Monday 2nd February
233 days to appreciate my freedom
Headed back to Great Oakley for my first antenatal appointment today.
Registering for a GP in London is a nightmare, so I’m still with my childhood GP, Dr Slaughter, and his team at the Dalton Road Surgery.
I quite like the old village medical centre, with its fish tank and brown-plastic chairs. It’s cosy, and I almost always bump into old school friends.
Dr Slaughter was loudly discussing a patient’s rectal examination results with the receptionist when I arrived. He was dressed in his usual dapper pin-striped suit, white hair oiled and gleaming.
‘Juliette Duffy!’ he boomed, giving me a delighted smile. ‘How’s London treating you?’
‘It’s okay,’ I said. ‘I love coming home, though.’
‘If you see your mother, tell her that diabetics shouldn’t buy 2-litre tubs of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream,’ said Dr Slaughter, wagging a finger. ‘The lady in the Co-op tells me everything.’
Dr Slaughter doesn’t hold with patient confidentiality, believing that our western privacy ideals are a large cause of sickness.
‘Mum is a law unto herself,’ I said. ‘No one can make her do anything she doesn’t want to.’
Dr Slaughter raised a white eyebrow. ‘We live in hope. Anyway, the receptionist tells me you’re here to see the midwife. So I suppose congratulations are in order. Unless you’re still with that Nicholas Spencer character.’
Mumbled, ‘Yes … erm, I am still with Nick. He’s sort of the baby’s father.’
Dr Slaughter patted me on the back. ‘Never mind. Maybe you did the pregnancy test wrong like your younger sister. Were you drunk when you took it?’
Just because my little sister Brandi took her pregnancy test whilst intoxicated, and peed on the wrong end, doesn’t mean I’d do the same thing.
Dr Slaughter was called away then to see a patient, and I was called in to see the midwife.
Crossed my fingers that I’d get the good one.
There are two midwives in the village:
Smiley, clog-dancing Caz Brewer, who plays violin in a folk band and drinks in my parents’ pub.
And stern, matronly Eileen Bolin, who is suspected of prescription drugging cats that wander into her stinging-nettle covered garden.
Luckily, I got Caz.
Although sometimes my parent’s pub shows professionals in a very unprofessional light.
No one wants to see their future midwife dancing in their bra on a pool table. Still. At least I know Caz has stamina, should my labour go on all night.
Caz greeted me warmly with a kiss on both cheeks.
‘Excuse the Dettol smell,’ she laughed. ‘Eileen was in this morning.’
Caz’s shaved hair was dyed pillar-box red, and she had Minnie Mouse plasters over her nose and eyebrow studs – presumable for hygiene reasons.
After a bit of a catch up about the Cambridge Folk Festival, I told Caz I thought I was pregnant.
‘Oh, that’s great news,’ said Caz. ‘Unless … hang on – you’re not still with Nick, are you?’
Gave another mumbled yes. ‘But I don’t even know if I am pregnant yet,’ I said, giving a hopeful laugh.
‘Have you taken a test?’ Caz asked.
‘Yes,’ I said. ‘Two.’
‘And you followed all the instructions? You didn’t get pissed and wee on the wrong end like your sister did?’
‘No,’ I said. ‘I did the tests right. Except for getting wee my hand, but I think that’s unavoidable.’
‘Then congratulations!’ Caz announced.
‘Don’t you want to do a test here?’ I said. ‘A proper one?’
‘No need,’ said Caz. ‘The home tests are just as accurate. And if you’ve done two, well ... that’s all the clarity we need. Anyway, you look pregnant. Your boobs and bum have got even bigger.’
‘Are you sure you don’t want to do a test here?’ I asked.
‘I could do one,’ said Caz, ‘but I’d have to send it away and you’d have to wait three days. Honestly, the home kits are exactly the same. I may as well give you your Bounty Pack and get everything started.’
Caz explained that a Bounty Pack was a shiny plastic folder holding a mecca of pregnancy information, plus free Pampers, wet wipes and Sudacream samples, and other baby-inspired miniatures.
Then Caz gave me a leaflet about avoiding blue cheese, raw fish, soft egg yolk and alcohol.
‘And you should start taking folic acid as of now,’ said Caz. ‘Although truth be told, I only bothered on my third pregnancy. And I had soft egg yolk during all of them, plus a pint of stout every Friday.’
‘So should I pay attention to this leaflet?’ I asked. ‘Or …’
‘Use your common sense and you’ll be okay,’ said Caz. ‘Don’t go mad on the post-Christmas cheeseboard. Don’t drink a whole bottle of wine. Look after yourself – tell Nick to pull his weight. You’ll be okay. Next time, we’ll talk about birthing options.’
‘Options?’ I said. ‘What options?’
‘Oh, births are like bloody weddings these days,’ said Caz. ‘Women have music playlists and all sorts. Then there’s the venue, philosophical outlook and so on. But there’s loads of time to think about all that. How’s Nick coping with everything?’
‘He’s a bit knocked for six, to be honest,’ I admitted.
‘I’m not surprised,’ said Caz. ‘It’s going to be a big adjustment for him.’
‘For both of us,’ I said.