‘Cheeky little monkey’ rings out quite often in the homes of the pregnant.
Or at least it does if our home is anything to go by.
We’ve projected a playful persona upon this child. A mischievous wee bugger, scurrying from one side of the belly to the other, delightfully lodging its feet between the ribs of its host, happily toying with the idea of snapping a couple.
Every kick is interpreted as a spirited wink to the outside world, each head butt to the cervical canal a merry nod of its cap in our direction, and all occurrences of an internal organ being trod on is merely an impish wave.
We’ve mentally made this child into a rogue. A scut. A tease. Everyone does, while of course this could be complete and utter nonsense.
What if digging a heel into a bladder is the kid telling us to stop singing, or each head-first dive for the emergency exit is its way of telling us that there is a dreadful smell in there, or each fist pumped into the uterine wall is a demand for the immediate removal of Mugabe.
What if the child is a disgruntled old thing? A grump in a bump. A foetal Victor (or Victoria) Meldrew, constantly displeased with everything around it.
Simply put, we don’t know what it’s thinking, or what its bursts of activity mean. What we interpret as a pixie-like dance with an umbilical chord along to the top 40 chart countdown may in fact be the child freaking out, swinging its lifeline around its head in uncontrollable rage, like a nine iron in the paws of a pro golfer’s discontented spouse.
What makes us force a happy personality on a human who dines on their own urine and whose greatest ability is jabbing itself in the face with a fist it doesn’t know it has?
I believe we are extremely lucky that babies can’t talk, otherwise we’d be witnessing a barrage of abuse in delivery rooms and birthing centres the entire world over. We’d be inundated with complaints of being poked and pushed and prodded into uncomfortable places, being ridiculed over the weight it was carrying, cramped conditions, dreadful food, hideously uncomfortable journeys, late arrivals, and reaching the other side without a stitch of clothing.
They would reveal to us the horrifying truth that pregnancy and birth is in fact a service provided by Ryanair, a fact that we as a civilisation are just not ready to cope with.