinny, her two midwives assisting her with her labour, were
conferring in hushed voices at the edge of the bed where her feet
were suspended in the stirrups. “Is there a problem?” Fenella asked
“Um, the baby seems to be stuck. Your passage is quite narrow
and the babyʼs heart is weakening. Weʼre going to get the doctor to
bring the forceps to help deliver the baby for you.”
Forceps! Fenellaʼs eyes widened as she saw the doctor enter the
room and lift up the huge forceps. There was no way she wanted
forceps to be used on her! And with one large huge effort, Fenella
gave an enormous push that dislodged the baby, shooting the bloodcovered
infant out in one move. All the midwife had to do was catch
it as it slithered out. No forceps, no crown the head and ease out
the shoulders, thought Fenella with relief, just get the whole damn
thing out in one shot.
The baby made a small mewing sound like a kitten, before
letting out a bloodcurdling yell. The midwife cleaned off most of
the blood and wrapped the baby in a blanket and passed it to Fenella
whose chest was dripping wet with colustrum. Sheʼd been shooting
out colostrum in spurts with each push. “Congratulations, you have
a beautiful little girl.”
Fenella looked at the little blotched face with a nose and eyes
that looked as if it had been in a recent world title boxing match.
“Why is she a purply grey?”
“Thatʼs because she was in a little distress, but you did a good
job and her colour will come right.” The nurse started to stitch up
where Fenella had torn in the birth process. “Youʼre going to look
like you have railway tracks down there,” Skinny warned. Fenella
didnʼt care and was unaware of what the nurse was still doing to her.
She only had eyes for her beautiful baby girl.
extract from my book, Stop the World, I need to pee!
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