I have been meaning to write this post for a while but I just couldn’t come up with the right title. After months of debate I have decided to call it exactly as it is. Yes, my waters broke in Clarks. Clarks at Cheshire Oaks to be precise. Right in front of where the children sit to have their feet measured in fact. It is a day that I will always remember, but for reasons that make me smile and shudder in equal measure.
You see, giving birth in Clarks was never part of my birthing plan. Not that I have anything against Clarks. Being caught out in public at all was generally not part of the plan. And yet the day had started off so well. I had 10 days to go until my due date, I had left work, the sun was shining and I was busy nesting. I had taken my time getting ready, met a friend for lunch, and then driven over to Cheshire Oaks with my Mum to pick up a delivery of bedding from Mamas and Papas. Clarks is close-by and Mum has never been able to walk past one without nipping in to find a bargain. Even when we were young and money was tight we always had Clarks shoes for school – whether we wanted them or not. Normally they are pretty unremarkable occasions, but this particular day baby H had other ideas.
Mum had raced off down one aisle whilst I wandered off down another. I wasn’t really looking at anything in particular, my feet were so swollen that only flip-flops fitted me. As I sashayed down the aisle in my maxi dress I became aware of the fabric sticking to my legs. As I slowly looked down I noticed a stream of water down my front and “water” starting to pool around my feet. I looked up and met the eyes of a woman having her daughters feet measured. In absolute silence I very slowly looked down again, trying to make sense of what was happening. When I looked up she was right in front of me – eyeballing me – and calmly asking me if I was with anyone. Whilst she set off to find my mum I sat down hoping to cover what was now quite a substantial puddle with my maxi dress, warning others not to slip on….well what do you call it?? A puddle? Water? Bodily fluids?
Where was the warning? Where was the “pop”? I had read that the likelihood of a “gush” was rare. Typically it was happening to me! Surely I couldn’t be about to give birth in Clarks!?!? I summoned a staff member over and in a hushed voice let them know what was happening. My attempts to keep things low-key were blown out of the water when she shrieked at mega decibels “OH MY GOD THIS NEVER HAPPENS”. And then my mum turned up realised what was happening and shouted “JESUS CHRIST” at the top of her voice so that if people hadn’t realised there was anything going on, then they did now. Quite a crowd was gathering.
By this time I was without doubt the calmest person in the shop. The next sequence of events took place in almost a dreamlike manner. Something I have never experienced before or since. I asked to use the toilet, believing that if I went to the toilet it would stop – yes, yes I now know how ridiculous this sounds but all of this was new to me. I left a trail across the shop as I tried and failed to use my dress as a sponge, and was guided through the store room and past the staff room where the male staff were on break. I can still see them shuffling around trying not to meet my eye, and considering whether they still had an appetite left to finish off their butties.
I sat on the loo for what seemed like an uncomfortably long time – but was probably only minutes – as I tried to hatch a plan of action of how to get home quickly, and also how to exit the shop in a stealth like manner so as not to attract any more attention. Tissues just weren’t stemming the flow. By this time my dress was drenched and so I asked for some plastic bags to sit on for in the car as I didn’t want to ruin the cloth interior. Practical hey. I was expecting a couple of 5p carrier bags, so perhaps this is a measure of how bad I was, as they handed me the industrial plastic wrapping that goes around crates of shoes when they get delivered!
And with that I was ready to take my leave. Well, nearly ready. Because whilst I was on the toilet another thought had popped in to my head….I mean lets cut to the chase as it is what you are wondering isn’t it……did I get any free shoes? Disappointingly as it turns out the answer was no. I wasn’t entitled to a thing. But a very well informed and cheery assistant (irritatingly so) did let me know that if I wandered down to Sainsbury’s I could claim they had broken there and be entitled to nappies for a year. Clearly said by someone who had never been in my predicament!
And with that I was on my way – home that is, not to Sainsbury’s – and the rest they say is history.
Harry’s Honest Mummy x