The Feisty one was born on 17th December, so Christmas that year was a little hazy. In fact, there is very little I can remember of it apart from mastitis, trying to buy drugs and the great collapse (more of that later). In the spirit of Christmas, I’ll spare you the details of the former. I should tell you that she was born at home, in a screaming hurry (and nothing has changed since) and my parents were there, supposedly to look after the Wiggy One, but as he remained blissfully snoring throughout (nothing changed there either), Dad resigned himself to reading in a far corner of the house, while my Mother paced the carpet outside the bedroom and located lost Midwives wandering the halls.
The drugs in question were over the counter painkillers and lots of them. However, in the UK, in an effort to reduce non-prescription drug overdoses, stores are forbidden to sell more than 16 500mg tablets to a customer in one transaction unless sanctioned by a pharmacist. For some mysterious hormone-fueled reason, I decided that I needed some fresh air, so we loaded myself, my mother, a four year old and a day old baby into the car and set off for Milford Docks. Not necessarily the most picturesque location, but it did have the benefit of a both Tesco and Boots stores, so I could slip in a bit of Christmas grocery and gift shopping. Predictably, halfway into the expedition, the postpartum euphoria wore off and pain and reality kicked in. I needed pain relief, and while it was there, I intended to buy in bulk, simply because having experienced the holiday shopping once, I had no intention of repeating the experience until well into the New Year.
You have to give the pharmacist credit for vigilance. I waited my turn slumped semi-conscious in a chair, while my (four year old) son helpfully approached the counter to order on my behalf. The pharmacist took one look at my unwashed hair, disheveled clothing and glazed expression and obviously decided that I had a more sinister purpose for the drugs than mere pain relief. Either I was suicidal or homicidal, and he needed more information before deciding which. I was sternly summoned to the counter from my distant chair, and he spent the considerable time it took me to hobble over rehearsing his ‘Drugs are not to be Trifled With’ lecture and finding the number for the Samaritans.
When I finally reached the counter, his demeanor was frosty. He obviously felt that not only were my intentions dubious, but I was shamelessly dragging a small boy into my evil plan.
“What do you want this many for?” he asked in icy tones.
“I had a baby yesterday”
At this, his eyes bulged somewhat, and he began frantically scanning the store to see just where I had dumped the baby. He didn’t have to look far, because my mother was toting a newborn Feisty One around like she was the new Messiah, and treating anyone showing interest to a full rundown of the entire birth experience. Spotting the pharmacist looking in her direction, she mistook amazement for interest and hurried over to present the baby to be worshipped and give him a minute by minute account of the birth story. With repeats of the good bits.
I got my drugs with no further comment, but I’ve never been sure whether it was the recent birth or the manic parent that tipped the scales in my favor. All I can tell you is that Wise Men come in all shapes and sizes.
Happy Christmas to One and All.