After Birth | The Monologues

As part of Co:LAB Festival 2018

By Nicola Schofield

All text copyright of Nicola Schofield, Highlight Collective


If I was your bathroom you’d have called a plumber by now.

I’m leaking. Every which way.

I made a joke about it yesterday and then I cried.

It’s just not what you think, you know?

All I’d kept thinking about was birth and getting through that. And I got through that.

And to be honest after that I didn’t think I’d be scared to poo.

I thought after that I’d be happy to climb a mountain.

Now I’m scared to poo.

The baby can’t stop but I’ve not been since – since during labour. That was – grim.

I imagined this bundle in my arms.

Soft cheeks. The baby smell. Talc.

No one uses talc but it’s what you imagine.

And it’s all true. Soft cheeks. The baby smell.

But so is all this other stuff no one warned me about.

And I wonder would I warn someone?


The terror

Are the endless tasks to keep the dark thoughts at bay?

The terror of what might happen to you.

The physicality of your presence.

At bath time you are at your most vulnerable, my mind thinks of children more vulnerable than you.

I think of abuse, neglect as I bathe you, wash your hair

This precious bath time sees my mind swim in muck.

How others would look at your body.

Thoughts that mean I rush to wrap a towel around you. Hide your nakedness

I smile at your dad, your grandparents when the ritual of bath time is shared.

What would they think if they knew?

They see your light so why can I only see the darkness that surrounds you?

And I am your security blanket against all of this.


I want to go. But –

I make a decision that I’m not going to lie.

When she comes in I give it back.

I stare at my daughter while the Health Visitor reads it.

Yes she says. According to this you – depression she says. That they can help. I try to listen to her but: I feel strange, you know?

She talks about what we’re going to do next. And when I leave there is a plan.

I take my daughter for a walk. She falls asleep. So I get a coffee and tell my husband. And he’s glad. Not the – I mean – getting help. He says he’s proud of me. And I cry again.

There’s a phone call. It was part of the plan. And they have to ask me stuff. Have I wanted to harm myself? Harm others? Have I ever been a victim of abuse or violence? Ever been involved with social services?

I feel sick in my throat. What have I got us involved with?

But I tell the truth. And I swallow the fear down. And find myself saying yes. I’ll go to this group.

I’ve been to the first one now. It’s at a children’s centre.

I left her with my parents. Said I had a meeting at work about when I go back. They looked so happy when I left them. Mum said to enjoy it, a break.

I just nodded – how do I tell her?

There’s 5 of us in the group.

I’m nervous what to say. If they’ll be judging me, you know? The staff.

Then this mum says when she’s in the park she worries her baby will be kidnapped.

Another says she finds it hard to leave the house.

So then we don’t stop talking. Like it’s spilling out of us. I feel relief.

Cause it’s lonely sometimes.

The group finishes and we so we start to leave. Some have their babies in the crèche.

I sit in the car.

I feel a bit lighter. I’ll go again next week.

It’s not just me.

It’s not just me, is it?