Bonding, it tends to be mum's, naturally enough, who make that first connection. It makes sense when you think of it. They are, the mum's that is, carrying that little package within them. Human life growing inside. Nine months of nature nurturing an infant in the comfort of the womb. Blood and heartbeats whooshing and thrumming as one. Two lives intertwined. Food and liquid flowing from one into another. If I believed in miracles then this would be top of the list.
I recall Jasmine falling pregnant and my feeling godlike. It was almost as though my part in the process, much like how many males view their genitalia, was massive. In fact. neither was true in my case. I did what I did with the little I have got then sat back smug and satisfied. It was the mother in the whole deal that took charge of matters - mother nature.
I have never understood feminism yet conversely have been a life-long supporter of women's liberation and gender equality. Feminism strikes me as being like Atheism, a violent reaction to something in itself unpleasant and stupid. There is no question in my mind as to whether women are equal or not. Of course, they are. Not just on a superficial level founded on courtesy but in every respect. Apart from our physical differences, intellectually and emotionally we are the same. I am a fine example of the crap spoken by sexist males who suggest men are more logical, rational and practical. If that is the governing issue in their warped minds then call me Mary. I am none of those things. And besides, I do not have my life punctuated by blood and I sure as hell wouldn't, even if I could, give birth.
I spent many an hour talking to my unborn child. I would press my mouth firmly against my wife's belly and do what I do even now, talk a load of nonsense. Of course, we had no idea of our child's gender hence I called the girl who would bless our lives before we had met - Thumbscrew. After her glorious birth, she was named Emily. Both names are still used although I invariably still call her Thumbscrew. Emily Thumbscrew.
Jasmine simply liked the name Emily but I had my own reasons - Syd Barret and The Pink Floyd.
"Soon after dark Emily Cries, Ah Ooh,
Gazing at trees in sorrow hardly a sound till tomorrow"
Why Thumbscrew? Goodness alone knows. Perhaps my love of Frank Zappa who seemed to like unusual names or maybe just my own bizarre sense of humour. Whatever, Thumbscrew it was and Thumbscrew it still is.
Even if I did act the stereotypical male when Tweezil (Grace) was born many years later, on 22nd August 1983, a Monday, the day Thumbscrew entered our world, I was pretty cool. Well, I had no need to panic as Jasmine was calm, collected and very much in control. And of course, I had never been involved with, let alone seen, birth before.
I don't remember much about the drive to Rochford Hospital (now a set of apartments) but I do remember the room we were in and the midwife. The room was typical of the style used for hospitals built in the 1920's. Formerly, the hospital had been a poorhouse infirmary and the ghosts of its history lingered. Incidentally, it was here I was first admitted in 1957/1958 with diabetes.
The midwife was blonde. Her hair was cut in a long bob. I see her now bending down to examine Jasmine's 'naughty bits.' The midwife's timing was crap for it was at that precise moment Jasmine's waters broke propelling blood and stuff all over the midwife's hair and face. Pregnancy, birth even, turned to pantomime. It was funny then, even as the lady laughed as she wiped her face and cleaned her hair as best she could. Then it was down to the serious business of Jasmine panting like a dog and pushing when instructed.
My mum, always one with an opinion, said Jasmine gave birth 'like shelling peas.' By this, she meant my wife's deliveries were speedy. Not sure if Jasmine had much say in how fast or slow my kids arrived. Nature held all the cards and besides, Emily has never been one to hang around. She didn't fly out of my wife's open legs but she most certainly came out with a sense of urgency.
I see it now in freeze-frame motion. First the head with its tiny nose pointing down toward Jasmine's anus. The same head turning as shoulders popped out. Shoulders hunched up to form a torpedo-like shape. Then an abrupt slide and slap as arms, laid at the babies side followed by knees and legs and the tiniest of feet with the sweetest of toes came out of one world into the chill welcome of my world.
My head was literally spinning. I was trying to take in all I had witnessed. The midwife calmly cleaned the infant before weighing her. Five pounds thirteen ounces. It was eight forty-seven. I was a dad. Then the midwife placed the baby in MY arms. Man alive what a moment! What a flood of feelings hit me. It was like having David Bowie along with the four Beatles witness my just having had sex with seventeen gorgeous women. I was in a state of sheer bliss, of unexpected ecstasy. It was in fact, at that time, the best moment of my life. The first of four.
Laid in my arms at that time was surely the best-looking of babies ever born. Her siblings might argue that point.
She's not half bad even now.
Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.