New Times,
New Thinking.

  1. Election 2024
19 November 2015

When my child was born I got so high on morphine that I started talking about risotto

I looked at the baby, recited some Auden at him, decided he could look after himself, and asked for a book.

By Tanya Gold

August 2013: the heatwave. Ice was my pregnancy food, which I ate out of buckets; my body was a stranger. Apart from a column in the Guardian, in which I pondered my own death in childbirth, I made no plans, read no books.

I went to be induced. I took my laptop because I thought I might write a column. But I did not feel like writing a column.

In the high-dependency ward (for women too column-dependent to have children before 39, and too fat to do it safely) I realised I could get morphine if I made sad faces and lied about the pain.

I have not had a drink for 13 years, for reasons that will soon become obvious. I did so much morphine, I almost forgot I was pregnant until people reminded me. This annoyed me. It contaminated my drug dream. I wanted to do morphine and never come back.

I got an epidural. It failed. I got a spinal block. I couldn’t feel anything below my tits and I seriously feared I would never feel my legs again. They told me to push but I couldn’t feel my body. So I made faces designed to make people think I was pushing.

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU

I was so high that when two hot doctors came in, and I was in the stirrups pretending to push, I screamed: “Hi!” I wasn’t quite high enough to attempt to seduce them – what would be the point, during childbirth? – but I could have. They could have been mine.

When the emergency C-section came, they were on to me. “You will tell me when you can’t feel the pain, won’t you?” the anaesthetist asked. Ha! Bollocks I will. When my child was born – I mean removed – I was so high I was talking about risotto. I looked at the baby, recited some Auden at him, decided he could look after himself, and asked for a book. I was chasing my high across the sky.

The crash: the next day, a nurse asked me if, when in labour, I had told my husband I didn’t love him. No, I said, I told him I’d never loved him. Then I began to vomit shit. This is called paralytic ileus; my bowel had stopped working, possibly as a result of the C-section, but probably because of the morphine. The doctor did not believe in the pain at first; she offered me Gaviscon, which I vomited, cinematically, over myself.

Then she did believe me, and consoled me by saying Caitlin Moran had also had paralytic ileus, and written very wittily about it. I hope you’re a better doctor than literary critic, I wanted to say, but didn’t.

She didn’t return, so I took my shit vomit to the desk. They put me in a high-dependency ward. The chief surgeon called with his crocodile of students to gawp at my shit vomit. There, after I had done a fart, which meant I would live, I became delighted with my condition. I am a hack, and my body had produced a column!

Suzanne Moore is away

Content from our partners
Peatlands are nature's unsung climate warriors
How the apprenticeship levy helps small businesses to transform their workforce
How to reform the apprenticeship levy

This article appears in the 18 Nov 2015 issue of the New Statesman, The age of terror