I recently had the luck to go away for a night with a couple of friends of mine.  All of us busy working mums so the arranging of this luxury was not the most simple of tasks. Other halves had to make sure they could be certain places at certain times, play dates had to be arranged so children would not be stranded at school, multiple packing of multiple suitcases had to be undertaken as well as making sure that school bags had everything that was needed for the next two days so that afore mentioned other halves would have no reason to berate us for taking this much deserved break. However, eventually off we set, our guilt at leaving our children firmly under control (kissing them until I had to be physically removed does not count!) and very much looking forward to our road trip.

We had booked ourselves into a hotel for one night with bed, breakfast, dinner and luxury spa treatments thrown in (I know, not exactly the true definition of ‘road trip’!) All of us giddy with the knowledge that for the next 24 hours we did not have to cook for anyone, clear up after anyone, act as referee for pointless arguments or worry about anything other than how we were going to fit in a cream tea between everyone’s massages.

And, Dear Reader, it was fantastic. I can honestly say I have never been so relaxed in my life – I was definitely slurring my words after the massage and, unless the incense had been infused with pure alcohol, I put it down to the fact that I was not rushing around like a headless chicken for once in my hectic life. We all agreed that this was something we should do on a regular basis and it was bound to make us better mothers/wives/friends if we gave ourselves that much needed ‘me’ time.

But then it went slightly pear shaped! We set off on our homeward journey feeling chilled, well fed and rejuvenated and very much looking forward to seeing our loved ones (funny how a night away can make your little monsters seem like angels!). The journey should have taken us one and a half hours max ……. it took us five and half hours!!!!!!!!! There was pile up after pile up followed by road works and because we had been on the road for so long we went hurtling (I use the word ironically, you understand) head first into Friday rush hour traffic. Ordinarily this would not have been a problem. I am sure we would have sung along to the radio, continued our girly chats and played ‘if so and so and so and so were the last men on earth…..’ However, busting to go to the toilet for four and half hours of the journey with literally NO SERVICE STATIONS anywhere along the route was no laughing matter.

I have never been so desperate! To make matters worse I was driving so I could not even cross my legs.  At one point I decided that my only option was to go on the hard shoulder. I pulled over, got everyone else out of the car (never let it be said that in times of trouble, Dear Reader, I forget all about road safety) and desperately looked around for somewhere private to squat. I should explain at this point that I get SEVERE stage fright when it comes to going to the loo (You may laugh but Ina May Gaskin refers to this very real, physiological occurance as shincter law – more of which later!). I have never been one to go to the toilet with a girlfriend because I am paralysed at the thought they can hear what I am doing.  It took me several attempts to learn to go with my children watching and that was only because baby twins left on their own tend to cause quite a bit of damage! So quite how I thought I would be able to relieve myself on the hard shoulder of the M25 with cars crawling by (remember we were in a traffic jam – so more chance to cop an eyeful!) I don’t know. Needless to say it just was not possible and demanded everyone get back in the car. What must I have looked like?  This mad eyed woman crying hysterically on the hard shoulder whilst clutching an empty water bottle and a packet of baby wipes!!!

After pootling along for another two and half hours, by which time my friends also really needed to go but had wisely decided to keep their discomfort to themselves, we were finally able to pull off the M25 and into the nearest place likely to contain a toilet.  Now, not only do I suffer from stage fright but I am also a toilet snob. I scout out the toilets as soon as I arrive anywhere and places are either deemed ‘OK for Dani’ or ‘not OK for Dani’ based on their facilities. For example, the toilets in certain cinemas – not OK for Dani. Toilets in certain chain restaurants – not OK for Dani. However toilets in the Grove Hotel in Watford – most definitely OK for Dani. Never let it be said I have high standards, but you get the picture. Now it so happened that the first place we saw was a pub. A pretty grotty one at that and not one that I would normally have been seen frequenting (OK, OK I am a snob – what can I say?) however, any port in a storm and they did seem pretty chuffed with the ostrich burgers that apparently they now had available. We rushed in, trying to blend in with the locals – which is not easy when bent over double and doing a sort of cross legged shuffle – and burst into the, surprisingly, tastefully decorated toilets. At last, a private cubicle with a seat and everything!  I shut the door, hastily undid my belt, sat down….. .and remembered that on the other side of the door were my two friends who would undoubtedly be able to hear what I was doing. Inevitably, I froze, I couldn’t do it (again – sphincter law!). Desperation started to kick in until, luckily my friends made me laugh at the ridiculous situation and I relaxed enough to…………Bliss – better than any massage I have ever had!!!

How does the tale of my needing the toilet tie in with labour and birth, you might ask?  Well, Dear Reader, our journey was just like labour – stick with me on this one. Like labour, I started off having a pre-conceived idea of how long it was going to take. Like labour, when things started to get a bit uncomfortable I thought there was no point in totally giving in to the dis-comfort as it was likely I still had a way to go. Like labour, there came a point when I did not think I could take it any more and reached an all time low.  Like labour, no matter how much I wanted to release what was being held inside my body, it wasn’t going to happen until I felt safe and secure and relaxed (that’s the sphincter law bit!!!). And just like labour, I had the vital support of people I felt safe with who enabled me to relax and let nature takes it’s course. Support and remaining calm and relaxed are the two most important elements of an empowered labour and, who knows, after it is all over you may have an insatiable appetite for an ostrich burger!!!

For information on the Natal Hypnotherapy™ hypnobirthing courses I run in Hertfordshire and Middlesex please feel free to contact me dani@mamaserene.co.uk or check out dates and information at www.mamaserene.co.uk  Remember, there is a 15% discount on any of the group courses if you book before 31st October 2013

Picture credit: © Odm|Dreamstime Stock Photos

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