During my previous career training as a nurse I had to work a few weeks on the Labour Ward, I absolutely loved it, probably because it was so intense and (excuse the pun) so hands on – or in this case hands in.
The Midwives were great and very down to earth and most of the mothers were great too, it’s a time of great excitement and beaming smiles – once baby had popped out of course! Most mothers were on their first or second births but occasionally the midwives would come across someone who’d been there more than a few times. One Sunday afternoon I was working with Margaret (name changed to protect the guilty!) and a mother came in straight from A&E (ER for our American friends), she was about to pop and we got all the equipment ready and asked the mum to remove her pants (obviously!). Mum asked Margaret did she recognise her and Margaret said no, not really – she wasn’t really paying attention trying to get everything ready but then when the mum had undressed and Margaret started to check how many centimetres she was dilated and had her fingers half way up her jacksie she suddenly said “Oh! NOW I know who you are!!”
My mouth fell open and I gave her that look, you know the one, the one that says “YOU recognise people, not by their faces, not by their voices but by looking at their jacksies?!?! …” She realised what she had implied and tried backpedalling but it was too late – I was going to tell absolutely everyone in the coffee room that evening!
(But between thou and I, I wonder, if Margaret was ever called up to one of those police line ups and had to identify some crook, would she be asking for everyone to drop their pants or else she wouldn’t recognise them… ?)
I told that tale to one of my friends, he said he knows how she feels, he says there are some folk he only recognises by looking at their jacksie too – and he’s not a doctor..just a bad bad lad!
One weekend I had a mum with a big ornate gothic script “EDDIE” tattoo on the inside of her thigh and Eddie was there, holding her hand and doing all the right things. For almost 12 hours, we soothed, cajoled, encouraged and cheered on this lady. I brought Eddie into it: “Look at Eddie, he loves you and the baby so much, breathe with Eddie, keep going, Eddie, you hold her hand” blah, blah, blah.. 12 hours of sweat and tears, near exhaustion and trying my best to involve Eddie and make it a brilliant caring sharing experience for both of them..
Close to the end and I start to realise that something’s up, Eddie’s got more and more stony-faced and silent throughout the day..
He’s actually glaring at me now.
A thought strikes me, “Ummmm, is your name Eddie?”
With the most hateful glance, he grunts, “No!”
PS I probably should explain that at that point I had been in England for only two years and my accent was as thick as treacle, so when I asked him at the start ‘are you Eddie?’ he thought I asked ‘are you ready..?’ and said yes ..Doh.