Tuesday, 23 December 2014

The Best Christmas Gift

Is not being in hospital.

I've never really been (touch wood) a person with extensive experience of hospitals, sickness or ill health. Oh sure, I've done stupid things and got mended and sent away again, or toddled off to get jabbed and poked as required (travel injections, smear tests etc). But I've never actually been properly unwell.

Until I ended up in A and E, six months pregnant with a pulse of 154 bpm at 1am, a long way from home after a work event, freaked out and frightened and feeling terrible/terrified in equal measure. The lovely staff wanted to admit me, I wanted to go home. We compromised- I saw my equally brilliant GP later in the day and spent a week in bed with what I can only describe as the most god awful achy flu. The next time someone with a cough and sore throat tells me they have flu I'll flip. Getting out of bed to get a drink of water left me exhausted and in pain, it was that ridiculous. I had more blood tests later in the week, and noises were made about other more serious underlying problems. The tests for the serious scary things were clear, and the accompanying threat of being admitted to hospital was lifted, and I'm feeling better all round.

The whole experience has underlined something I've blogged about before, a pet hate of being an archaeologist. When people say, oh, don't you wish you lived in the Etruscan period? The answer is no. Not for a moment. Not for a second. I live in a country with a stretched but at heart strong health care service, which can whip up an x-ray, ECG, heart trace, white blood cell count in the middle of the night. Which can tell me that my galloping heart won't hurt the adored little parasite that is living in my lower abdomen. Thank Tinia, Menrva and the rest of the Etruscan pantheon for that.

And Merry Christmas to you too. More archaeology and less moaning in 2015. Promise.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Things they don't tell you about being pregnant (and an archaeologist)

Foetal skeleton from Culture 24. Poor little scooch.

 1) That everyone will have an opinion on the size of your stomach. "Ooooh, you're so tiny! You don't even look pregnant." "Oh my GOD, you look so fat today." All these people mean well, so you have to smile along. I can't help but think though, is there any other point when it's ok to screech about someone's abdomen to their face? Or any other part of their anatomy? "Look at that spot! Wow, it's so red and bulgy today, you look like pus is going to leap out of your chin." "Oh, love, you should really lay off the biscuits if you want to wear those shorts." You just wouldn't, would you.

2) People will try and touch your stomach unless your f*** off face is strong enough to repel them. Practice in the mirror, so that it comes naturally.

3) You will suddenly have a terrifyingly clear sense of perspective about archaeology and its place in the world, which is distinctly inferior to the small person growing inside you, and who is seemingly having a rave that involves doing "bigfish-littlefish-cardboard box" against your bladder. Dead people and their stuff are cool and all, but they can't enforce 50 toilet visits per day.

4) You also have a terrifying sense of your own utter normality- thousands, millions of women have felt those wriggles, and faced up to the fact that this thing is really going to have to come out of there. Most of them without any pain relief at all. You're not special, you're just another piece of human reproduction. Yeah!

5) That said, I do wonder about Etruscan childbirth. I'm guessing that those ladies had some trippy breathing exercises going down. Or shrooms. Seriously, though, that bit of pot from Poggio Colla has new meaning for the newly rotund me.

6) Apparently it's weird to cheerily announce to your midwife that you fancy squatting through labour, because you've regularly done 8 hour stints in that position before and nothing bad happened.And to then tell her that baby has already done a day of work on site in Italy, just at the point it was implanting and most vulnerable (whoops), in spite of your husband's pained expression.

7) You will suddenly post on your blog again, after an absence of almost six months. SIX chuffing months. Apologies, anyone who still checks in and reads this mass of ramblings. Apparently 40 of you did on the 23rd November. I suspect maternity leave (from end of January) may be good for blog output. But not necessarily for blog content and/or quality. You've been warned.