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It was Huxley’s birthday this week, a cake-filled occasion that seems to have prompted a whole host of questions from Elfie, the older child of the family. All of a sudden she’s fascinated with births, birthdays and exactly how babies come to be (though thankfully, not how they’re conceived. Yet).
As we were driving home from the supermarket last weekend she thoughtfully enquired: “mummy, what time of day was I born?”
I panicked a bit.
“Erm…” I said. “About lunchtime, maybe?”
“And what about Huxley?” she continued.
I was sweating at this point.
“Definitely earlier,” I said. “Probably. 10am”.
The next day a friend asked the weights of the children when born, a conversation I haven’t had since they were babies. I confidently reckoned they were both born very similar at around 7lbs 8oz, and happily carried on with my day.
Getting home that evening I thought I really ought to check the times and weights at which the children made their first appearences and, being unable to lay my hand immediately on their red books or birth certificates (they’re kept in ‘a safe place’), I checked my blog. And realised I’d been completely wrong on all counts.
What kind of mother doesn’t know their kids’ weights and birth times?
My mistakes this week harked back to our return from The Alps this year where at Gatwick, for the very first time, I was quizzed about whether or not my children belonged to me: not completely unexpected as we don’t share a surname. As we’d been up since 3am (we arrived in London at lunchtime) and I’d had the pleasure of dealing with both a bus-sick 6 year old plus a manically tired 4 year old, I was completely frazzled. Which is the reason I gave for not being able to remember either the children’s birthdates or places of births when put on the spot by a UK border official. Whoops.
Miraculously the officer let me keep the children, but these events left me wondering why I am so unable to remember such pertinent information about my kids. Why do I constantly get my daughters date of birth mixed up with my own (granted, they’re both in July), and why don’t I remember what times they were born?
Some of the answers came to me as I was sitting, borderline shell-shocked, as a massive group of rampaging four and five year olds masquerading as a birthday party left my house this week.
I was thinking about the fact that five years to the day had passed since I gave birth to Hux, and how strange it was that despite on 16th May 2012 I was split hip-to-hip and jiggled around with from the inside out, nobody celebrates the ordeal I went through to bring my gorgeous boy into the world. All he did was act stubborn enough to leave me in labour for days on end, thus prompting a c-section and saving himself a boring trip down my birth canal. Where was my ‘well done for making it through the trauma of birth’ party?
It makes sense when you think about it factually.
When you’re pregnant, the 9 month process you go through mostly focusses on your vagina and internal lady organs: plus your bum if, like me, you’re really lucky and are blessed with a touch of the old piles.
Then baby is born – more vagina – and once he or she is in the world the attention is then diverted to your nipples.
These are all areas of your body that one is historically advised to keep hidden and private: all of a sudden they’re public property, open to any medical professional and let’s be honest, many non-medically trained people too. How may postmen have had a quick flash of a breastfeeding mother’s nipple? I know mine certainly did more than once.
We go from being told to cover up at all opportunities to expected to bare all to the world – a stitched up fanny, a bit of the large intestine popping out to say hello, a nipple as cracked and dry as the Sahara. The day of birth is quite an ordeal to put ourselves through: no wonder we don’t want to remember the date of that one time a man we’d never met split us from front to back bottom with a pair of scissors while a host of trainee doctors looked on.
At least, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. Yes, I had the absolute pleasure of my children entering the world on their birthdays but I also would quite like to block out the sensation of someone doing the washing up in my tummy before a friendly nurse popped a tablet up my bum without me even realising. Whoever’s going around citing birth as a magical experience has obviously never self-injected blood thinners in their own bottom morning and night for six weeks post-caesarian.
There is one exception to this, though. For some reason I know exactly which songs were number one in the charts when both my kids were born: for Elfie it was Katy Perry’s California Gurls and Hux Rita Ora/Tinie Tempah’s RIP. Don’t ever tell me I’m not good at retaining useless information, OK?
So, what about you? Do you remember when/where/at what weight your kids were born? Or do I need to take myself off to the gin-swilling frozen fish finger-feeding slummy mummies club?