Awaiting a new arrival in the family
I have just learned that there is another person – who I have never seen – that sleeps and dreams in our house.
Wednesday is a happy day for me. Every Wednesday marks another week in the progression of my wife’s pregnancy. Each Wednesday, I cannot resist reading those websites that tell you all sorts of interesting factoids about the baby’s development. At 28 weeks gestation, I’ve just read, the baby’s sleep patterns become more regular, and rapid eye movement is detectable – indicative of dream sleep.
What could she be dreaming about? I know that I have dreamt of her, as has my wife – and even our children. Perhaps she dreams of us. The children are already besotted with the baby. They insist on “giving the baby a cuddle” every day, which involves them tenderly cosying up to my wife’s increasingly prominent bump. They chat to the baby in soft voices. They sometimes pray for the baby.
Apparently, the baby already stands a good chance of survival outside the womb – not that we want to test that in practice. Nor apparently do ferry companies. We are travelling to France in a few weeks’ time and the ferry company has a strict cut-off of 32 weeks, beyond which pregnant women may not travel. My wife is 31 weeks going over and 33 going home, so she gets a one-way ticket and has to fly back. Its understandable – and sensible. It prevents air-sea rescue helicopters becoming materity wards and means that premature newborns are not born out at sea, away from the medical care they need. Yet it brings home how close it is now. It is also somehow a reminder of the risks, and the fragility of new life.
While touching wood, we are attending to the practicalities. In dribs and drabs, friends and family are returning borrowed baby accoutrements, like bottles, babyseats and highchairs. I see those things stacked in the playroom and I smile. Although there is none of the blissful ignorance that attends waiting for the firstborn, when you only have romantic ideas of parenthood and caring for a small baby. We’ve been through it all before, and we know the reality of what lies ahead: the sleepless nights, the interminable rounds of feeding and nappy changing – and the joy that is nonetheless shot through it all.
The baby’s older sister and brother, at three and four, already bring a new magic to it. How will they react when they can really cuddle the baby? What will they make of this whole new member of the family? They are old enough to be useful. At least they can fetch wipes and nappies. Perhaps they can be trained into changing nappies too – let’s call it karma. I’ll have to look into the possiblity.
We are still nervous – even though we can feel the baby kicking every day. Having recently lost babies during pregnancy – even if much earlier on than this – its hard not to have fears. Certainly we take nothing for granted. It feels like a miracle to have come this far. Yet every Wednesday, another week has passed and the odds move further in our favour. That’s why Wednesday is a happy day for me.