It’s nearly Milk’s birthday and I spend a quiet moment on the loo thinking about the exciting and ignorant weeks before he arrived.
When people say pregnancy lasts for nine months it’s just one of the very big fat lies they tell you about becoming a mum. Most of the health professionals want you to have your baby at around 40 weeks, which is four weeks longer than nine months. And four weeks, when you are carrying around an extra human being, feels quite a long time.
Another pointless exercise is having a due date. Apparently only five per cent of babies arrive “on time”. Except in Louisiana USA, where I once saw a weird woman on TV saying that her doctor correctly predicted the arrival of all five of her children. She said this while patting the rolls of skin on her tummy as if her doctor was magical. Surely if there was someone who knew how this clock ticked no one would be telling us to order Vindaloos or have hot baths or try and hump each other with a massive bump in the way.
In the weeks before Milk’s arrival we meet up with an NCT group. The only way to survive parenthood, according to those gurus who are already parents, is to buy friends in the local area who had sex and got pregnant at the same time as you.
“Can’t we just go to the pub and talk to people?” I say before my husband sends the payment.
“Not many pregnant people hang out in pubs. Or do you?” he raises an eyebrow.
“I wish I could drink,” I say stroking my belly. I have abstained from alcohol from the moment I found out I was pregnant. It’s a choice every pregnant woman has to make and I chose to be a martyr.
“For that money I hope the teacher explains what the bloke has to do during labour.”
“I’m gonna be watching the Apprentice Final,” he says and clicks send.
We are the last to arrive and I survey the group, milling around sorting out hot drinks and laughing nervously about taking a second biscuit. There is a circle of hard plastic chairs and the facilitator holds her hands together and welcomes us, asking us to introduce ourselves and say three words which best describe us. I stare at everyone and push my leg against my husband when people speak, as if I can transmit my thoughts through his kneecap. He pushes back, but I never hear his thoughts so I just have to hope they aren’t going somewhere else.
The teacher is intense and obsessed with “natural births” as opposed to drugs or C-sections. She explains how her daughter had a home birth and breathed slowly until the child was born. “Any particular concerns?” she asks.
“How do you change a nappy?”
She seems disappointed at the group’s lack of interest in hanging from a tree in the fairy woods while breathing out a baby onto a lotus leaf.
“We’ll show you all that,” she says with a tight smile. “Soon you will be doing it in your sleep.”
As we drive home we are both buzzing.
“So what do you think? Did you like everyone?” I look at my husband’s profile in the yellow light of the car.
“Yeah everyone seems OK.”
Typical husband answer.
“Who was the prettiest do you think?”
“Ha. I’m not stupid I know you were looking at Sara.”
“See, you even know her name.”
“Well everyone does – they introduced themselves.” He turns the wheel as we pull into our road.
“Mmm. She is pretty though, isn’t she?”
“Shut up. Did you like any of the blokes?”
I don’t answer. Not because I liked any of the blokes but because I did not notice the men at all. I was too busy staring at all the girls and their solid bumps and fabulous boobs and pretty shoes and shiny hair. I am trying to ascertain where I am on the friendship scale and whether I will get on with these people. I don’t care if they have big boobs, but if they have big boobs and wear loafers – well, we are not going to be mates. I haven’t told my husband about the way I make friends, I’m not sure he would approve and also I don’t want him to think about the big boobs – except mine, which are incredible at the moment. First time I have ever had a cleavage, and I like it.
I am jerked out of my toilet reverie by the sound of Milk and Mayhem screaming “stuck stuck” and I race down the stairs with my knickers twisted up my bum, to find them locked in a panicked embrace under every possible soft furnishing they could find in the time it took me to have a pee.