The Divines by Ellie Eaton

The Divines by Ellie Eaton

Author:Ellie Eaton [Eaton, Ellie]
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9781529340143
Google: Uy79DwAAQBAJ
Publisher: Hachette UK
Published: 2021-02-18T00:00:00+00:00


There is nothing divine, I discover, about giving birth. The contractions have barely begun and I puke and shit and swear and am prone to loud, crapulous fits of belching, which I direct at the boys in the flat above. When the real pains start, I lurch around the apartment like a belligerent wino looking for a fight. I rant and rage and drip blood.

Jürgen ushers me through the early stages of labor as best he can. We don’t mention the fight, that I staggered home clutching my stomach, reeking of beer and peanuts, my trousers sodden. He rubs my shoulders and feeds me a bowl of pasta, and when I am on my knees, cursing and rocking and weeping, he slides aside the furniture as you would for an epileptic to stop them hurting themselves. When the time comes, he drives me to the hospital, bringing with us a copy of our birthing plan, which he hands to a nurse on duty. In this document we have stressed the importance to us of going natural. Old school. This was the way our mothers did it.

The midwife, on being handed this birthing plan, makes a cursory glance at the header that reads, “PLEASE do NOT offer me any pain medication,” and gives me what I take to be a withering look. Clearly she doesn’t think I am up to it.

“Don’t let that bitch anywhere near me,” I hiss to Jürgen.

I am convinced that the whole floor is out to get me. I’m being punished. They put us in a darkened room where I pace in circles for hours, I lose all sense of time, demented, howling in unimaginable agony, speaking gibberish. Eventually, when I am still not dilating, Jürgen leads me out into the corridor where I grip a handrail and stagger up and down like an agoraphobe, gasping in horror whenever a contraction comes on. I am going to die. I actually believe this. When I see an empty gurney in the corridor, I am overcome by an urge to ask for forgiveness, to unburden myself. I cling to Jürgen, sobbing.

“I’m sorry,” I say. “I’m sorry.”

He strokes my hair.

“For what?”

And then, just like that, I can’t bear to be touched by him. The nurse is right, I don’t have it in me to endure this much pain. Am I crazy? I summon back the obstetrician.

“I change my mind, I want the drugs,” I say.

She looks at Jürgen.

“Don’t fucking look at him.” I snatch her wrist. “I want the epidural.”

Jürgen, who hasn’t slept in nearly a day and a half, nods, and when the anesthetist arrives, my husband backs out of the room guiltily, in search of something to eat. I doze for a while in pain-free serenity, and when the time comes I push and pant and perform all the tricks our birthing instructor has taught us.

“How now brown cow,” I say.

The words come out of nowhere.

“What?” Jürgen’s brow creases.

“How. Now. Brown. Cow.” I groan.

The doctor lifts her head up from between my thighs.


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