The following is something I wrote when I was considering ghostwriting someone’s autobiography about their failed pregnancy. Despite the sombre nature of the events, they wanted a ‘Bridget Jones‘ feel to it. I wrote this to see how easily it would flow. The answer is not well at all, but I think it’s okay.
To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t looking forward to pregnancy. Aside from growing to the size of Sweden and losing the ability to walk more than ten yards without stopping for a breather, it’s a scientific fact that pregnant women don’t just develop babies in their wombs, but hand magnets as well. I’m not one of those people who has a thing about being touched, you understand – conception’s rather more difficult if you do – but why whenever people see a pregnant friend, or even someone they barely know, do they feel like they’ve got a sudden and irrefutable right to engage in the middle class equivalent of happy slapping? We don’t rustle someone’s hair after they’ve just spent £140 at Mark Scott or stamp on their toes when they’ve taken out a second mortgage for a pair of Manolos, so why do we lurch for the gut whenever we see a kangaroo impression?
‘I felt him kick!’ they gleefully explain time and again, largely oblivious to the fact that the thing he’s kicking is me and it bloody hurts. Small wonder that violent crimes are up these days when you think about it. Even before they’re born we’re teaching the next generation that violence results in warmth and affection. If we kept this behaviour up when the little buggers came out we’d be buying them PlayStations for matricide.
And don’t get me started on childbirth. I wasn’t raised by Hollywood; I know what it involves and the thought of sweating, crying, pissing and shitting in front of a room of people I don’t know and probably wouldn’t like doesn’t really appeal to me. In fact it’s probably fair to say I’d rather spend twelve hours locked in academic debate concerning the geopolitical ramifications of The Jeremy Kyle Show being exported to Israel. All whilst sober of course. Can’t drink whilst pregnant because you’ll give birth to Johnny Vegas. Can’t smoke because your baby will come out smelling like an 80’s East London cab office. Can’t use a microwave because they’re more harmful to foetuses than gun shots, can’t stroke cats because the kid’ll get furballs, and can’t drink coffee in case your offspring turns out like Woody Allen. Can’t get herpes either. I swear to God one of the online guides I read for newly pregnant mothers instructed me not to get herpes. As if that was something I did for kicks every other Thursday anyway.
This is all to say nothing of after the pregnancy. ‘You’ll never care for anything in your life the same way again,’ I was told. Excuse me? I like caring about the things I care about. I don’t want to lose interest in them. I also don’t want to be broke. The only thing more expensive than raising a child for eighteen years is being sued by them when their therapist decides they had a traumatic childhood and it’s because you didn’t hug them enough. Or it’s because you hugged them too much. Finding the middle ground in order to avoid litigation these days is like trying to describe a black co-worker without mentioning their skin colour in case you come off as racist.
And I never really believed these women who said they’d never been happier. I suppose it might be true but they all looked exhausted to me. We might all have read about the City Supermums who balance commanding globalisation with being home in time to cook the fish fingers to perfection, and I’ll admit to hating Catherine Zeta Jones a little bit for apparently looking perfect only five hours after her vulva was doing its Vesuvius but normal women aren’t like that. Normal women have stretch marks, bags under their eyes, sleepless nights, all too regular trips to mothercare, judgmental doctors (how did she get that bruise again?), no social life, no sex life! Who in the world looks forward to all of that? Apart from Mel Gibson’s wife, obviously. Being pregnant looked like the uncomfortable start to an unhappy existence.