This blog is a casual diary of our adventures with our children. But I only had the gumption to start it in advance of Little Buddha arriving a couple of years ago. So, as I’m in a nostalgic mood, here are five notable memories from the birth of our Boy Wonder…
Waiting… We’d been trying for about 18 months. We’d been to see a consultant. We were finding each successive month of disappointment crushing and demoralising. Then, on a wet and horrible Friday in January 2008, I got off the train at Leeds to spot a missed call from the Duchess. ‘Can you buy some pregnancy kits, please?’ she asked breathlessly when I called back. I bought three from the station chemist and got a taxi. Blue lines all the way. Fucking blue lines. I was on the wagon. We had a bottle of champagne left over from New Year. We toasted our huge fortune and I then drank the rest of the bottle. The next morning, unable to sleep, I rubbed my sore head and stared again at those joyous blue lines. By the time the Duchess woke up, I was beaming again. A heady mixture of ecstasy and terror.
Waiting… Did I say terror? At the three-month scan, I was convinced it was all a joke. Apparently, I didn’t say a word during the procedure. I just stared at the screen, unblinking. ‘You could look a bit happier,’ the Duchess quietly scolded me . I couldn’t make out much from the grainy image and then I saw his little heart beat. He was a tiny human being. I could relax (a little). He’d be with us in six months. What’s his due date, we asked? September 11th, she said. So, that would make it 9/11. Oh.
Still waiting… Back in 2008, I was 36 years old. I’d lived more than 430 months on this planet. Which meant I’d completed around 72 blocks of six months. We were expecting our first child through the summer period, which as everyone knows lapses twice as fast as every other season. They were the longest days of my life. I bought one of those magazines that contained a weekly progress diary. Our wondrous progeny was only as big as a grain of rice in the early days. I checked a few weeks later and he’d graduated to the size of a grape. Once the Duchess did start to show, we were the only Brits thankful that the weather was miserable. (While I sat at home to make a few more lists, the Duchess spent a week at Chelsea working on an award-winning garden.) You’d have thought I’d be transfixed on that big date in September. However, at our first ante-natal class, I was the first Dad to be invited to tell everyone who we were and our ‘birth date’. Perhaps I’d misheard: ‘Hi, this is Karen, I’m Shaun, we live in Leeds and I was born 16th March…’ Oh how we laughed.
Still waiting… As if enduring all of those days and weeks and months was bad enough, Boy Wonder decided his daily diet of shortbread biscuits and Battenberg cake was too good to miss. Or perhaps he was just subdued by his Mum’s addiction to sniffing bleach and smothering herself in vapour rub! He stayed put for another nine days. Every time I left the office, people would give me that look: hope we don’t see you again for a few weeks. The next morning, they’d see me sitting at my desk and give me another look: Fuck. When it finally happened, it was the strangest thing. On the Thursday night, I went to sleep absolutely convinced that I’d be woken soon. Around 1am, the Duchess came back from the bathroom, we made a phone call and I completed the car journey I’d fantasised throughout the last six months.
Just a little while longer… The little beggar was still tardy. It could have been far worse, though. When we first arrived at the hospital, they couldn’t find his heartbeat and the palpably worried nurse called for senior help. I will never forget what those two or three minutes felt like. I started to crumble. The Duchess, meanwhile, calmly prepared for the unimaginable. Just as an army of doctors invaded the room, Boy Wonder must have awoken from the sofa at the rear side of the lovely womb and reared his head. Not far enough, though, and after 35 hours of labour the Duchess was in stirrups and we were surrounded by another army of medics. The Duchess said she couldn’t feel her legs, the medics told her to imagine she was having a very large poo. Forceps latched on, the consultants looked like they were preparing for tug-of-war. The rest of the team cheered on the Duchess. Go on, Karen. Go on, Karen, he’s coming. Here he is, keep pushing. Nearly there. And then the biggest, best, most beautiful cheer I’ve ever heard. I cut the cord, followed them over to the heat lamp and held the hand of my little boy.
Not so little actually. An ounce shy of 10 pounds. Bruised, battered, crying with relief. Him, her, me.
It really is a miracle. The last five years have been the best of my life. But where did the time go?