We are off to a wedding this weekend. The first of three weddings during this pregnancy. The first of three tent like outfits, three attempts not to look like an out of control beach ball on the dance floor, three evenings of sober conversation with mega drunk people, but also three toddler free weekends. Friends will be there with their children, on high alert during the ceremony, chasing round the grounds whilst everyone else quaffs fizz and guzzles miniature chicken satays. They will be sharing their dessert, being cajoled into dancing to Gangnam Style at 6pm, leaving by 9pm, and generally having a bit of a rubbish time. OK, perhaps not rubbish, but definitely different to the pre-parenting wedding guest experience. My experience is likely to be somewhere in the middle. I won’t be quaffing fizz but do plan to eat copious amounts of mini chicken satays, and, what is more, I will at least be able to sit down for more than three minutes, which is a very exciting prospect. The lack of fizz is now something I am used to after one and a half pregnancies and fifteen months of breastfeeding, so I’m a more resilient sober person than I once was. My first sober wedding (other than those attended as a child of course), was about four months into my first pregnancy. We were far enough along to be “out” (both in terms of telling people and my belly), but not far enough along to be completely au fait with the not drinking at social functions thing, which I’m sure takes some adjusting to for many of us thirty something women. Not that I used to need a drink to have a good time, but it definitely helped. Despite dreading my first non-intoxicated nuptials, I actually had a brilliant time. It was a Liverpool wedding, as is the one this weekend, and it was lovely to catch up with friends, to enjoy a posh day out in lovely surroundings, to eat delicious food, dance, and have fun. And for most of the day I barely noticed that I wasn’t drinking. However, this does tend to become more apparent towards the business end of the evening. Around 12am (I know, get me, party animal), I had a very in depth conversation with one of my husband’s friends about the birth of his child. Like most conversations any pregnant woman has about birth, this was not instigated by me. He was pretty smashed by that point and that, teamed with loud background music and a very strong Scouse accent, meant that I couldn’t catch everything he was saying. This was probably for the best given what I did gather from his animated gestures and facial expressions and the odd audible phrase: “Got to the ozzy… shitt’n it lich… needed a blewdy bevvy… blewdy blewd bath… lich Sav’n Private Ryan…”. I also managed to catch a few choice phrases like: “ blewdy brutal”, “proper scary lich”, and “first ‘alf in Istanbul” (a reference to the famous 2005 Champions League final where Liverpool went 3-0 down against AC Milan before half time — presumably an analogy about how very tough it had been for him). Although I’m sure he was entirely well meaning, this was probably a conversation I didn’t need to have. It’s amazing how many people feel the need to share their negative experiences of birth with you when you are pregnant and how unhelpful this can be. Even when not assisted by background noise and unintelligible diction, I have tried to tune out most of these conversations, either by thinking about cheese, or, if I do actually have to listen, by putting the information firmly in context. There are no shortage of birth horror stories out there but it’s so important to remember that every birth is unique and many people have very positive births too. Often those people are less inclined to share this, perhaps because society expects us to have a rough time and they feel either guilty or judged by those less positive; or because it’s the people who do have a rough time who actually need some way to process it. There are lots of real and inspiring birth stories on the LushTums website, which might be useful to read if you are in the right headspace. No matter what your experience, it is really healthy to talk about birth, both before and after your own, whenever and however it feels useful to you. But in a similar way to how you got into the whole mess in the first place it should also be on your own terms and with another consenting adult. Prior to your first experience of birth, when everything feels so very unknown and uncertain, it’s also really helpful to remember that the final outcome will be pretty amazing. Rather like Liverpool’s 2005 Champions League run, which ended in a second half three goal come back and a win on penalties, finally getting the beautiful baby you have been waiting for for nine months is incredible, no matter how it ends up happening.