Had an appointment with the obstetrician today.
This was, of course, brilliant, as I got to leave work early to go to the hospital and then got home early enough to watch Escape to the Country.
However, despite the fact that my actual appointment with the obstetrician lasted, as I had predicted, five minutes, and was basically just a chat where he signed my maternity notes and said I was unlikely to have any problems, I was at the hospital for HOURS. Literally hours.
And this time it was not because I got lost.
First of all I had to queue for ages with loads of other pregnant women while the women on reception faffed about with huge piles of people’s maternity notes. Then I had to go and get a urine sample, and then wait for ages and ages (clutching said sample of my own urine. I mean, what is the etiquette here? Does one wrap it in tissue to disguise the offending urine-as I noticed everyone else had done-or does one spend 45 minutes trying to stuff the unwrapped sample up a sleeve to disguise the fact that it’s unwrapped, as I did? And what happens if you get it wrong? Does a burly midwife escort you from the premises yelling “ALL URINE SAMPLES NEED TO BE WRAPPED IN TISSUE. THINK OF YOUR MODESTY!”) with nothing but a screen showing a rolling film of adverts for overpriced baby products, such as the £19.99 “aid to natural labour” that appeared to be nothing more than a piece of foam to put between your teeth when gritting them during contractions, and a series of public information films on the theme “How to avoid accidentally killing your baby.”
Yes, apparently birth is just the start of a lifelong series of hazards that are poised to attack and kill your baby when you least expect it. First of all, the hospital will not let you leave until you can produce some sort of approved baby car seat, which leaves me more than a little flummoxed as I was planning on taking the baby home on the tube. Will I have to prove I can hold the baby effectively so that it doesn’t slip onto the electrified tracks? Or demonstrate perfect pram-pushing skills to show that I can “mind the gap?” Then, as if this were not alarming enough, babies can drown in an inch of water in less than a minute (beautifully illustrated by a distressed mother interrupting her child’s bath to answer the phone and then having to run back to dramatically rescue the child), they can be scalded by any water hotter than about 2 degrees celsius and if you accidentally breathe in some cigarette smoke in the street (which I do a lot, by the way, and end up walking around with my scarf covering my mouth as though I was battling my way through a desert sandstorm) then the baby is destined to expire from cot death, as warned by a stern-looking Anne Diamond. Good god it’s a miracle anyone ever survives to adulthood.
Still, if I had got bored of the public information films, I could have spent some time wandering around the hospital pointing out cracks in the walls and unsightly paint jobs, as there was a useful sign in the toilet reminding one that “it’s YOUR hospital” and encouraging the likes of me to point out where parts of the building could be in need of improvements; “a light not working, a patch of peeling paintwork.” For Christ’s sake have you been to Northwick Park Hospital? The entire building is an eyesore! They should just bulldoze the entire place and start again! It’s hardly the place you go to if you want to marvel at one of the wonders of modern architecture, and have a discussion with Kevin McCloud about how well it fits in with the surrounding natural landscape, and you would barely even notice it’s there.
Still, I got to come home from work early and watch Escape to the Country, so all was worthwhile. Even if I do think I may have haemorrhoids. Pregnancy is lovely.