Perhaps ironically, having spent the past nine months fearing a premature delivery, Baby A (a little boy) arrived three days after his due date to delighted parents and a thrilled big brother.
“Mummy, our baby is taking a long time.” O had oft lamented.
We had been inclined to agree. Having welcomed O at 37 weeks we had naively expected to do the same this time around. Subsequently March was spent in heightened anticipation of drama… where every twinge was mis-read as the onset of contractions and family and friends were put on nightly red-alerts. But now he is home….and it feels like he always has been.
The ‘delay’ in babe’s arrival did however mean that we had more time than we had bargained for to prepare for his entry into the world….. so prepare we did. First up was a brutal cull, supervised by my mother-in-law, of the 157 bags (only a slight exaggeration) of O’s outgrown clothes which resulted in the sending of the majority to charity, a minority straight to the bin and an edited selection back into the loft. S, with his longstanding belief in being green, was horrified at the entire process.
“Mam!” he cried aghast as he clocked the Everest-sized pile of discards.
“You are not putting a baby in those discoloured things. And these” my mother-in-law held up a pair of muddy-brown, wide legged cord trousers “are out of fashion.”
“Discoloured? Fashion?” S spluttered, glancing at me for back up. I shrugged helplessly. Few of the clothes had started out new. In fact many were already third hand. Some had even stemmed from a cousin who is now fourteen. So whilst my mother-in-law may have been harsher than I might have been left to my own devices (and I’ll admit to sneaking a few nostalgic items back out of the pile to the sound, if I was caught, of “I hope you are going to frame that rather than put the baby in it……”) I was for the most part in agreement. S, however, was less than convinced. As yet another faded outfit was tossed onto the pile he cried out in protest.
“No no no…..Mam! That’s ridiculous! I’m not going out and buying all this again!”
“This baby will NOT be a second-hand baby” my mother-in-law vowed as she diverted with a swat S’s covert attempt at salvaging a babygrow. Finally, realising he was on the losing team and with a despairing shake of the head, S retreated back upstairs…..
The charity Traid arrived a few days later to pick up the 15 (this time I exaggerate not) bin bags of clothing and S dutifully replaced the newly sorted, folded and labelled bags of surviving clothes in the loft. Despite the ferocity of the cull there will be little need (“unless it’s a girl in which case you can throw the lot out” warned my mother-in-law) to buy another thread for this little one. So with everything ready we sat back and waited. Or rather, that was what I was told to do.
In reality there was very little sitting being done. Cradling my 40-week belly I next opted to tackle the mountainous tower of O’s boxed-up baby toys, again retrieved from the loft. As old favourites emerged, a singing mobile phone, an alphabet-reciting dinosaur and chiming doorkeys, O’s affection (and our disdain) was rekindled. Age-appropriate Toothless the dragon, Batman and Dusty ‘Cockcocker’ were promptly forgotten as nostalgia set in. Meanwhile S and I found ourselves involuntarily chorusing ‘peekaboo’ in time with the out-of-tune voice of the Tomy laptop before lamenting the return of the battery-operated toy.
To house this newly expanded selection of noisy, primary coloured plastic more retail therepy was required. Ikea Trofast storage units were ordered (I sat down long enough to do that…..) before two were assembled (one still to do) in an ungainly fashion sat legs splayed on the floor, tummy resting between them.
“You don’t stop!” cried my mother-in-law in exasperation after which she imposed a time limit in which to finish sorting toys before I was sent to the sofa with coffee, biscuit and an afternoon film. “This baby must be coming soon. You are definitely nesting….”
But with no sign of babe I continued on with my jobs. This time I turned my attention to the veg patch into which I plan to plant beans, tomatoes, squash, courgette, lettuce and beetroot. So whilst O sat snuggled next to Grandma watching Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures on the iPad I, annoying theme tune dancing through my brain, snuck to the shed to get soil and pots in which to plant my seedlings. Then, quietly, I lined them up like soldiers along the bifold doors until I was caught and told, once again, to sit still.
Funnily enough it was whilst sitting…or rather standing up after a period sitting, that those waters finally broke. Only and hour after S and I both admitted to each other that we didn’t believe this baby was ever going to arrive, arrive he did. In fact, having finally made the decision to enter the world there was very little procrastinating involved. Less than four hours later Baby A was in our arms.
After a short hospital stay we are now home. And finally, after all the building work, all the planning and all my (ongoing) tweaking…….this really does feel like home. With the sun shining, garden blooming, doors open and baby snoozing…his little cheek pressed to my chest…..we are in seventh heaven. S’s face lights up after a hard days work on sight of his tiny jellybean of a son. O is in love not just with the bow and arrow Baby A bought for him (the reason, surely, my bump was so big?) but with the little brother he now seems so proud to care for. In fact, Baby A is one of the only things which trumps the iPad and his newfound addiction to CBeebies. It’s watched with a protective hand on his little brothers head and is abandoned the very minute a cry is heard and a big brother stroke required.
So whilst the four of us being at home feels simply divine, admittedly more practice needs to be had at getting the four of us out of it. Our first trip, to the local swimming pool as requested by O, required a number of return visits to the house: first for the forgotten nappy bag and then again for the fairly essential swimming kit. Our next attempt at an outing – to Whipsnade Zoo – commenced several hours later than planned with a dangerously depleted nappy bag resulting in some tactical rationing. But that aside and despite the fact my seedlings are not faring so well, the combo of glass-magnified April sunshine and lackadaisical watering resulting in the deaths of all of my tomato and lettuce and the wilting of my beans, our new family of four are doing just fine. And finally, of course, I’m actually sitting down….