We’re having a baby.
This has been the soundtrack to my last three-and-a-bit months. Occasionally it’s said out loud to delighted friends and family but mostly just inside my head. Over and over and over again. And it’s this internal, four-word monologue that my wife interrupts while we’re sat on the train.
“I want to show you something in Stylist” she says pulling a crumpled magazine from her handbag.
Now, this is the kind of statement that usually ends up with me taking her on a spa weekend. Or rather, me pretending to consider taking her on a spa weekend for as long as it takes to change the conversation. “That sounds lovely, darling… ooh look, a pigeon!” But it seems my wife has got a surprise in store, and not for the first time lately.
“They’re looking for an expectant father,” she says. “To write a regular column.”
There were a number of things I’d been expecting until recently. I’d been expecting to go on a few more holidays. I’d been expecting to buy some more overpriced Danish furniture. I’d been expecting to fall asleep in a few more minicabs. I’d been expecting, basically, to wait a little longer. And now I was expecting. Which was, to say the least, unexpected.
It was last December when we first realised we’d come back from our Mexican honeymoon with more than a poncho and bottle of tequila to show for it. We’re having a baby. It scarcely seems real now, but at the time that little blue line on the shop-bought pregnancy test was a medical impossibility of biblical proportions. We couldn’t be having a baby. We weren’t trying.
It scarcely seems real now, but at the time that little blue line on the shop-bought pregnancy test was a medical impossibility of biblical proportions.
Over time of course, the evidence became indisputable; the midnight trips to the toilet, the swelling breasts and then, just over a month ago, the twelve-week scan. Not since I was nine years old, discovering an arty foreign film with an ambivalent approach to clothing, has as fuzzy black and white image captured my attention so vividly. We’re having a baby. I could see its little legs, little arms, little head. I could hear its little heartbeat, pounding away as quickly as my own. We’re having a baby.
Since then, twelve weeks has become nineteen. The lump in my throat is now a bump in her belly. The wardrobe is filling up with strange, stretchy new clothes. And we can’t walk past another couple’s pram without figuratively kicking the tires. Just figuratively, honest. Even more tellingly, my wife seems to have lost her mind.
“You want me to write about your pregnancy?” I ask, dumbfounded. “About your cravings? About your flatulence? About your mood swings?”
“I’m not having mood swings,” she says, her mood swinging perceptibly. “And it’s supposed to be about you, not me.”
I promise to give it some thought in the hope that she’ll lose interest. Surprisingly though, it’s a promise I keep. We’ve already started taking photos of the bump, so why not document everything? As she gets bigger and bigger will I start growing as well? Growing up, even?
Naturally I still have concerns. I mean, just how honest should I be? Documenting the pregnancy is one thing, but doing so in public is another entirely. My wife obviously isn’t bothered, but will she be so supportive if I start writing about stretch marks? (You can barely see them, darling.) Will it affect our relationship? And what of the miracle child? The little blighter hasn’t even entered the world yet, let alone set up a Facebook page, and already its privacy is being invaded. These are undeniably important questions that demand proper consideration and genuine soul-searching. Or I could just ignore them and see what happens, either way.
I’m still holding the magazine as our train pulls into the station. My wife collects her belongings, including the colourful balls of wool she’s been busy knitting into a child’s mobile and the packet of Pickled Onion Monster Munch she’s been magically breaking down into little molecules inside her belly and then rearranging into the shape of a small human. She’s always been good at making things, has my wife. She’ll be a brilliant mum. And as for me?
All I know is this. We’re having a baby.