Lots of people said I was brave to be so public about my pregnancy and the problems I had with it. Lots of people said I was brave to broadcast a series on pregnancy using my own as a spring board. Lots of people said I was brave (and or mad) to have a reporter in with my husband and me for the birth of our baby. However, I didn’t feel brave (or mad). I felt privileged and responsible and proud.
In my position as a BBC presenter I felt it was wholly necessary to open up about the issues women face in pregnancy and beyond. Issues that people (men and women) are afraid to talk about for fear of being judged or because people are scared of words like ‘vagina’!
In fact, one of the battles I faced during the series was how to refer to ‘lady bits’… Because ‘we’ didn’t want to put people ‘off their tea’. This editorial conversation arose because of the words ‘vaginal delivery’. I mean, come on…. what else should I refer to it as? A foof delivery? A fairy delivery? A nunny delivery? The natural way? Front bottom delivery? The fact that we had to be careful about how I referred to my body parts in a piece about giving birth because people might be offended baffled me! It also made me want to say ‘vagina vagina vagina’ over and over again on air! Needless to say I didn’t! Anyway, my point is that this sort of ‘barrier’ is part of the reason I decided to do it. I suppose I felt as though I had some sort of duty, a responsibility to make public a scientific, physical and most importantly, emotional journey that so many of us go through… or endure or maybe even enjoy!?
Using the word privileged always freaks me out a bit. I think it sometimes sounds a bit pretentious but in this scenario it’s the only word that fits! I had a huge platform to broadcast from, and access to so many individuals and professionals, how could I not use this fantastic opportunity to bring, often hushed up issues, into the main stream media. For example, my consultant says I have PTSD from the birth of my first child, and even after broadcasting the series I find this hard to repeat to people. Although I’ve accepted it, I don’t like to tell people in case I’m seen as weak. But it’s not a weakness, it’s a reaction to a horrendous and scary situation in which I felt as though I had very little control over what was happening to my body and my unborn child. If my series helps just one person realise they really are not alone, and it’s ok to freak out and cry and feel frustrated and scared, then I have done a good job.
During the pregnancy and therefore the series I also had to make the decision of whether or not to have a planned c-section. Because of various problems with my first 2 deliveries it was advised that an operation was the best way to deliver Angus. However, I wanted a vaginal delivery and found this decision extremely difficult to make. I shared my thoughts with my listeners because I know there are other women facing the same fears and dilemmas. I cried on air, lots of times, but you know what? It felt normal and right to show my true feelings… and not to rationalise my emotions or put distance between Emma the pregnant mum and Emma the broadcaster. It was raw, unedited emotion. It was real and it is how many women feel.
In the end, and on reflection, mixed up in all the happiness, the stress, the saggy skin, tears and love I also feel pride.
I’m proud of myself for taking on such a huge issue publicly and allowing my audience to share such a special moment. I’m proud of my husband for being so open to the idea, for supporting me and for being part of the report. I’m also proud of my managers at the BBC for allowing me to see the project through to the end despite resistance from some colleagues. I’m also incredibly proud and thankful for the amazing job my colleague and friend Sian Hall did on reporting on THE MOMENT! She was so discreet, and so professional, yet warm and human! She captured the perfect mix of emotions! Thank you Sian for giving me such a wonderful keepsake! A moment in my life I will never forget and of course for taking it all in your stride.