A Guest in Provence – talking about having a baby in Spain

Oh Sam, the memory of the contractions quite makes my eyes water

Isn’t it true that when you put two mothers together, at some point, maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and then ad finitum they will end up talking about childbirth? I had such a conversation with a friend, who I have known since the summer, this weekend when we went out for Sunday lunch with our two kids and the daddies – Mr B and Mr E.

We had a rare few minutes alone sitting in the sun outside a cafe while the boys were wrangling the kids inside, where they had been drawn, like sticky little moths, to the rather pretty Christmas tree. I say rare, because anyone who has kids, and likes to socialise with friends outside the home, will know that it is a rare and precious moment when any two adults are actually sitting down and focussing on one conversation together.

It is much more likely that one parent is marking the gate/door leading to the street and road traffic tragedy, another is carrying a squealing child off to the loo where they will perform the magic trick of changing a poo-filled nappy on their lap (my friend is the queen of this), and at least one of these parents is trying to get the attention of the waiting staff who are not bringing the drinks fast enough (and god knows you need to drink quick and take full advantage if you are not driving). Yet another poor soul could well just be staring into space having given up all hope of adult conversation, pissed or sober, and the chance of sitting down long enough to eat a meal from start to finish. This is not to mention all the games and toys that need to be drawn, like a rabbit from a top hat, from the handbag of one mummy or another to buy precious minutes of eating/drinking/talking time.

Google image search: pain of childbirth. Result: picture of woman slightly exasperated that husband hasn’t taken the rubbish out

Anyway, in this rare moment, we chatted about our experiences of giving birth in Spain and were agreed that nothing NOTHING can prepare you the first time round for the pain: not books, not ante-natal classes, not the wise words of friends and family. Nothing. Because there really is nothing like it. It seems to be how you handle the pain and what is going on around you – how you are being handled in fact – that makes all the difference. And all of that depends on how you have prepared for the event and then how your plans and preparation are met by the medical professionals that you encounter on the day. I am talking about hospital births here of course.

For women who have given birth it seems that it is quite endlessly fascinating to learn about other women’s experiences. But I think more than that, these conversations are about telling our stories. We all need to tell our stories. So often people will tell a mother after she has given birth not to dwell on the painful details. Why? Is it considered healthy these days to lock down painful experiences? I don’t think so.

So, now I should rush to the end, and to the point, of my post before I get all stabby and ranty. I was very pleased to be asked by the gorgeous Mummy in Provence to  share my story of childbirth and motherhood in Spain as part of a series about the Global Differences in Baby making. Please do go and check out this site where women from all over the world share their experiences of pregnancy, childbirth and parenting.

Thank you Ameena @MummyinProvence for the opportunity for us all to share our stories.