Saturday, 12 November 2011
I was never a motherly sort before I had my own kiddies. In spite of the fact that I was a child psychologist, I am not sure that I actually got what having children is all about. In a gaggle of women clustered around a newborn, I would be the one hoping and praying that I would not be the one called upon to hold the baby. I was always scared I would make it cry, or drop it or make some kind of fool of myself with it.
The Sweetpea, on the other hand, was the total opposite. Strangely, for a man, he was one of the first in those baby-admiring groups, easily picking up the little one and holding it with confidence that even the mother did not have. When all others made a baby scream with panic, he was the one who had them hanging onto his beard with a look of wonder on their little faces. He actually commented to me once that he thought I might be more comfortable holding a snake or a spider. He knows me well - I would actually have been quite confident holding either of those - just don't give me a baby!
It all came to a head when we were asked to act as a couple in a play in the theater. They had a baby all lined up for us, a placid little creature who was calm and contented until, in the wings, a moment before we were due on stage, it took one look at me and from then on acted as though the very devil was after its soul. I was supposed to carry the baby onto stage, showing it off to the audience as the son I had desired all my life. But we couldn't get it near to me. Eventually, with a large amount of ad-lib, Peter carried the then-cooing baby onto the stage and proclaimed that it was the son we had always wanted. People always commented afterwards that it was a nice touch for the dad to show such pride in his son - I never had the courage to admit the truth behind our little charade.
I was therefore understandably nervous when I thought of having my own littlies - and not only one, but two! I was the kind who had made a head-orientated decision to have babies, because time was running out for us and I thought we would be better people for it. As the time for the birth drew near, I spent hours with the Sweetpea, agonising about if I would be able to love my babies as they deserved. He always assured me that I would. He said he could see maternal instincts in me that I myself was not aware of (maybe he was making use of positive thinking?).
However, I need not have worried. The second those two were born (after a labour which was classified as uncomplicated and easy, but which seemed very difficult and a lot of hard work to me), the twins were put naked onto my chest. And that was that. I felt, for the first time in my life, that my heart was actually beating outside of my body - vulnerable and exposed in those two tiny creatures. Everything from that moment on was about them - when I could not see them, I felt bereft; when I heard them crying, I would have done anything to make them stop.
And when I looked at the Sweetpea, and he could read all of this in my face, he said what any husband in the situation could have been expected to say: "I told you so!"