Inspired by Mary Berry’s fab new cooking programme yesterday, I decided to make a lemon drizzle cake for my work’s team meeting tomorrow. Having done this recipe twice over Christmas I was pleased that the result was third time lucky. It was also my new year’s resolution to do more baking for work (as I am surrounded by a load of domestic goddesses who do fabulous things on agas) so having done 2 bakes within the first 3 months of the year I consider it quite good going (for me). Even more impressive was preparing pancake mixture for shrove Tuesday at the same time, although I am never very good at doing the bit on the pan so let the hubby take over that bit (round about now I’m sure you are expecting me to throw in some cheap shot about how he is very good at throwing things up and down, or the other word for it beginning with t…..).
I particularly like pancake day as it is the one and only time when I buy nutella, because my daughter rather sensibly prefers choc spread pancakes. If I bought Nutella on a regular basis I would be the size of a house…why? Because I only bought the jar at 5pm today and already I have had 1 nutella pancake and 3 slices of toast pasted in nutella. I didn’t eat much else and I was momentarily in heaven. In fact thank god I don’t live on my own because my cupboard would consist of the following: white crusty bread, brown seedy bread, Marmite, peanut butter, honey, nutella, strawberry and raspberry jam, shreddies, big potatoes, baked beans, red bush tea, Cadburys chocolate and Mcvities digestive biscuits. My fridge would not be that full: apple and elderflower juice, milk, Rachels organic yoghurt, broccoli and lots of vegetarian frozen food.
Moving from highly calorific food to highly readable literature, I mentioned that I would display an excerpt from Helen Thomas’ first book ‘As It Was'(written late 1800s), which is her description of childbirth. I am going to send this to the NCT as this is what midwives would term as a successful ‘active labour’, when everything goes according to plan and Mums to be resist the temptation to take everything offered in the pain killing dept. Although I do wonder at times if Helen could have done with some gas and air..
“I woke feeling as I used to when a child on my birthday morning, or on the morning when we were going away to the seaside. Something was going to happen that I had been counting up the days for. What was it? I had forgotten. But my baby had not slept; he was impatient to be out, and the sign was so sharp that this time it made me catch my breath. Edward (her husband) was in his bath – I got hurried and flustered and called him to be quick and let me have mine, for the pain now was so sharp, and seemed so impatient that it excited and unnerved me. Everything before had been so slow, so calm; this was a new and expected note; I could not at once attune myself to it. I bathed and dressed as quickly as I could, the pain speeding me with its insistence. My baby called me and I must hurry to him, but how? When? Edward, tying his tie at the mirror, saw my face reflected in it, and came and held me against him, and when I felt his body tremble my panic fled and I was calm again.
I ran downstairs to tell Mrs Townsend, and met Ann, who disapproved of the bother of a confinement in the house; so all she said was, “Ye’ll be worse afore yes be better.” But I was not to be frightened out of my calm any more. …
………….”The pain came fiercer and more often now, but I was full of restless energy. I went up and down stairs, and went down to lunch, and read aloud to John, who begged me to finish the chapter in Treasure Island I had begun the day before. Mrs Townsend bough tea up to our room, and we had a sort of picnic round the fire, she and nurse talking of practical matters, but I was lost to all but my own excitement, which not even the pain could subdue. I must be doing, my soul was singing and free, my body must respond however foolishly. The fierceness of the pain stopped me in all I began; I had to hold on to anything stable, and when I looked at Mrs Townsend’s face I saw pity there. But she could not speak of her feeling to me and I was glad she could not. I wanted to be alone with this fierce exultation of pain. My spirit sang in triumph after each paroxysm, but my body was like a dead weight on it. I only knew that my baby and I were struggling for him to be born. He could not go back to his quiet darkness. All was changed. He had begun his perilous journey to life -I must speed him and help him; keep him with all the strength of my body and all the strength of my desire for him, pressed forwards towards the light where his soul waited for him. I did not think this, but dimly perceived it was so.
I cling onto the bed, and feel that the pain is overwhelming me. I must not let it. Nurse comes to hold me. “No don’t touch me; go to the fire; I can smell the baby things scorching”. So by trivial ways I try to keep in touch with reality. My few garments are unbearable. I try to undress, but become confused as the waves of pain break over me, making consciousness more and more difficult to retain. But I will not let my spirit be drowned. I will not lose touch with my baby. I have a feeling that if I let go my hold on consciousness I shall be leaving him alone.
Nurse says a word of praise and encouragement, which gives me confidence in myself again. I diver as I lie on the bed, but I use every ounce of effort and strength when the paroxysm comes, and feel again the triumphant exultation. My body labours, but my spirit is free. My baby and I are struggling to be rid of each other. That strange, secret link must be broken. He must be himself apart from me, and I must give him to mankind.
My body is seized by a new strangely expelling pain. I am again terribly alone – a primitive creature, without thought, without desire, without anything but this instinct to rid my womb of what encumbers it. I hear voices far away. I feel hands about me, but I am not I; I am only an elemental instinctive force bringing forth after its kind. A pain more rending than all bears me on its crest into utter darkness. A cry, a strange unearthly cry strikes piteously at my heart, and pierces my darkness. My consciousness strives towards that cry, my soul recognises it. It is my baby’s cry, and it leads my spirit away from the dark and back to the light.
……”Suddenly the realization of life and of all that may separate us comes to me, and I hold him close. I want him still to be all my own. His eyes close, and he nuzzles against my breast, and with his groping mouth finds my nipple. He is soft and warm and sweet. As he draws the warm milk from me, and I feel that mysterious pleasure, half spiritual, half physical, I realize that the link between us is imperishable. I am forever his mother and he my son”.
By Helen Thomas
I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef.
Thanks for reading.