Overdue and Miserable: Old Wives Get it So Wrong

Patience is a virtue, and it’s one that I don’t have.

So as June 30th – my due date – came and went, I was not only increasingly frustrated, but I was starting to lose my mind.

Not only am I impatient, but I’m also a journalist – deadlines are my thing.

I don’t think I’d have been as bothered had I not been told I was in labour at 36 weeks. Back then, I’d had it on good authority by a medical professional that I’d be meeting my baby within a week at most. So four weeks later, with absolutely no sign of Little Tiny making an appearance, I became frustrated (at best) and irate and irrationally miserable (at worst). In hindsight, it was ridiculous. In Oxford, where I live, you have a compulsory induction at 42 weeks if you still haven’t gone into labour. So there was a ticking time bomb that should have assured me that contrary to how I felt, I would not be pregnant forever.

Yet this gave me very little comfort. Nor did I take comfort from the numerous texts and phone calls from friends, family and the bloody milkman asking whether there was any news. Whilst well intentioned of course, each message served as a reminder that I’d missed my ‘deadline’, and remained  baby-less. The worst thing about this period was that I was totally in limbo. I felt like a bird with clipped wings, unable to travel far “just in case” and thus having completely lost my independence. The only time I take joy from “putting my feet up and watching TV all day” is if I’m suffering an epic hangover, so the whole ‘just relax’ thing didn’t offer me any comfort, and I found myself longing to be back at the office.

In the weeks after finishing work, I could mostly be found eating absurd amounts of pineapple, walking for hours through nearby fields, adding obscene amounts of chili to every meal I cooked, and drinking raspberry leaf tea as if my life depended on it. It turns out the old wives don’t know what they’re talking about. These labour-induction methods are a complete joke. Dan text me from work one day: “Debbie at work says that you should get raspberry yogurt. She went into labour a few hours after eating it with both of her children”. I scoffed, “as if” I responded. Yet, an hour later, there I was, the mug that I am, traipsing into Tesco and buying two large pots of it. I don’t even like the stuff. Of course, it didn’t work. “You can tell Debbie she’s full of crap”, I text Dan. And that’s the PG version of what I sent.

The only ‘old wife’ that hit the nail on the head, was my 82-year-old nan who said to me: “The baby will come when it’s ready, and not a moment before”. Nan is also the one who taught me the ‘patience is a virtue’ saying too. Nans really do know best.

I even voluntarily had needles stuck into my body to try and induce labour, and paid for it too. If that’s not the sign of a mentally unstable pregnant woman, I don’t know what is.

In hindsight, I feel embarrassed that I succumbed to the overdue blues, and totally understand that it will be impossible for anyone who hasn’t been in that situation to empathise. Even now, six weeks later, I find it hard to empathise with myself, the yogurt-eating, chili obsessed maniac.

And then…

On Friday 3rd July, the day that Holly and Ted came home from hospital, my waters broke. I called the hospital and they told me to come in straight away, but certainly within the next six hours, which would take us to midnight. Since we had plans to go to a bbq at our good friends Loveland and Steamo’s house that evening, I decided to aim for the midnight deadline. I’d waited this long after all, we may as well fuel up on a few hot dogs and a big old portion of potato salad ahead of the labour. I decided not to tell anyone that my waters had broken. We’d had one too many false alarms, and I didn’t want to risk this being another.

Never one to miss a party, this was taken at Loveland's bbq, the night my waters broke

Never one to miss a party, this was taken at Loveland’s bbq, the night my waters broke

That evening, we listened to old-school tunes in their garden, we all cuddled Betsy, and we ate hot dogs and ice-cream whilst laughing and laughing. Everyone speculated about when I’d finally go into labour, and at 11:30pm, we made our excuses (a headache, I believe), got in the car, and headed straight to hospital, the hospital bag already packed and in the boot.

We walked into the maternity assessment ward two minutes ahead of my midnight deadline, and this time, I wouldn’t be leaving without my baby.

My mum always told me that ‘the best things in life are worth waiting for’. Maybe she got that pearl of wisdom from my nan too. Either way, she was right. Little Tiny Treacle would be well and truly worth the wait.

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