Riona O Connor - The Unnatural Woman

Actor. Singer. Mother. Songwriter. Vlogger. Blogger. Eater. Pop over to to view more blogs by Riona.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

10 Weeks To Go - C**ts and Battlefields

30 Weeks Pregnant

Baby size : A large head of cabbage

How I Feel : Invincible and vulnerable.  All at the same time!

*If you’re offended by ‘bad’ language skip the first paragraph, no, the first two paragraphs……. OK just don’t read this*

My dear sweet nana had a great saying, ‘If it looks like a cunt and it smells like a cunt, chances are, it’s a cunt’.* Excuse me for mixing my metaphors, but I refer of course to that trojan horse of a friend/family member, who rocks up with a vintage bottle of joy, then proceeds to vomit gifts of stress, guilt and upset all over your brand new white carpet, leaving you to deal with the fallout and mess. I mean, isn’t emotional manipulation THE BEST?!

What I’m wondering is, will motherhood and my ‘higher priority’ demand I endorse less crap from these people?  Will I become fantastic at wheedling the feckers out before the vomiting begins? Right now, I’m all Empathy and Flowers, trying to analyse and understand in order to make sense of their actions - there is great love there after all.  Sometimes though, I get weary.  I don’t want to figure out the whys of why you’re being an aresehole.  Just STOP BEING AN ARESHOLE.  I’m bored of trying to understand.  Let’s face it, sometimes, SOMETIMES, empathy is overrated.  

Luckily, I also got time with non trojans this week.  I swanned home, grinning like a mated bull, at 2am Saturday morning, happily soaked in wine and vodka after a night out in Soho.  Ah, just like the old days.  Unfortunately/fortunately I had only a sniff of wine and some virgin cocktails.  The wine and vodka soaking came courtesy of some of my favourite women, unafraid to spill a drop of alcohol for the greater good of a messy night.  I have to say I have not missed hungover days.  Couch bound, carb filled, hellish days, full of vulnerability and the dreaded The Fear, a sacrifice I gave willingly to the gods of wine and whiskey.  But I do miss the nights, oh the nights...

Now, vulnerability can be a fantastic thing, however, here are two occasions when it’s definitely not cool.  One - the aforementioned The Fear.  Two - when you’re on the tube with a massive bump, a fist up your arse (baby’s) and an inability to sit with your legs closed. Of course, this is when a slightly inebriated city slicker in a suit starts hitting on you.  Brilliant! There I was, minding my own business trying not to fart out loud as is the pregnancy curse, and over he comes.   I wonder, what gave him the ‘come hither’ look? The oversized baggy jumper? The worn black leggings? The mucky trainers? The fart smell I'm pretending is the chubby guy across the way? I guess that’s the ‘she was asking for it’ argument blown out of the water!  I just got off the tube.  What I should have done was climb astride him, look deep in his eyes and in a husky Demi Moore whisper, say ‘Hey lover, I’m going to pop out a kid in ten weeks, but until then, my vagina is as tight as the top of a hot water bottle, so how about we go at it right here, right now?’ Mmmmm maybe I’m not that brave…

Having sort of come to terms with Catheters and perineum slicing, our antenatal class covered C-sections this week.  Aha! I thought, maybe this will be the easy ‘too posh to push’ birth I can fall back on should it all get too much in the delivery room.  Heeheeheehahaha. What shower of eejits are floating this idea? A C-section sounds horrendous!!! Like being shredded-by-a-lawn-mower horrendous. It’s full on abdominal surgery for crying out loud!  After surgery isn’t it the legal requirement to stay in bed watching Breaking Bad for two weeks? Well, Walt isn’t going to change nappies! Jesse isn’t going to feed baby! Hank isn’t going to bring me pizza!  I admit it, I have wronged and chastised many women on the telly.  All because they ‘moaned’ about having a section.  Now I TOTALLY get it. What martyr on a cross could not be mildly tempted by a teeny tiny moan of fear about being cut open and immediately made primary carer for a helpless blob of lovely neediness? Labour is like a Monty Python sketch everyone is ignoring.  ‘Oh, look! I’ve had my arm chopped off but don’t worry about me, I’m off to do the milk run.  Oh, there goes my leg too, never mind, I’ll hop...’  I have no desire to be dramatic but neither would I like to be dismissed because ‘people do it every day’. Can we fall somewhere in the middle please?  

The more I learn the more I’m in awe of this birthing process.  Why are all the speeches in movies about going into battle specifically about war? It'll certainly feel like marching into battle when I go into labour, no matter how I do it.  Blood - check! Guts - check! Glory (in form of baby) - check! It’s a fecking battle!  Of course I’ll want cooing, fluttering and reassuring, but god damn it I want some inspiration!!! Where is my ‘I love the smell of napalm in the morning’? My ‘They may take our lives, but they’ll never take our FREEDOM’? Where?!  If I knew Judi Dench** I’d beg her to paraphrase Aragorn…

‘Sisters of gas & air, of cesareans.  I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me! A day may come, when the courage of women fails, when we forsake our ideals and all bonds of sisterhood, but it is not this day! Hours of placentas and vaginal tears, when the age of women comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we push! By all that you hold dear on this good earth, I bid you, PUSH, women of the world!’

*my Nana would NEVER have used this word.  She called her poo her coakseorum, and her breasts her kinoblers! She was brilliant.   

** Two friends are working with Judi right now and I am sick for them.  It must be truly awful.  No, seriously, Stav, Mike, tell her I love her!

Thursday, 23 April 2015

11 Weeks To Go - Boobs and Tubes

29 Weeks Pregnant

Baby size : Butternut Squash

How I Feel : Cocky and afraid of being cocky, it can’t possibly be this smooth a journey can it?*

Catheters.  Like Spiders - ungoogleable.  There might be IMAGES.  Images somewhere of small tubes going into small holes. I don’t want to think about that.  At all. I used to sing for and brow beat lovely grannies into exercising in care homes all over London, and if there was an accompanying bag, I would never under any circumstances make eye contact with it.  Now, a catheter might be put inside me in order to get baby out. You see, during birth, baby might block my bladder causing it to overfill and stretch - not good in the long run apparently.  Look, I know that those of you who have had babies will be laughing at me.  A little teeny tiny tube will be the least of my worries when there’s a HUMAN coming out of my vagina.  For some unfathomable reason, I can cope with thoughts of labour (maybe I’m in denial) but it’s all the little details that are terrifying.  Maybe I shouldn’t be attending these antenatal classes at all. Maybe it’s best to fly blind and stay ignorant to catheters and perineum slicing.  I would be innocently and blissfully happy. I could just waltz up to the hospital, bottle of prosecco in hand and proclaim to the midwife ‘sweety, give me all the drugs and go to town down there’.  Like a really jaded prostitute.  No?

My Mom told me last night that all three of us siblings came between two and four weeks early. FEAR! This baby is simply not allowed to come early, does he not know I have a LIST???!!! Early babies do not necessarily run in families, but of course my mind is now fully expecting baby mid June instead of mid July.  I’ll still be doing a west end show.  I can see it now, I’m dressed as my vile unglamorous canteen lady with a greasy ginger wig and a hair net, sitting spread eagle (that’s how she sits) down stage, and my waters break all over the front row.  Nearly fifteen hundred gleefully horrified audience members look on while two drenched ones writhe in internal bodily fluid disgust! I try and make it look like it’s all part of the show and flawlessly achieve this with an inspired monologue about canteen lady oppression before breaking into ‘When The Levee Breaks’ by Led Zeppelin.  I might be overthinking this slightly.

In a 13 point list update (find this in my blog bio), things are getting crossed off! Yay!  I’ve had some great work meetings, we’re about to agree on a completion date on the house (cross everything) and driving lessons are going well.  In fact, everything is going well.  When everything is going well the temptation to go into blind panic mode is strong.  All the disaster scenarios flash in and out of my mind.  Pregnancy can’t be this straight forward can it? I’ve heard all the horror stories, why are none of them happening to me?  I really feel I should be doing five Hail Mary’s and seven Our Fathers to even things out. Catholic guilt has a lot to answer for.  Jaysus.    

What I have gained from this ease of creating life, is a new found appreciation of my body.  ‘I’ am doing absolutely nothing, zero, zilch.  I’m just carrying on with my life.  My body however is a fricking superstar! It’s just getting on with it, no fuss, no drama, nothing, it’s just being awesome.  I’m flinging gratitude about like a lasso just now because I know that it could have been very different for me.  It still could become really different for me so gratitude, gratitude, gratitude is the name of the game.  

So yes, my body seems to love pregnancy. The only things that aren’t cooperating are my boobs.  They haven’t gotten any bigger, isn’t that supposed to be one of the perks? This week they have sprung into action mind you, not getting bigger, but producing some sort of cheese!!!  It was after a shower I noticed it, a weird discolouration on my nipples that on closer inspection, turned out to be tiny lumps of cheesey stuff.  What the hell is that??? Now I have read that colostrum (your first milk) might make an appearance this week but no one said anything about being a fecking cheddar factory.  I had to prize them off, like scrapings off a grater, without breaking my nipples.  I felt like an alien cow.  I suppose it does make sense, obviously cheese comes from milk but, really? I had been joking in work, that when I do make an appearance to our final show party in September, that the White Russians are on me!!! Breast milk and vodka - mmmmm.  I didn’t realise I’d be able to supply the bloody cheese board as well.  

*Onion bhaji alert! Did feel nauseous this morning but OK now so I’m putting it down to the onion bhaji’s and pint of milk I had at 11pm last night.  

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

12 Weeks To Go

28 Weeks Pregnant

Baby size : Cauliflower

How I Feel : Sciatica may be looming… There’s something in my left arse cheek that feels questionable.  But other than that potential threat, really really good! Hate me, go on.

So this week I’ve made a few discoveries.  I’ve been concentrating on making new work contacts before I have to leave my current job to go on maternity leave.  In my line of work there are zero guarantees (it’s a true miracle I can get maternity leave) and if I don’t continue to add to my CV while I’m ‘off’ (I promise I’m using that word very lightly) I fear any new employers will see me as being stagnant and undesirable.  Brilliant right?!  This means a lot of time spent at my kitchen table drinking sugary tea and sending emails.  I’ve also been continuing with driving lessons - it's three weeks until my test BTW.  Both of these things mean sitting for long periods, in a slightly forward position, and this has led to horrible discovery number one : The Brotch.

The Brotch (definition) : part of the body trapped between the bump and the crotch.

Charming I know.  The weather is getting warmer and The Brotch is unforgiving.  There I am, stuck to a patch of my own sweat, trapped in the driving seat, pretending to think about the biting point while my instructor gets impatient with the drivers getting impatient with me while I get impatient with The Brotch. I have had to change my mortified knickers on numerous undignified occasions - thankfully not mid lesson, that would be a Bridget Jones film, but I'm not ruling it out!  New pregnancy lesson - sitting + sun = bring spare knickers.   

On another note, we attended our first antenatal class this week.  To begin, we sat in a circle and one by one introduced ourselves and named one thing we would like to learn in class.  Hubby was itching to say something 'funny', I could smell it off him! I thought, this could go either way, so when he got a laugh* the relief was palpable - in both of us!  Admittedly our need to be liked isn't our most attractive quality....

My aim is this : I want to know how to keep baby alive. The basics right?  How do I not kill my child in the first fortnight. My way of coping when baby is born will undoubtedly be to batten down the hatches, order pizza and get my shit together - both figuratively and literally if the rumours about all these pads I'll need are true.  So, I need to know : how do I change a nappy, how do I not drop him, how do I feed him, how do I prevent my boobs turning into bloody oozing lumps of pain, how do I put him to sleep, how do I not kill my husband when I’m riddled with fear and uncertainty???  All these things I want to and will discover!  

The people in class all seem lovely - as most people do upon first meeting.  No one is going to show up shouting ‘Hey, I’m the arsehole you’re going to hate’! But I’m sure he or she is in there somewhere.  We had the usual 'we're mingling with strangers' fear. You might think we’d be relieved befriending a group of people where we all had something in common.  My fear was and is that pregnancy is ALL we’ll have in common!  What if my small talk runs out after the first meeting?  Oh lord how I love and loathe small talk,  it is my saviour and my downfall.  I didn’t even have my usual social crutch : wine.  Hubby and I desperately stared at each other with panicked eyes when we felt we weren’t mingling as fantastically as other parents-to-be.  We were both so relieved when we ended up having chats about hospital access and the price of London living.  Who knew these things were SO fascinating!!! Later on though, one mom-to-be mentioned wine as a potential labour comfort, next week I’m going to try to sit next to her.  We could be friends.  Definitely.  

At the very end of class came the second BRILLIANTLY LOVELY discovery - my husband gets to massage my PERINEUM.

Perineum (definition) : the area between the anus and the vulva or scrotum.

Haha!  Yes!  Lucky him.  You see there’s a chance (or a certainty - I haven’t figured that out yet) that my perineum will either split open itself, or be sliced neatly open with a knife to allow baby more room upon his exit.  Isn’t it just wonderful?! I can’t wait!  We’ve already discussed the positions this procedure could occur in.  I can just imagine watching Game Of Thrones on all fours while hubby goes at it with our oil of choice.  Do we try to be sexy? I’m not feeling very turned on here at the table with my tea thinking of the perineum rub.  Would he wear a glove? It’s not like he’s unfamiliar with the area, but it all seems so clinical and practical! You wouldn’t exactly get the candles and a bottle of wine out for the perineum rubbing now would you? I’ll keep you updated, or maybe I won’t…

*Hubbys aim was to figure out what buggy to buy - a true new parenting minefield!  More on that later though. 

Monday, 6 April 2015

13 Weeks To Go

26 weeks pregnant*
Baby size : aubergine
How I feel : stretched, need naps, chocolate is God, but pretty great ‘considering’...

Yesterday, as I walked down the stairs towards **Frank, he said ‘Oh here she is, the Pregosaurus’.

Think about it...  ‘Oh here she is, the Pregosaurus’.  

Just another minute.

Ya.  Pregosaurus.  Holy mother of divine shite.  

I’m somehow being compared to a dinosaur.  Holy shit balls. I definitely don’t want to be compared in any way to a huge, old, extinct, past it, wide, heavy, plodding, leathery creature.  It definitely doesn’t make me feel like I’m ‘blossoming‘ or ‘glowing’, words which I’ve pretty much come to demand in my head when people feel compelled to comment on my appearance. I mean, lets be honest, those are the only acceptable words to use when referring to a pregnant woman. Frank clearly hasn’t gotten that memo!

I mean, I feel good, I think I’m looking pretty well.  Keeping in mind that most of me is expanding, ‘pretty well’ right now equates to me ‘normally’ looking Pretty Fucking Fabulous in my opinion.  So that’s all I want to hear, how bloody great I’m looking and how well I’m doing and that is the full extent of it please.  Not ‘well,  considering...’.  Not ‘well, despite of...’  Just - well! Frank may as well have stuck a sign on my thickening arse saying ‘WIDE LOAD’.  Pregosaurus comments are NOT welcome.  

Another curious thing is the amount of friends (all men) who have asked me how my sex drive is and if I’m still having sex with my husband.  One guy asked me with genuine concern whether my husband was turned off by my pregnancy.  If I’d answered ‘yes’ I think my husband would have been in grave danger so at least I know this guy has my back, but LORD, I didn’t realise it was cool to broach questions like that before 2am, a third bottle of wine and a cheese board!

It didn’t even occur to me that my husband would not want to have sex with me.  Whether that potentially be because he was repulsed by my bump, or think that having sex would in some way invade the baby’s space or for any other reason people may have.  I think my brain blocked that thought out.  With everything else going on in my life, my brain just assumed that my husband was not a wanker who only saw my widening form and that was the end of that conversation.  For the record, I’m not privy to a lot of things that go on in my head.  If things are obvious to my brain, it just doesn’t go there and analyse them.  If I thought for one second that my husband didn't want to have sex with me because I was pregnant, this blog would be a HELL of a lot longer.  There would be empty cans and worms bloody well EVERYWHERE.  Anyway, I don’t want to say I’m ‘grateful’ that my husband doesn’t see me as a Pregosaurus - because I should be able to take that for granted for feck sake - but I suppose I am.  I feel good, I look good (thank you hairpieces and make-up for being heavily involved in that) and despite eating enough cream eggs to keep the sugar levels of a small town sky high, I’m healthy.  

So, overall, I’m still excited and optimistic about the next 13 weeks.  In that time I will become a parent and a homeowner, work 6 days a week, plan and prepare for post pregnancy work, try to see all my friends before I can never leave the house again without military style planning, learn to drive and pass my test, work on new writing projects and, above all, figure out how in the name of jaysus I’m going to keep a small baby alive having never changed a nappy in my life.  This is all doable right?

* In case my maths bug the geniuses out there, I'm 26 and a bit weeks pregnant with 13 and a bit weeks to go.  Two bits equals one in my book, bringing it to a nice round 40 weeks of pregnancy :-)

**his name's not Frank