Leo shatters the 6 lbs barrier. I exaggerate. He has in fact passed it through stealth, our returning midwife, Karen, weighing him at one ounce over 6 lbs. Forgive the parental hyperbole. Odd, though, still, to think he hadn’t arrived at that small landmark some weeks back in the womb. Having confounded all expectations on arrival he seems to have decided to start his weight-gaining regime in earnest on the outside. Leo has now put on 11 ounces over the last five days, having mastered the manly art of being breastfed, so it’s steady as she goes, and while it’s still hard work for him he’s at least putting in the hours…
It’s more peculiar still to pour tea for and chat with our now stalwart midwife, as Ellie and I play partners for perhaps the last time. Again, I exaggerate. For dramatic effect, perhaps. If we are acting, we’re only playing mum and dad, and that’s not a stretch – we are mum and dad, after all. That fact aside, we’re quite happy to let Karen come to any conclusions she may, knowing full well she’d never guess the unbelievable truth.
There’s been no collusion on this point, no mutual decision taken to conceal the truth. And yet nor could we truly be said to have maintained a pretence. We’ve attended months of midwives appointments and breezed cheerily through weeks of antenatal classes, why would we at any point put our hands up and confess – we’re not what you think we are – ?. Young(ish), seemingly not unattractive, not to mention seemingly in love, why shatter anybody’s illusions, if indeed, they were bothered to have any about us? What purpose could it possibly have served? From my own point of view, it might actually have been a huge relief. Already top of the (antenatal) class for holding the attendance record among males, and considered prime dad material by midwives and classmates alike, the truth might even have seen me conferred with an unlikely hero status. Surely.
Ellie will have had strong reasons of her own to play Mr. and Mrs., and quite naturally. Little or no imagination is required to wonder how a class full of mothers-to-be, or even a midwife, might have judged her. Put simply, it was nobody’s business but our own. And yet it never sat easily with me. We were fortunate enough to have a highly social team of midwives, with an emphasis put on outreach and home visits, and friendships were formed. Karen missed our birth, food poisoning depriving her at the last of the chance to bring Leo into the world. She’d frequently noted that we were both ‘pretty laid back’, but I wonder had she been present at the birth what she mighty have made of proceedings – too laid back even to manage a kiss, never mind an ‘I love you’?
So no lies told, no deceptions, and yet the woman sitting opposite me, bouncing Leo atop her knee, the woman with prime responsibility for shepherding forth the firstborn may never know the truth. I suppress the urge to scream and carry on sipping tea, wondering to myself for the umpteenth time, out of perverse curiosity, if nothing else, if only you knew… I can play happy families for another half an hour. It was what I always wanted, after all.