July before last. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon, the missus and I were sat in the park with a bottle of Leffe, ruminating on the cricket match yonder; well I was, I was trying to explain the difference between a spin and fast bowler, because I like the sound of my own voice, when I felt compelled, quite suddenly, to question her on matters of a personal nature regarding a specific aspect of female biology that may, or may not, occur cyclically. And right there and then I learnt she might be up the duff. Obviously it was just as possible that this wasn’t the case, but the way in which I was informed, perhaps the way she was brandishing the now empty bottle of Leffe, suggested we should get this checked out as soon as we could. And so it came to pass.
In the early stages of pregnancy, the only difference those rapidly-dividing cells made to us was my having to drink alone. There was no morning sickness or weird cravings, she was fine as well, so until we actually heard its heartbeat, saw a little blob on a monitor, we still weren’t 100% in ‘the zone’, whatever that is. And even after we were in ‘the zone’ (still not sure but had a better idea) it all felt a bit odd. Bizarrely, it was through the act of telling people, three months in, that it sort-of gelled that we were. Going. To. Be. Parents. Or rather, we were already parents. Or something like that anyway. It was confusing.
Fuck, she’s got a bump.
And we live in a one-bedroom flat, we’ll have to move, no. Think. God. Let’s do it after Christmas, we’ll still have four months. Pint? No you can’t can you… Soda water? Alright! It’s not my fault… Well it is. No ice, right. Lime? Only cordial… No thanks, just the soda water, then. Pint?
With the birth date set for early April we decided to, basically, not do anything baby-wise until after Christmas with aim of having it all done (whatever that was) by Easter. This took some fictional pressure off, we went to Italy a couple of times and I took full advantage of the missus’ abstinence by allowing her to drive the hire cars whilst I sat beside her in the passenger seat either hungover or drunk -and all the stages in-between- offering helpful advice on her driving. Christmas came and went, by the end of January the flat was unchanged until, one cold morning, I suddenly I smashed up our behemoth leather sofa.
This bloody sofa had been winched into the flat by the previous owner, I say ‘winched’ because it wouldn’t fit through any normal-sized door and had to be craned to the third floor and stuffed in through the ‘French’ windows over the balcony. We tried to sell it, then give it away on the proviso the new owner paid for the crane… With nothing doing the only option was to break it up and take it downstairs in small chunks. A day’s work later, a busted back and a massive lump on my head, the old sofa was out and the smaller two-seater sat in its place. The desk was dismantled (from now on, I work in the bedroom) and the breakfast-bar-thing shifted into the place where the two-seater used to sit, this meant we now we had enough space to build a small but serviceable child’s room within the open-plan lounge/desk area/s. Bollocks to the planning permission, ‘my mate Jon will have this sorted in a week’ I said and, a week later after much hard work, the room was built, painted and good to go. It looked as if it’d always been there. Soon there was a cot, toys, a buggy, some drawers with nappies and baby clothes… And a freaking man, usually about five times an hour.
I was trying to picture him in there, you see, lying in his cot, doing stuff. Baby stuff? Imagining ones unborn as a newborn is hard. You get snatches of it but nothing seems to settle in. However, your mind is quite happy to vividly flash-up images of a gurgling toddler falling off the balcony, or being snatched by priests… Run over by the car you’ve reluctantly had to buy in order to ferry the little bastard about. Even now with him yelling behind me I can switch to that (quieter) place where he existed in my imagination, whilst not being able to quite ironically conceive a life without him.