Pregnant Days

Week 10: Can a clean freak handle parenthood?

Some people think my cleanliness habits are excessive but I think those people are crawling with germs. Their dirty bodies are hosting the next super virus that will wipe out 90% of the world’s population.

To say that I am a clean freak is an understatement. I have a selection of mini tube hand sanitisers, always at the ready. I wear gloves and a surgical mask on public transport, I was inspired by East Asians. I like order. I don’t like germs. I’m not at the Howard Hughes stage but never say never. But is it possible for clean freaks to have babies? How can you contain and eradicate their emissions without being arrested?

Last Sunday we visited my brother and his French wife for Sunday lunch. They have three children under the age of six. All of them have ancient Irish names that their parents pronounce incorrectly. My brother was as shit at Irish as herself. He hated the subject in school, in fact at one point he wrote to the Queen to ask her to conquer Ireland again so that he could stop learning, “this barbarian language”. But now that Irish has become fashionable amongst the upper middle class, he’s all over it like a contagious rash. Yet, he couldn’t just give his children run of the mill Irish names like Niamh or Ronan… no, no, he had to find the most obscure names because that obviously means you’re a real Irish aficionado and earn €90K+.

I still have PSTD from that Sunday visit. Their house is always covered in plastic neon debris that masquerades as toys. I nearly got anally raped by Peppa Pig’s pink slide. My two nieces and nephew kept trying to shove it inside my trousers. Their hysterical giggles were encouraged by the adults glee,
“Everyone loves Peppa Pig Birdie,” said my brother as he cleared unsterilized lego off the dinner table with the back of his hand… the lego fell onto the unclean floor. He just left it there. I shuddered.

Dinner was a horror show. Délámhach* shoved his hand in his nappy then shoveled potatoes in his wee mouth. Noting my revulsion, he smeared his urine and potato tinged hand on the side of my cheek. Oh how everyone reveled in my terror.

On the car drive home, I doused myself in my mini sanitisers. Herself could tell I that wasn’t myself. She pulled into the hard shoulder on the N7. Do you realise how much airborne dirt is zooming around the N7? Well at least it wasn’t the M50.

“What’s up Birdie?”

“It was so dirty and chaotic. I can’t let a baby dirty things up, promise me it won’t?”

“Of course it won’t!” Her tone was too enthusiastic, I grew suspicious.

“Are you sure?”

“Absolutely! You should see the baby cleaning gadgets.” Now she had my attention.

“Such as?”

The Mopet Robot Mop, it can constantly clean the floor, even when you sleep.” I kissed her.

“Maybe a clean freak can handle parenthood after all!” She smiled weakly and coughed without covering her mouth.

*Délámhach or dólámhach literally means “two-handed” in Irish, but it can be used idiomatically to mean “working all-out,” or “giving your best.”

Pregnant Days

Week 9: Photos of Bleeding Gums & Other Odd Pregnancy Reactions

Sometimes I question the societal value of a smartphone being able to take photos and video. Everything now is documented. There’s no novelty to taking a photo anymore.

When I grew up, only posh people had cameras. That is the main reason why there are five photos of me as a child. All were taken by wealthy relatives that had emigrated to the United States. Instead of a slew of photos to prove my childhood existence, I have vague memories.

I’m old enough to remember when disposable cameras were the must have on a night out with pals. I remember the excitement and the anticipation of waiting to get your night-out photos developed. Over time you understood that 70% of the photos would have your finger covering 70% of the photo.

Those were innocent times I’ve now come to realise. With the invention of the smartphone you don’t need a disposable camera or wealthy Irish-American relatives anymore. You’ve a hi-tech camera in your pocket that can deliver hyper real photos. The mysteries of life have been exposed especially around pregnancy, and I don’t think that’s a good thing.


“Look at my mouth!!!!!!” She texted. I put down my coffee and gasped for air. Her usual perfect white smile was dripping with blood. But the selfie did not convey any horror in her face, she actually seemed to find it hilarious as the laughter emoticons reinforced.
“Jesus. That’s vile.”
“That’s pregnancy Birdie <winky emoticon face + hearts>.”

I resumed drinking my coffee and tried to forgot what I had just seen. Two minutes later the phone beeped again. Another message from herself. I sighed.

“Look at my knickers <multiple laughter emoticons with tears streaming out>.” I threw the rest of my coffee down the work sink, sat down, inhaled deeply like the meditation app said to do when faced with stressful situations.

In my hand was a detailed image of the discharge on her knickers. I could make out from the floor that she was in her office. I guess when you’re the boss you can yank off your knickers whenever the mood takes you.
“Gah! Why are you showing me this?” The moment I sent it, I regretted it.
“Because we’re in this together & you need to know what I’m going through for us <angry + sad emoticon>.”
“OK. Thanks for the updates xo.”

I resigned myself to the fact that I’ll be getting a photo ticker full of weird bodily reactions to pregnancy up… fuck you modern technology.

Pregnant Days

Week 8: Our First Pregnancy Scan

We’re getting an early scan because of the several miscarriages before this current pregnancy. It’s a grim side of pregnancy that we never entertained before, none of our peers experienced it. In our little bubble we naively thought getting pregnant was as easy as the nuns used to tell us in school, “sitting on a toilet seat that a boy has just used can get you pregnant,” said Sister Rita with medical authority.

Miscarriage is an intensely sad and private affair. We did tell people, well we had to in order to get time off work but it’s difficult for people to conceptualise because the normal thing to do is grieve someone that you have met in person several times, a friend, a relative etc. With miscarriage there is a limited context for your friends and family because you are grieving the disappearance of hope which is a very different thing. Herself and I had formed a relationship of sorts with each of these lost pregnancies because we were there from the beginning. That is why this pregnancy is a lot more tense for us.

After our last miscarriage we met with our wonderful consultant who has to be the tallest woman in Ireland. She has a maternal softness to her that just puts you at ease. Obviously we were devastated.
“The reason for the miscarriage is inconclusive which is the case for the majority of miscarriages… but you will try again,” she urged.
“It’s because I’m a geriatric, right?” I knew herself was older then me but not that much older. I found myself examining her face, neck and hands more… she’s hardly over sixty or maybe…
“Nonsense, we’re actually revising the age entry point. Also a lot has to do with your internal age and you’re very healthy.” I wanted to ask what the age entry point is but I decided that it might warrant a thump from herself.

Several months later here we are, pregnant again and ready for our first scan. The lead up to this scan has been full of anxiety but it’s only the very rare couple that skips into the hospital to get their first early scan.

The consultant greets us warmly, “no need to be nervous, everything will be fine,” she smiles, “I’ll just pull the curtains over so that you can get yourself ready”. The curtain rail scrapes as she drags the blue curtain around herself. The consultant then sits and I take a seat beside her desk. We smile awkwardly at it each other and I make a comment about the weather. We can hear herself land her body on the examining table like a sack of potatoes. The plastic cover on the examination table squelches. “Ready,” herself shouts.


The consultant turns off the lights and then there is silence. Herself has her legs spread under a “modesty” sheet. The consultant ducks down and rattles around in a cabinet. She suddenly pops up with what looks like a very large dildo but in the medicine world they call it a very large probe. She puts a condom on it, or as herself puts it so eloquently, “she johnny’s it up”. Then she lubes it. I start to blush and try to look away but I’m compelled to keep looking. Herself and I squeeze hands as the tallest woman in Ireland inserts her probe into herself… I wondered to myself, does this count as a threesome? I think it does as I feel very left out.

The adrenaline is coursing through the both of us, dry mouths and racing hearts. Situations like this also have a hardcore laxative effect on me but I keep it together.

The consultant is silent for a bit too long. She squints her eyes to study the glowing white coral that is emerging from the black screen. She smiles then turns up the volume.

“That’s your baby’s heart.” It pounded like a Saturday night in Ibiza. Oh the relief.
“So everything is OK?”
“Oh yes, a great strong heart. I love hearts, it’s my area of specialty so I’m just going to geek out for a bit.”

Truth be known, we could not make head nor tail of it but if she said it was all grand then it’s grand. We looked at the consultant marvel at the screen, she was transfixed. Herself looked at me and mouthed that she needed to wee and I nodded and mouthed that I needed an emergency evacuation. Five minutes later the consultant’s beeper went off, thank feck.

*please note that image 2 is not an accurate image of an early scan but Facebook & Twitter might ban me if I use an image of a probe… they already think I sell sexual products & services hence why I had to drop the word lesbian!

Pregnant Days

Week 7: Pregnancy makes you piss your knickers

Herself is a very happy person. Pregnancy has made her even more delighted with herself. She laughs a lot. She goes out of her way to find puppies to pet on the way to work. She does this because she loves things that make her giggle and rejects sad things. I think it’s fair to say that I am a sad thing but she has not rejected me yet because, “I know there is some emotion rattling around in there and I see it as a challenge to revive it. Plus you’ve got a great paying job and I want to be housewife.”

One morning I was confessing my anxiety ridden thoughts to her on our jaunt to our respective workplaces. I was wallowing in my misery, like really digging some bleak stuff out of my feral brain. She nodded with a glazed look and then ran away from me. A baby beagle across the road summoned her. I’m not saying that she is not caring what I am saying is that her world is softly lit, full of positive affirmations courtesy of cousin Síle and 80’s pop music is the uplifting soundtrack.

Imagine my surprise when I returned from work to the pained vocals of Emo music playing from the record player. The TV had SKY News on as she sat bolt upright on the couch.
“What the hell is going on?”
“I keep pissing myself.” I looked at the plastic shopping bags that peeked out from under her dress.
“Why?” She looked annoyed.
“Because I downed a litre of vodka and a flagon of cider.”
“Jesus, you hold it well. Are you stressed out about the pregnancy?” I know it would drive me to drink too.
“Birdie, I’m not drunk! I haven’t drank alcohol in two years in order to enhance my fertility.” A fact that I am reminded of daily, you’d swear she donated her kidney to an orphan.

“So what’s the problem love?” I said as I sat down beside her. A plastic bag crinkled under my arse but I sensed it was best to ignore it.
“My feckin’ uterus is doubling in size and it’s flattening the pee out of my bladder into my knickers.”
“Christ that’s rough babe. Do you want me to ask my Granny for a lend of her incontinence pads?”
“No!” She slid down to the edge of the plastic bag creating a small space between us to symbolise a momentary rift. We both looked at Kay Burley reporting from a hurricane.

“I’m just trying to help love.”
“I know,” she placed her hand on my lap, “but I’ve found a solution.”
“I’m not allowed laugh… laughter makes me piss myself.”
“I understand.” This is a side of pregnancy they definitely don’t tell you about. I wondered should I ask about getting a rubber sheet for the bed but before I had a chance to ask she held my face tenderly in her hands. I smiled at her and she forced her burgeoning smile into a grimace.
“You know what Birdie?”
“What love?”
“You’d be so good at this pregnancy stage. You’d never piss yourself because you’re so wretched. I envy you.”