“Did it hurt?” I ask because it looks like no one else will.
“Nah,” Juliet says, “not really. I mean nothing you can’t deal with.”
In her late twenties, Juliet has the plumpness and energy of youth. Her squishy pale limbs are cradling her new baby, Baby One. The first of the NCT babies. The rest of us are marooned at the end of our pregnancies, swelling like balloons about to take off the wrong way.
I touch my bump and breathe in, thinking of the Golden Thread the yoga teacher talked about. I’m not sure how long the Golden Thread is, or how it got to be in my throat, but apparently you breathe in a special way and the Golden Thread spins out in front of you, and then your baby floats out with no pain, and starts breastfeeding immediately while you have a snooze.
“We like to call them waves of love rather than contractions,” says the yoga teacher. She has green eyes and a tattoo of a Griffin in the small of her back. The lion’s head is roaring. She also says she can hear her kids breathing two floors up because she has such a strong connection with them. I wondered if she had heard of baby monitors.
I find myself worrying about the Golden Thread. What if I breathe it out and it doesn’t come back? How far is it supposed to go? Sometimes when I concentrate really hard it goes out and gets caught on people and corners and shopping trolleys, and even strangles one man on a particularly low day. It’s the same with counting sheep – it’s never worked for me because they all rush out at once and go off in different directions.
Someone is saying my name so I leave the Golden Thread dangling over a sheep and focus on the scene in front of me. We all look at Baby One. He is asleep. He looks – well he looks like a baby.
Minnie helps me with the tea. We are both one week over due and desperate for some movement. She leans into me conspiratorially.
“Juliet hasn’t sat down since she got here. Have you noticed?”
“Euugh” I say sympathetically. “I must offer her a cushion.”
“It must hurt if you can’t sit down right?” Minnie passes me the milk.
“Yeah it must hurt. Surely… a little bit. But not too much otherwise women wouldn’t do it, and there wouldn’t be any second and third kids would there?”
I wonder again what labour is like. Will it be waves of love or a tsunami of pain? I’ve been told the last bit is like doing a really big painful poo after a vindaloo, but it was a bloke who said that. No one who has actually given birth has told me anything.
My husband said being kicked in the balls is supposed to be more painful than childbirth and I am in awe of the confidence he has that I will not do a comparison after I have the baby. I guess he knows he is safe because my yoga teacher said if I don’t squeeze my vagina every time I stop at traffic lights I will wee everywhere, all the time after giving birth. So instead of giving him a good old hoof to the balls, I’m more likely to lift my leg and pee on him like a mangy dog.
Minnie nudges me. “Zara has almond milk in her tea. She brought it along especially.”
I glug some of it in. It’s a bit yellow.
“So who will be next?” I say as I hand out the tea.
Everyone says “Ooh.”