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View as: GRID LIST

WHAT IS A GOOD MUM?

1
Ten days ago I was in hospital waiting for contractions to start with my second child. The family in the next cubicle were happily eating their lunch out of Tupperwares. Every ten minutes an ambulance with flashing blue lights would fly past. At three in the morning, after the nurse had checked my blood pressure and monitored the baby’s heart rate for the upteenth time, I fell asleep.

The dream started immediately. I was at the back of a long line of women. A nurse holding a clipboard stood at the front. We were a variety of ages and sizes and had a

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range of expressions from bored  to downright terrified. Some of us wore hospital gowns and others were in everyday clothes.

’Do you know what’s happening?’ the woman in front of me said.

’I thought I was in hospital,’ I replied.

’We’ve died,’ the woman said.

’Are you sure?’

The woman nodded.

’This is the queue for heaven,’ she said.

I tried to think through whether I would get in. I lost my temper. I’d sometimes use a wet flannel to get a stain off my daughter’s uniform because I was too lazy to wash it. I swore

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everyday. We moved slowly. The majority of women disappeared into a large, white door with a bright yellow door knob. One or two didn’t – they seemed to evaporate in a puff of smoke (where to? Purgatory? Hell?)

’Name?’ the nurse asked as I reached the front.

My body trembled. Maybe I wasn’t good. What about that time I’d failed to strap my daughter into the buggy, and she’d fallen out as I pushed her up the steps to our house? Or the night I’d wedged tissue in my ears because I couldn’t stand the sound of her cries anymore?

’Anniki,’ I

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replied.

’Right Anniki I have a series of questions,’ the nurse said sternly, ’These questions will determine whether you get into heaven.’

I took a deep breath.

’Did you have a natural birth with no pain relief?” she asked reading from her board.

I’d wanted a natural birth but it hadn’t been possible.

’I had to ask for an epidural. I was planning on no pain relief this time- does that count?’

’NOT A NATURAL BIRTH,’ she scrawled on her pad

’What about breastfeeding? How long? You get extra points if you keep going for a

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year you see.’

’I think it was three months. I had scabs on my nipples so had to wrap it up more quickly than I’d liked.’

’DIDN’T BREASTFEED FOR REQUIRED AMOUNT OF TIME,’ the nurse wrote down.

’And you went back to work?’

’Yes but I was made redundant and had to go freelance.’

’That’s half a point lost,’ the nurse said frowning, ’You put work before your baby. You’re getting on a bit aren’t you? You’re in your forties aren’t you?’

’ I wanted a career and then it took me ages to get pregnant.’

’And what about

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regular playdates?’

’Rarely do them. Kids make a mess of the house and they never leave when you’ve had enough.’

’I want to do the survey,’ the woman behind me groaned, ’I’m getting pins and needles. Is she good?’

’NO ENTRY,’ the nurse said looking me up and down, ’You’ll have to go back down.’

’But I would probably do all the same things,’ I said.

’BAD NEWS FOR A BAD MUM,’ the woman behind said, ’Can I point out that I’m great at baking?’

’Shut up,’ I replied.

The nurse disappeared. I could feel the

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contractions. The nurse re-appeared.

’You’re lucky. You’re getting another go.’

I felt a surge of adrenalin. More contractions. Very close now. I reached for my partner’s hand.

’It’s coming. I can feel it,’ I shouted.

He ran into the corridor and two midwives returned with a wheelchair. I was pushed into the labour ward at breakneck speed. After twenty minutes, in room 204 I gave birth to my daughter. She squirmed as they put her on my chest. She was purple and covered in sticky, white mucus. She was perfect. I was alive. It was easy

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to lose sight of that. The dream was deeply flawed. The smell of our blood was heady. She looked up, her eyes inky black.

’I love you more than all the fish in the sea,’ I said, ’And I swear quite a lot and probably won’t be able to breastfeed.’ 

She continued to stare up at me.

I was very lucky indeed.

 

 

 

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Anniki Sommerville

By

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- 31 Dec 18

Ten days ago I was in hospital waiting for contractions to start with my second child. The family in the next cubicle were happily eating their lunch out of Tupperwares. Every ten minutes an ambulance with flashing blue lights would fly past. At three in the morning, after the nurse had checked my blood pressure and monitored the baby’s heart rate for the upteenth time, I fell asleep.

The dream started immediately. I was at the back of a long line of women. A nurse holding a clipboard stood at the front. We were a variety of ages and sizes and had a range of expressions from bored  to downright terrified. Some of us wore hospital gowns and others were in everyday clothes.

‘Do you know what’s happening?’ the woman in front of me said.

‘I thought I was in hospital,’ I replied.

‘We’ve died,’ the woman said.

‘Are you sure?’

The woman nodded.

‘This is the queue for heaven,’ she said.

I tried to think through whether I would get in. I lost my temper. I’d sometimes use a wet flannel to get a stain off my daughter’s uniform because I was too lazy to wash it. I swore everyday. We moved slowly. The majority of women disappeared into a large, white door with a bright yellow door knob. One or two didn’t – they seemed to evaporate in a puff of smoke (where to? Purgatory? Hell?)

‘Name?’ the nurse asked as I reached the front.

My body trembled. Maybe I wasn’t good. What about that time I’d failed to strap my daughter into the buggy, and she’d fallen out as I pushed her up the steps to our house? Or the night I’d wedged tissue in my ears because I couldn’t stand the sound of her cries anymore?

‘Anniki,‘ I replied.

‘Right Anniki I have a series of questions,’ the nurse said sternly, ‘These questions will determine whether you get into heaven.’

I took a deep breath.

Did you have a natural birth with no pain relief?” she asked reading from her board.

I’d wanted a natural birth but it hadn’t been possible.

I had to ask for an epidural. I was planning on no pain relief this time- does that count?’

‘NOT A NATURAL BIRTH,’ she scrawled on her pad

‘What about breastfeeding? How long? You get extra points if you keep going for a year you see.’

I think it was three months. I had scabs on my nipples so had to wrap it up more quickly than I’d liked.’

‘DIDN’T BREASTFEED FOR REQUIRED AMOUNT OF TIME,’ the nurse wrote down.

‘And you went back to work?’

‘Yes but I was made redundant and had to go freelance.’

‘That’s half a point lost,’ the nurse said frowning, ‘You put work before your baby. You’re getting on a bit aren’t you? You’re in your forties aren’t you?’

‘ I wanted a career and then it took me ages to get pregnant.’

‘And what about regular playdates?’

‘Rarely do them. Kids make a mess of the house and they never leave when you’ve had enough.’

‘I want to do the survey,’ the woman behind me groaned, ‘I’m getting pins and needles. Is she good?’

‘NO ENTRY,’ the nurse said looking me up and down, ‘You’ll have to go back down.’

‘But I would probably do all the same things,’ I said.

‘BAD NEWS FOR A BAD MUM,’ the woman behind said, ‘Can I point out that I’m great at baking?’

‘Shut up,’ I replied.

The nurse disappeared. I could feel the contractions. The nurse re-appeared.

‘You’re lucky. You’re getting another go.’

I felt a surge of adrenalin. More contractions. Very close now. I reached for my partner’s hand.

‘It’s coming. I can feel it,’ I shouted.

He ran into the corridor and two midwives returned with a wheelchair. I was pushed into the labour ward at breakneck speed. After twenty minutes, in room 204 I gave birth to my daughter. She squirmed as they put her on my chest. She was purple and covered in sticky, white mucus. She was perfect. I was alive. It was easy to lose sight of that. The dream was deeply flawed. The smell of our blood was heady. She looked up, her eyes inky black.

‘I love you more than all the fish in the sea,’ I said, ‘And I swear quite a lot and probably won’t be able to breastfeed.’ 

She continued to stare up at me.

I was very lucky indeed.

 

 

 

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Anniki Sommerville

I'm Super Editor here at SelfishMother.com and love reading all your fantastic posts and mulling over all the complexities of modern parenting. We have a fantastic and supportive community of writers here and I've learnt just how transformative and therapeutic writing can me. If you've had a bad day then write about it. If you've had a good day- do the same! You'll feel better just airing your thoughts and realising that no one has a master plan. I'm Mum to a daughter who's 3 and my passions are writing, reading and doing yoga (I love saying that but to be honest I'm no yogi).

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