The Pangs of New Labour


It was her first confinement since marriage about two years ago. There was much excitement in the family since she was told by the doctor about having twins.  After considerable debate the couple decided against a pre-natal scan to know the sex of the expected twins.  They preferred to await the thrill of surprise at birth.

It was a normal pregnancy with no problems for the would-be mother.  She was quite healthy, went for regular walks, and kept her shape too, until the pregnancy became more obvious, as the time for delivery drew near.  She entered the women’s hospital just two days ahead, with great expectations.

The delivery date arrived soon after the full moon day, as foretold by some relatives who claimed to know the link between birth dates and the moon; some of them had predicted the sex of the twins, too.  In the event, this date matched with that given by the gynaecologist, so there was good cause for joy.

Although the date passed with no delivery, even on the next day she had no pains. A couple of days more and the nine months were over, with no signs of delivery.  The doctor was worried, thinking of the consequences of a longer delay. He thought of a caesarean, and gave more than a hint of it to the couple.  The wife was very keen on a normal delivery.  "Alright, but not more than a day or two", the doctor said.

She felt the babies kicking in her womb, it was like the World Cup at times, she said.  The kicks and movements were getting stronger and more frequent. She awaited the pains that would give her all the joy of delivery.  But, even though the kicks got stronger, there were no signs of the goal being scored.

When the doctor came to see her that evening he brought a brand new stethoscope, of a new brand known for its extra sensitivity. He began to examine the mother-to-be and listened with great interest. He had heard voices in the womb! Never before had this happened. He kept on listening, the voices inside continued. He called another gyno, and both took turns listening.  The heartbeats of the twins were good. They were moving, and yes, they were talking!  

"I don’t want to come out today" said one little voice.

"Why, why…what is it today," asked the other.

"There is no midwife…..

"What no midwife, no vinnambu amma?"

"I heard them talking of a strike or something like that – I hope they don’t want to strike us when we come out".

"Yes, yes, I also heard about this veda varjana…nothing said about a safe delivery. I will also not come out."

Other doctors too had come in to listen to the pre-natal dialogue in the womb. The mother-to-be was getting worried at the number of doctors around her. "Why, what’s the matter, doctor?" she asked.

"You have no pain yet?" the doctor asked.

"Only very slight pain…I can feel them moving inside. Why, what’s happening, doctor?"

"Don’t worry, they will come out soon," the doctor told her and called for a nurse.

The nurse was near him when he placed the steth on the abdomen of the mother-to-be. He didn’t have to strain to hear what was said.

"Now they have a nurse….."

"A nurse? But they have not been trained in midwifery, Vinnambukama. How can a nurse take us out? I won’t go. "

"You’re right. I heard that nurses also go on strike…

"Yes, yes…the midwives and nurses are going on strike against each other.  We will wait here, it is safer."

A senior gyno was called in to listen to this pre-natal dialogue.  After a few minutes of listening he said: "We must record this. It is history. Who knows, we might win a prize if this is published in the medical journal…."

The other doctors looked surprised. They had called him for a superior medical opinion, and he was only keen on winning a prize.

The mother-to-be with slight pains heard the word "prize". "What is it, doctor? Am I getting a prize because there no pain yet… when will they come? I am worried…they are kicking away, both are trying to score...what is happening?

"Don’t worry, everything will be alright – just relax" the doctor said.

"But shouldn’t I give a push or two" she asked. That is what my mother told me..."

"Your mother was right. But there is no need for any pushing yet. We will wait for some more pain."

The doctors decided to induce pain…It did not take long for the pain to be felt… "Now give a push...yes push hard" the nurse said.

Inside the womb the twins were shocked at what was happening. Their mother was pushing them out…and outside…there was a nurse who had no training in   midwifery or child delivery, and she could go on strike at any moment, too. They tried to resist the pushes… but it was difficult.  "I heard it said that the nurses used to shut the door to the midwives…who knows they might shut some door on us" said one twin.

The other twin had a different worry…"Look we are now surrounded by doctors… they are also known to go on strike at the drop of a steth or something…What kind of delivery is this. We want to go out to a pleasant world, not to a strike ridden place where, nurses, midwives and doctors seem to have more interest in strikes than in us."

As the first one was just coming out, the other shouted and tried to tell the mother to stop pushing. That was useless.  They were both out soon. They looked around and saw the world of free health care for all.

There was no midwife in sight. The nurses had gone out for a protest meeting. There were only doctors in the labour room.  And, they were also talking about some protest strike the next day.

One of the twins told the other: "I think it is we who deserve to get that prize, for coming out to a world like this".

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