Here’s some good news. With background.
When I was 7 months pregnant with Spider-boy, a colleague and friend took me to the side. She had her first son in his pram and she wanted to give me a warning. She said that though lots of people would tell me that giving birth was the happiest day of their life, it was okay if on giving birth I didn’t think that. Another of my wise consorts. As she prophesied, it was amazing, obviously. It is a momentous thing, mind-rocking and life-changing. But enjoying it? Liking it? Feeling positive about the entire experience? Feeling happy even? That is different. And I’m not sure I did. Drowned in exhaustion, yes. Fearful and strange, yes. Intoxicated by the beauty of my son, of course. Happy? Maybe a little, that labour was over.
In many ways, the happiest day of my life was the very first time I saw Spider-boy’s face. We were in a scan room, a side room really, in a busy hospital. I was so nervous the sonographer had to warn me to calm down and Mr Thatwoman had to hold my foot. I somehow felt that there would be something ‘else’ in there. A puppy perhaps. An animal or growth. Not the baby I so wanted.
I was lucky that day, when she turned the screen towards us and he was there, just there, dancing in the black. A beautiful wriggling blob, arms and legs and that huge (albeit neck-less) face, his snub nose already partway there. All 12mm or so of him. I think my heart might have broken there and then, not with sadness but because it couldn’t contain what was demanded of it.
That first scan shot was sublime. I sometimes feel his profile has hardly changed. I used it to announce my pregnancy and kept it on my fridge until he was old enough to smear it with his fat toddler fingers and impulsive narcissistic fascination with it.
Our first timer vanity over scans wasn’t long-lived. At the 20 week scan when everyone else seemed to have an even bigger more beautiful 2001: A Space Odyssey shot, we saw a Death Eater looming from the deep. He looked so strange and scary, our only consolation was no-one can look good with a full frontal skull shot. But I was assured he must still be lovely and instinctively defensive when the sonographer described him as ‘average’. No child of mine, I muttered to myself with feeling, would be described as ‘average’. Pah.
Over Christmas, and the New Year, the newborn was poorly bad. He lost weight and faltered back into his newborn clothes. Never one to worry about weigh-ins or to develop growth chart anxiety even I was rocked by his plummet down the centiles when his nappies were all baggy again. He went from right bang on the middle to around 10% or something.
We’ve soldiered on, and agreed to not freak out. To the point where I put it out of my mind, and merely carried with me a slight sense that he was a bit scrawny. As he approached 6 months, I noticed people looked at me weirdly when I mentioned him being small. We saw the health visitor. She stripped and weighed him, and his belly rippled as he sat up on the scales, smiling intermittently between biting people.
She fiddled with her figures and exclaimed him to be back exactly on the ‘line’ he was born on, the 50th centile. Perfectly, wonderfully average. And thank the Lord for that.