A Baby, An Actual Baby!

Four babies

Top L-R 1&2 Bottom L-R 3&4


I was both ridiculously and unjustifiably excited with the news of Beth McDonald’s impending birth. I’ve met Beth and we’ve been speaking online for years but my reaction was one of complete exultation. I took the news as if it had come from good family friends, a relative or an old mate.

“THAT”S WONDERFUL” I shouted over Facebook when spotting the familiar shot of an ultrasound on the refrigerator.

For some reason, I’d crossed the line. It was none of my business but I had secretly hoped she’d have just one more. Like I said, unjustifiable and without reason. I can’t explain it. When we’d thought about increasing our family from five to six a neighbour had said something that has stayed with me. “While you’ll possibly regret the baby you didn’t have, you’ll never regret the one you did.”

With every post and update of her expanding girth, I smiled. With every picture of a baby suit washed and hung on the line in preparation, I sighed. And when the big day came and she posted a picture of her new addition I, well what do you think I did, of course I did, I cried. Although it wasn’t the picture of precious baby Maggie that had me staring at my screen with the look of a happy halfwit, it was the picture of Beth standing out the front of the hospital. A snapshot, taken by her husband. Every inch of it screamed new family, every pixel familiar to anyone who has left the maternity ward with a healthy newborn. Exhausted, exhilarated, excited, a new family. It’s the bow on the package: the pregnancy test, the telling of friends and relatives, the ultrasound and the build up. That trip home from the hospital is the proverbial icing on the baby cake.

Unlike Kate in her nude heel and floral number (no judgement I get it, she’s a Princess) Beth looked just like the rest of us – no makeup, hair awry, tracky dacks and a face that beamed with pure joy. Look what I’ve got! Look what we did! A baby, an actual baby!

It’s a feeling that cannot be matched and one which fades with the arrival of sleep deprivation, cracked nipples and witching hour. That drive home, it’s the sweet spot.

My final baby turned nine today. Nine. Together he and I, we were collected from the hospital by Lizzie 5, Annie 3, Fred 2 and a beaming G and driven to our home in Canada. At nine pound something (that’s what happens when you’re the fourth, people can’t remember your exact size, just that you were enormous) he lay in his car seat, oblivious as his three siblings poked, prodded and fought over who would hold him first. Let’s call him Henry Hotdog said Lizzie, it stuck.

This morning as all six of us lay in bed together he talked of the weekend, his plans, once again the request was for a trip to the hotel pool with his family. The big treat was red velvet cake for breakfast. We took out our wedding knife, sang happy birthday, and he sliced through the name on the icing ‘Henry Hotdog’. “I get to eat the Hotdog, it’s my name!” he giggled.

A baby, an actual baby. It never gets old.

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