Simple, lovely words about parenting from Bob Harris, Bill Murray’s character in Lost in Translation:
‘It’s the most terrifying day of your life the day the first one is born… Your life, as you know it, is gone, never to return. But they learn how to walk and they learn how to talk and you want to be with them. And they turn out to be the most delightful people you’ll ever meet in your life.’
2nd February, 8.00am
The delivery suite is so busy we were lucky to get a room. It’s basic, with an old bed and no en suite bathroom – at least we’ve got one and the Second Coming will have no illusions about our austere times. There have been a few traumas in addition to the human traffic jam, which has drawn in several of the embattled midwives. It means Debbie has had to abandon the maternity assessment centre and will now stay with us for the duration to deliver our baby. Understandably, she seems impatient to get on with it and return to her duties. The Duchess, however, wants time to freeze and is no longer keen to have a baby.
1st February, 9.40am
I’ve escorted the Duchess to the antenatal ward at St James’s for a ‘stretch and sweep’. The Second Coming is five days late, so the docs want to try and push things on a bit. When we got to full term plus seven days with the Boy Wonder, the Duchess had one of these procedures and later that night, a few hours after we’d fallen asleep, her waters broke and we left our house as a mere couple for the very last time. So, as much as the Duchess is dreading the discomfit of having a stranger prod and agitate her cervix, part of her hopes history will repeat itself. She’s nervous when we enter the treatment room but the consultant is lovely – the NHS in all of its human glory – and helpfully tells her that she did an excellent job giving birth to the Boy Wonder after 36 hours, and should expect an easier ride this time. The Duchess accidentally calls it a ‘Sooty and Sweep’, which lightens the mood. The nurse remarks that the Duchess doesn’t seem to have any stretch marks, despite the size of the bump. I retort: ‘That’s because she’s spent about five grand on luxurious oils and creams. We can’t afford a cot or a buggy but her skin sure is smooth.” We all laugh and after 30 seconds of obvious pain, the Duchess rights herself and we leave together strangely buoyant and optimistic.
Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick… In two weeks’ time, the Duchess is due to be legs akimbo in one of the premier lounges of the maternity ward at Jimmy’s producing the second heir to the daddyfool throne. Just at the moment the Boy Wonder is showing encouraging signs of self-sufficiency – moving with speed and power, debating whether the vehicle ahead is a van or truck, removing his socks in the snow – we will be doing it all again and then returning to our semi-detached palace with a little, wondrous, frightening baby.