Authors: Marisa Mackle
Secret Nanny Club
By MARISA MACKLE
© Marisa Mackle 2012
Okay, so it’s never fun being dumped. It’s horrible. In fact I would go as far as to say that dumping somebody is probably one of the crappiest thing in the world that one human being can do to another human being. When you’re the dumpee, the shame, the humiliation and the constant ‘What did I do wrong?’ questions swirling around in your head for ages afterwards are just awful.
Rejection is never nice but when somebody you want
doesn’t want you, it’s pretty terrible. I mean, if somebody rejects your CV at least you can console yourself by thinking, well, they didn’t ever give you the chance to show off your people skills, your unique innovation, or get to hear your witty public speaking. Likewise, if you’re an actor you can come to terms with rejection by presuming they wanted somebody shorter or fatter, or somebody of a different sex or something. But in relationships it’s much worse because the
you, they have spent quality time with you, and shared intimate moments with you, and you’ve poured out your heart to them. They’ve met your family, your dog, seen your bedroom in a mess and they’ve featured prominently in your dreams for a better future.
hen they leave, they don’t just leave empty-handed. No, they leave taking your dreams away with them. And then you have to start all over again.
And so I was single again. Back on the shelf I thought
I’d left for good. My new-found relationship status wasn’t one of my choice. God, no. I was still coming to terms with the abrupt split but I was too busy to keep analysing it to death. As my mother says: ‘It is what it
.’ And I must accept that. No amount of trying to make somebody change their mind will actually make them do it. Besides, it’s exhausting. My baby son needed my love and energy far more than my ex did. Besides, he didn’t want it anyway.
Some break-ups are less heart
-breaking than others, of course. Like when you’re young, you break up with people all the time for silly reasons, like they stuck you for the cinema tickets, or you don’t like their new haircut, or they wanted to go a bit further than you wanted to, or you caught them eyeing up your best friend. But when you’re older, and hopefully more mature (although age and maturity don’t necessarily go hand in hand), you need a better reason to break up with somebody.
My boyfriend, or rather ex-boyfriend, Clive, gave me
my marching orders the day my baby was born and still to this day I have absolutely no idea why. I mean, I knew he did not want me to have the baby and I knew that he was drifting further and further away from me as my pregnancy progressed but I really thought he would change his mind as time wore on, and I was convinced that after the birth he would fall madly in love with his kid, his flesh and blood. I guess I was so madly in love and so desperate for us to be together that I was blindly clinging on to the hope that he would realise that having a baby would be something wonderful. So, when I was dumped while giving birth and told to sling my hook once and for all, I was in serious shock. Of course he told me in a rather indirect kind of way. And not in front of the doctors and nurses. No. He did it on the phone. Just a couple of hours before they pulled the baby out of me.
It wasn’t ‘It’s not me, it’s you’. Rather it was, ‘It’s not
me, it’s you two’. I’ll admit the timing wasn’t the best. After all, anyone who has ever been dumped knows it’s pretty awful when you’re given a final goodbye, but when you’re just about to deliver your first baby you can multiply that dreaded feeling of rejection by a thousand.
Usually when a relationship ends, there’s some kind
of an uncomfortable ‘talk’ which is rarely fun and where at least one party is dying to make an escape. But at least it’s some kind of closure. It’s better to know for sure than to keep wondering why somebody isn’t returning any of your calls. Or texts. Or letters. Or faxes. Okay, okay, you get the picture.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget the ‘talk’ I had just before
I gave birth. I had phoned Clive because I was in agony with labour pains. I was crawling around on the kitchen floor when I looked at my watch, which had just hit midnight. I was wondering whether he was still up. I was
pretty worried that he might have gone to bed already. Somebody needed to take me to the hospital and I didn’t want to call an ambulance.
But no, he was up all right. In fact, he was at a party
and couldn’t hear very well over the music. I told him the baby was coming. He sounded surprised. Shocked, even. Then he said that it wasn’t a good time for him. And hung up.
I phoned back of course. He took the call again and
this time went outside to talk to me in private. He still insisted that it wasn’t a good time for him. I said it wasn’t a particularly good time for me either. I asked him if he could by any chance drive myself and our bump to the maternity hospital so that I could bring our baby into the world.
“I can’t!” he practically snarled own the phone. “I’ve
had a few drinks. Can you not phone your mother or a friend?”
I was stunned into silence.
“Any other time,” he said.
Actually, I’m joking about that last bit. Even
wouldn’t have said that. But he did suggest someone else, anyone besides him really. Surely my friend Sally would give me a lift in if she wasn’t doing anything? And then he hung up once more.
rang back a third time. This time he wasn’t even polite when he answered abruptly. He said that if I called him again that night he was going to report me for harassment. He said that he could no longer tolerate the constant drama and that I needed to give him a break. From now on he wanted a nice, peaceful life. Without me and the baby annoying him.
“You’re on your own now,” was the last thing I heard
him say before he hung up for the final time
Of course it all seems like a lifetime ago now. Even
the night of the birth itself is a bit of a blur, which is good. I don’t want that unpleasant memory clearly in my head forever. But some parts of the night are hard to block out. Like the memory of going to the hospital in a
that I’d hailed outside my apartment on the street because I actually felt I couldn’t phone one and wait ten minutes for it to arrive. The driver was terrified that my waters were going to break on the black-leather seat of his shiny Mercedes. His knuckles were white as he gripped the steering wheel and kept looking anxiously at my enormous belly. In fact, come to think of it, he even stopped off at a petrol station to buy me some kitchen roll, just in case, and presented it to me free of charge. Ah, bless.
I clearly recall admitting myself into hospital alone in
the dead of night, walking up those lonely steps and explaining to the administrator in the welcoming office that no, I had no partner or anything like that to accompany me, and that no, I wasn’t a private patient either – just a public one so, you know, it didn’t really matter where I gave birth. I think I might have even apologised for inconveniencing her.
As it turned out, there was no room for me in any of
the wards anyway. There had been an overwhelming amount of admissions that evening apparently, and so I was left out on a trolley in a brightly-lit corridor for a while, crying quietly to myself. I remember thinking how terrible it must have been for the poor Virgin Mary all those years ago when she, like me, found herself with no proper bed for the night in which to give birth. But at least she had Joseph with her, which must have been of some comfort. I bet Joseph wouldn’t have hung up on Mary if mobile phones had been around back then. I bet he wouldn’t have left her on her own in the stable with the ass and donkey, while he went off partying in Bethlehem.
Anyway, the baby came pretty quickly so I wasn’t left
in the corridor for too long. Obviously, as bad as the health system is in Ireland, they still don’t allow women to give birth in the corridor with people walking about chatting on their mobile phones or discussing their
. And at least it was just me in the delivery room on my own. Well, me and a few other people. Actually, quite a lot of people now that I cast my mind back. There was the doctor of course, an anaesthetist, a couple of midwives, a trainee doctor, a trainee nurse and
man who I think was also a nurse. At least I hope he was. I hope he wasn’t just some random spectator or something.
They say when you give birth you must be prepared
to leave your dignity at the maternity-hospital door before you go in. Well, they’re so right about that. It’s hard to be cool and nonchalant when you’re lying spread-eagled naked from the waist down on a bed before a group of uniformed strangers you met only a few minutes previously. However, the whole birth thing wasn’t quite as horrendous as I’d imagined it would be. I know I didn’t scream my head off but I do remember thinking at one stage that I couldn’t go through with the pushing anymore because I was too hot and exhausted and the sweat was pouring out of me. As ridiculous as it may seem, I remember telling the medical team that I’d have to stop,
I couldn’t possibly continue with this. My body was at breaking point. I mean, what was I thinking? Did I honestly think they’d let me go off for a coffee and maybe check my Facebook to update my status and come back later? Anyway, hats off to them, they kept me going with endless words of encouragement and they were super-kind. They made me feel like I was the only mummy giving birth in Ireland that day when in reality there must have been hundreds. The staff rolled me out afterwards on a trolley to the recovery room where I drifted into a deep, deep sleep while they looked after my newborn child for me. When I woke up it suddenly hit me that I was somebody’s actual mother. Imagine, a real-life mummy! But that initial euphoric feeling was followed by one of panic. What now? I knew nothing whatsoever about babies. I hadn’t even had any baby-sitting experience. I hadn’t done a course in parenting or even read a book about it! Jesus, you needed a license for a dog but you could just walk out of here with a real-life human being? I was petrified!
I didn’t sleep all night in the ward. The other mummies
were coughing loudly and some were talking loudly in foreign languages on their mobile phones. Whenever one baby stopping crying, another would start. They never turned off the lights in the ward all night, making sleep impossible. Then just after I had finally dozed off, having breastfed my little bundle of joy for about forty-five minutes, I was rudely woken up by two nurses pushing my bed into the side of the wall. I sat up with a jolt. What the hell was going on?
“We’re bringing another lady and her baby in to share
your cubicle with you. We’re very overcrowded tonight and just don’t have enough space for everyone. I’m really sorry about this.”
I could feel the tears welling in my eyes as the nurse
was talking to me. I honestly didn’t think I could take any more. I was so exhausted it was torturous. I wished I’d had earplugs to drown out the noise, but you can’t wear earplugs in case you can’t hear your baby crying. I just felt like I was in the middle of a living nightmare. The final straw was when the partner of the new mummy in my cubicle sat down at the end of my bed and started talking loudly to her. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t sleep with a strange man sitting at the end of my bed. When the nurse came around the next time, I asked to see the doctor on duty. When the senior house officer came around (a junior doctor despite the grand title – she was
very pretty little thing who looked around twelve), I told her that I needed to leave immediately. She raised a perfectly plucked eyebrow. “Oh, but you can’t leave,” she said politely but firmly. “You must wait until the registrar does his ward rounds in the morning
then he will decide if you can leave or not.”
“I am leaving,” I said, fighting back the tears. “I can’t
sleep here. If I need to come back I will, but I have to go now. I’m not a prisoner and I can’t be detained here against my will.”
I packed up my belongings and my baby and, still in
my nightie and dressing-gown, I asked the porter to phone me a taxi. It took about forty minutes to get to Bray but the relief to be back in my own little rented apartment was enormous. It was a wonderful feeling that I didn’t have to share a bathroom with six other women and their visitors any more.
“Welcome home, little fellow,” I said to my little baba
before feeding him, cuddling him and then putting him down to sleep in a little yellow Moses basket beside my own double bed. He closed his eyes and then I went to the fridge where I retrieved a snipe of champagne. I sat back on the bed, so relieved to be home and away from the hospital noise and its clinical smell. I toasted myself. “Here’s to me and my little man,” I said with a smile. “We did it. And we survived!”
The next few weeks were a bit of a haze. I know
people warn you about the lack of sleep that follows the arrival of a baby but nothing could have prepared me for the sheer exhaustion. I remember thinking that if I got five hours’ interrupted sleep it was like winning the lottery. In fact I became totally obsessed with getting some kip, unable to think about anything else but resting my head down on a pillow. I didn’t feel great about myself and I felt guilty for not feeling great. After all, there I was, the mother of a perfectly healthy baby boy