Jo Davison: No escape from the anxiety of first-time motherhood

Imagine facing this lot just hours after you've given birth. Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire
Imagine facing this lot just hours after you've given birth. Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire
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Ping went the typewriter carriage, ping went something else.

I wasn’t sure what. It felt like an internal elastic band had snapped.

Then... oops. A slight bladder malfunction. I eased myself from my makeshift desk at the coffee table and headed upstairs. No point in mentioning it to the husband engrossed in a movie. A few minutes later, though, I was hollering for him. My waters had broken.

I was two weeks early. We weren’t ready to be parents. We’d only had 38 weeks to prepare. The curtains for the baby’s bedroom weren’t up; I hadn’t bought nappy pins. (I was doing disposables but no matter; they were on the essentials list in my baby book).

We set off for hospital in a panic. It was a freezing cold February night. The husband, terrified the baby might arrive on his watch, decided there only time to defrost a little patch of windscreen about four centimetres in diameter. He drove off in a mad hig, peering through a gap about the size of my dilated cervix. Half a mile later, I decided I didn’t want to die while sitting on two carrier bags with my nether regions swathed in a bath towel and made him pull up and get the can of defroster out of the boot. It would take a few vital seconds, but I’d got my legs crossed.

Oh, the ignorance of first time motherhood. It was another ten hours before our son finally arrived. I could take you through them minute by minute if you’d like... Oh, you wouldn’t. Right.

See, every mother has a birthing story and no matter how long ago it was, she can remember every cough of gas and air. Funnily, and fortuitously, the one thing you can’t remember is the thing you think you will never forget: agony like you’ve never known it before.

Kate won’t have had to worry about the nursery curtains. Or a white-knuckle ride to hospital, terrified Wills at the wheel. Lindo Wing pain management must be so much better than NHS, too. But for sure, she will have felt just as scared as you and I did. Of something going wrong. Of not being able to breastfeed. Of being rubbish at motherhood for the next 50 years.

New mother anxiety. There’s no escaping it, no matter who you are.

At least we could get on with ours in private and our milk-stained dressing gowns without fear of being papped through the letterbox.c