After what seems an eternity of sleepless nights, bleeding nipples and a complete absence of personal hygiene, our baby girl today becomes fifteen weeks old. (I could add to the list smiles, cuddles and beautiful giggles, but noting these would undermine my moan. So we'll pretend they never happen.)
Now a safe distance from the reality of that horrific 37 and a half hour ordeal (YES, the half hour IS important), we last night sat discussing the finale to nine months of me getting my own way, and the spectacular face plant back down to reality my unpoetic, completely non fairytale, epidural spattered grunt fest actually was.
I went on to bore Dave with the now familiar rant about searing contractions, dizzying exhaustion, injections of fabulously hallucinogenic poisons, yadda yadda yadda... His eyes glazed and that vacant, yet sadly usual, focus on the middle distance swept his careworn, oppressed, five o'clock shadowed face. He spent 10 minutes being the man I married; nodding in the right places, smiling with a convincing air of sympathy and not interrupting me. Good lad.
Amid my tirade about the NHS, I began to realise I had yawned three times. When your own labour tale bores even YOURSELF, its time to regroup. So, breaking from tradition, I swung in a curve ball. Mixed it up a bit. Set the cat amongst the pigeons. Blindsided the fella.
"So, how was it for you?"
Still locked on autopilot, the response was admirably well trained. "Terrible for you love. Shocking."
"No. How was the labour for you?"
Caught off guard, startled, uneasy...I read each perturbed notion with the greatest of sadistic pleasure. Anxiously, he edged to the brink of his chair, as if straining to hear me more clearly.
"Er....pardon sweetheart? For a minute there it sounded like you..."
"I did. I asked what you thought of my labour."
"Oh!? Oh! Oh God. That's what I thought you...oh. Oh God. Well...erm..."
"For God's sake Dave, go on? It's a pretty straight forward question. I mean....are you a man, or a mouse?"
My shell of an ex-Royal Marine husband swept his tail aside, cleaned up his whiskers, pulled up a knob of cheese and planted his bum on it.
"Well, it was long," he tentatively squeaked.
"Gooood. Now, go on. Keep going."
What happened next was completely unprecedented. An extraordinary, unparalleled, exceptional occurrence that has happened...well...never in our five years of marriage.
Dave spoke. Dave spoke at length. Dave spoke with the honesty, clarity and passion of a being deeply affected by a monumental and cataclismic episode. This man I married, a man who has run marathons, survived wars and lived with me for seven years; he was hurting.
I didn't hear all the words. Something about "harrowingly prolonged", "increasingly intense pain", "all consuming anguish, worry and distress", and "fraught pleases to the medical professionals for appropriate pain relief". He spoke of "sweating", "tightness", "feet" and "boots." BOOTS?
Shaking the stupor of a woman rocked by her husband's ACTUAL voice, I began to listen more carefully. It became apparent that Dave was not really sharing a tale about my labour, but a tale about his very own labour. He sat, poised, eloquent, gesturing wildly; his face animated with the recalled reality of his ordeal. Suddenly springing from his seat, he grabbed me by the arm, swept up upstairs and swung open his wardrobe doors, pointing angrily, incredulously, at the aforementioned "boots".
Turns out my poor little husband, the man who feelings are so much maligned, snubbed and blatantly disregarded in our house, was suffering a severe case of post traumatic stress, as a direct consequence of my labour: BECAUSE HE HAD WORN THE SAME FOOTWEAR FOR 37 AND A HALF HOURS AND HAD BEGUN TO SPROUT NOT ONE, BUT A HANDFUL, OF BLISTERS.
Standing agog, lost and forlorn at the wardrobe door, his words became a blur. Upon hearing the word "trenchfoot", I zoned back out. As I descended the stairs, I realised. All those times when I had re-lived my labour; all those hours spent poring over every moment of that unsurpassable trauma; all those times that my shy husband had looked despondently down at his feet: he too had been reliving it. Every itchy, eye watering, blistered, athletically footed moment of it.
Now, do you see why the man is ABSOLUTELY NEVER ALLOWED TO TALK?
Cathey Briars is a writer and blogger who has been shortlisted for the prestigious BiB, Brilliance in Blogging Awards, which recognises the most creative, inventive and compelling blogging of the year. See more of Cathey's musings on motherhood at My Funny Mummy and see who else had made the shortlist HERE.