Riona O Connor - The Unnatural Woman

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

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

8 Weeks To Go - Bum Nuggets & Bedfordshire

32 Weeks Pregnant

Baby size : Pineapple

How I feel : Yoyo-like but rallying!

Poo, shit, kaka, crap, bum nuggets, chocolate bananas, doodoo, faeces, turds, sewer trout. Whatever I decide to call it, I’m going to get close to it, embrace it, become immune to it, be excited by it, be covered in it. Its going to get in my clothes, in my hair, in my couch, in hubby’s beard and most probably in my mouth. Yup, in the next few years I’m literally going to eat shit. This isn’t some lucrative porn business, oh no, it’s just having a baby. My fondness for poo will begin in labour I'm told.  You positively shit yourself while having a baby, and here’s the big news - it ain’t no thing! Midwives love it apparently. When I feel the need to poo I should be delighted as it means baby is close to being OUT. Shitting myself = champagne. Who knew? When those little nuggets of joy pop out they will be followed by my big nugget of joy - baby. Wohoo! Then The Big Turd Immunity of 2015 will really begin. Starting with a sticky black substance called meconium (babies first poo) and followed by years of wiping and cleaning and changing and washing. Yes, the poo phase of my life is about to begin and I must welcome it.

We attended a hypnobirthing course this week. I hadn’t heard of Hypnobirthing before a colleague recommended it, but in a nutshell, it’s a birthing technique where you work with your birthing partner and aim to breathe your baby out using self hypnosis and breathing techniques. I loved the course. Labour need not be painful it suggests. Labour can be a calm and beautiful experience it says. I really want to have this beautiful experience, so we’re doing our homework - the massage, the affirmations, the relaxation exercises, the breathing, the whole shebang! I’ll let you know how it turns out… We stuck up the recommended affirmations around our house. YOU ARE A STRONG AND CAPABLE WOMAN shouts the toilet. ALL THE STRENGTH I NEED IS WITHIN ME barks the fridge. I’m forcing myself to get used to these phrases because as of now, I feel like my fridge and toilet are bullying me. What if I’m not strong? What if I’m not capable? I reserve the right to be a blathering mess goddamnit! It’s at this point I realise the hormones I’ve heard rumours about have finally found me. I feel incredibly vulnerable and incredibly capable all the time, at the same time. They’re co-existing and I’m telling you now, it’s a minefield in here. My mind at the moment - ‘Riona, you could totally climb Everest you heavenly goddess you’... 30 seconds later… ‘FOOOOOOOOL, get your fat arse under that duvet and don’t come out until you’ve eaten all the pringles and dairy milk and have had someone bring you potatoes.’ I’ve had Brene Brown’s TED talks (watch them if you can, they’re amazing) on vulnerability and shame for breakfast, lunch and dinner - as well as chocolate of course, and they are brilliant. My sneaking suspicion is that confidence in life, leads to confidence in birth so I’m working my bum off to make that happen. There have been some interesting obstacles, for example I’ve had a few insults wrapped up in friendly laughter this week. We all know these little phrases. ‘Haha remember when you wore THAT dress, oh it was lovely but, haha it was so different haha’. I didn’t even know the ‘dress’ was up for debate or discussion, and to channel Carrie Bradshaw, it was ‘fabulous’, so feck off. I’m not sure why some people feel the need to put others back in their boxes. Well, I’ve not had an overconfident day in my life so if I’ve managed to fool some feckers into thinking I’m too big for my boots, I’m going to take that as a sign of success with a modicum of wohoo! and a pinch of screw you!!!

This week I also found myself half naked in a room with ten techy men with lots of hair. Now, in my student days this would have sent me into a horny sex fuelled frenzy. Hairy techy men are my thing. So there I was, lying down on a luxurious carpet, trying to be all nonchalant about it all, with the sexy hairy techies bringing me pillows and water and making sure my every need was catered for. Oh god it was good. The sex fantasy was rudely interrupted by the reality of my glistening naked bump being stared at by all. Hubby and I somehow managed to fool a big company into employing us to be ‘happy pregnant couple’ in a commercial! One of these sexy hairy techies was my non actor husband who had to pretend to feel baby move for the first time. He valiantly held his own in front of a big production team by channelling Jeff Goldblum when he first saw those dinosaurs in Jurassic Park. It was big people, it was big. I’m hoping we’ll get to see him in all his acting glory (I was more the background figure, the baby vessel) on telly. It would make me laugh certainly (as long as I don’t look like a beached whale, then I’ll cry) and also pay for this (tiny) car we need when we move to the country.

Yes! We get the keys to our new house TOMORROW. We’re about to become homeowners. I daren’t say it out loud, because….

Donovan : ‘As you can see now Dr Jones, we’re on the verge of completing a quest… we’re just one step away’
Indiana : ‘That’s usually when the ground falls out from underneath your feet’.

So, we MIGHT be moving outside of London this week - only 40 minutes mind you but it’s not my beloved London is it? It’s Bedfordshire for crying out loud! I thought this was somewhere Bridget Jones had made up. Now I’m going to (maybe!) live there, on a quiet country road where we know zero people. Zero. We’re going to have to be SOCIAL. The introverts among you will understand this pain. We’ll have to speak to strangers, constantly, everyday, in REAL LIFE. We’re going to join all the groups we can but it’s a conundrum when you’re half introvert half extrovert like me and the hubby. I crave people, friends, contact, community, interaction, chat, but the creation of really good friends is a long process. I don’t really make instant friends unless I’m wankered in a toilet at 3 in the morning, then all bets are off and we bond over crazy men, tampon needs and vomit and we exchange numbers and can’t believe how fantastic we are. However the one’s I do make sans whiskey and wine over time - they last. Pretty much forever so far, and yes they’re all amazing, I’m riddled with them, the bastards are just not in Bedfordshire!

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

9 Weeks To Go - Orgasms and Elephants

31 Weeks Pregnant

Baby size : Coconut

How I Feel : Liberated. Excited. Sore.

Orgasmic. Glorious. Sexual. Euphoria. These are words that have soothed and placated me this week. Mothers have sought me out to help me and share stories about how labour is not all pain, fear, tubes and needles. I'm happily shocked. The way they tell it, labour sounds like a fantastically filthy racy romp through a sex party in chelsea. Yes! There are women out there who find labour to be an empowering, fierce, animalistic experience and holy shit do I want a piece of that! It sounds idyllic and too good to be true I hear you say? Well, this is straight from the horse's mouth and I love it. I adore it in fact. I've said before how I want all the horror stories and sexy details right up there in my face. Don't dress it up or down for me or wrap it in a bow of denial or optimism. If I know what I'm in for good OR bad, I can consider it, brave it and go into this labour joyful, fearless and beating my chest shouting BRING THIS SHIT (literally) ON. If I end up trembling, whimpering and beating my husband*, then that's fine too. I'll just happily take the drugs and off we go. 

I'm doing a hypnobirthing course next week so of course I think maybe I'll be one of them, all zen and mother earth. I'll meditate all the way through until I orgasm, wince gently, baby will slip calmly out and we'll all laugh and think how glorious it all was. Hey, people are telling me this is possible!!!! The cynic in me is roaring but I'm telling her to piss off and get on board the orgasmic birth train. A woman can dream can't she? Saying all that though, I have absolutely no reason to doubt these women's experiences. I really hope and sort of believe I can share them, but holy hell, if I don't come out of this feeling like Beyonce at Glastonbury, I'll be very, very upset.

Once my glorious sex birth is over, reality will of course hit home. Just for now, allow me to gloss over the fantastic experience that meeting my son will be and allow me to concentrate on the bigger issue here - knickers. I went into the snake pit this week - the biggest, cheapest High Street Store of them all. I shudder even at the thought as I’d usually rather vomit up my favourite dinner than darken it’s doorway, but I did it. I did it for one noble reason. To buy gigantic post birth knickers. After I give birth I’m told I could bleed for weeks. Hurrah! I can't even wear sanitary towels no no. I must wear specially made industrial size pads fit for a camel and waddle around with them and possibly some ice packs in my pants. No knicker of mine has ever held such mirth, and I've got a big arse to contain! It was time to bring in the big guns and god damn it I did it. These knickers are huge. Some are frilly, some are patterned in the vain hope of allowing me to maintain some sort of feminine sex appeal. But seeming as I could fit the titanic in them that might be a tad over ambitious. Bring on the ice packs and industrial pads I say. I'm ready.

Kate Middleton looked pretty good post birth right? She hid her giant knickers very well. Go girl! I’m very happy for her and I think she’s gorgeous and heavenly too, but before we all slip into whimsical adoration mode, riddle me this - if each and every one of us had designers sending us dresses, stylists, hairdressers, makeup artists and PA's to hand us frozen bags of peas for our swollen vaginas every five minutes, wouldn't we appear gorgeous, relaxed and media ready too? Of course we would! However despite all this, I don't envy her. Imagine the pressure to look that good after squeezing a cabbage through a keyhole and shitting yourself in public? Although I’m assured I won’t give a damn how I look post birth, I don’t want to look back on the pictures and see Jabba The Hut holding my baby. If I think I look like an elephant on crack, I know that no matter how special the moment is, I will edit my oompa loompa head out of those pictures, and that would be such a shame. I know that’s not a particularly ‘fuck you world media and your pressure’ thing to say. Mmmmm. The feminist in me says ‘oh get over yourself’, the subconscious media trained pony in me says ‘keep your makeup kit at the top of the hospital bag’.

When you’re pregnant, the overwhelming reaction to bump is oohs and aahs, wonder and awe. I have to admit I love it! I love the stroking, touching, minding and attention as much as any self respecting yorkshire terrier wagging their tail. Every now and then however, I meet someone who does not rub my belly, give me treats or find my bark cute. I’ve had a hand extended towards my bump accompanied by the expected ‘ooh’ sounds, when suddenly it recoils limply, like an average penis in the mens shower room with Arnold Schwarzenegger. The ‘ooh’ quickly turns to ‘eugh’, the happy face turns sucked-on-a-lemon sour and said hand is unceremoniously wrenched away. Aha! So there are some people in the world who are unsure about how natural this is! The freakish, alien nature of pregnancy is bigger to them than the beauty of it. In a weird way this makes me feel good. It’s reminding me that although my body thinks nothing of this pregnancy and mocks my mind daily for giving it as much thought as I do, that it isn’t this mundane, average experience. It IS slightly alien to me, it IS a big deal and it IS really special. Phew! Thanks for the reminder!

This week, I also succumbed to sciatica, passed my driving test and exchanged on our house. All big things I would usually drown out/celebrate with copious amounts of wine. Instead, I sat on the couch watching Grand Designs, drinking tea and ticking more things off the To Do list. Jesus. I have so much to making up to do with the wine gods when baby is out. Beware. It could get really ugly.

*The fear on his face when he read this. I'm speaking metaphorically of course....