A good friend has just had a girl. It is wonderful. The baby is gorgeous (rather than being crumpled up and looking like E.T as (if we were to be honest) most babies do), mother is well, father is reportedly taking to fatherhood as Aussies take to cricket, and this is all very, very lovely. Even more so, as my friend was told a number of years ago that it was unlikely she would be able to have children.
So this is a very special baby, indeed.
My friends (the ones who go back a long way) have hit sprogging age. The first to reproduce was perhaps the one we thought most unlikely to be straight, and also the most unlikely to get married, have a responsible job, settle down and have a family. That was a couple of years ago. In the last twelve months, two more close school friends, my bro's wife, some orchestra friends, a lass I was in Tanzania with and a couple of colleagues have all sprogged.
I have noticed a few things in this time:
- Most babies have their photos posted on Facebook within 48 hour of birth;
- Not all babies are amazingly ugly (and some actually look quite sweet);
- Some babies cry more than others;
- All new mothers love having friends around so they can hand the sprog over for a while.
A few months back I called in to see my nephew and sister-in-law for an hour or so on the way back from Swindon. I'd actually called in to pick up some Easter eggs my folks had left for us, but the opportunity to see the little fella was welcome. I'd also taken some plastic construction vehicles for him to play with. They were a big hit - he just about had the co-ordination to bang the things together and make a lot of noise, and then he discovered the nipple-shaped magnet on each end, which evidently made a fantastic focus for suckage, and kept him quiet for a couple of months.
I rather like my nephew. He's a happy chappie (and is easily pleased), and I can't wait until he's a bit older and we can take him to exciting places, feed him full of sugar and e-numbers, and hand him back to his parents in a hyperactive state.
But seriously, I'm a little worried that I might be beginning to like babies. I'm no longer terrified of making them cry and instead find myself making silly noises, pulling faces, and swinging them around by any extraneous limbs until they put their energy into wondering where the ground went and forget to cry.
I think this is a sign of getting old.
I turned thirty last month. I was in Prague with N. (I had a notion that if I had a birthday and wasn't in the UK for it, people would forget and perhaps I wouldn't have to really be thirty. This notion turned out to be false.) I do feel rather old. Maybe it's something to do with living somewhere relatively conventional, having what appears to be a 'safe' job with a growing company,
Maybe it's something to do with having the bone mineral density of an average grandmother.
Really. I have. The t-score from my recent dexa scan showed -1.6 for my hips and -2 for my lumbar spine. Or perhaps it was the other way round. No matter, they're the sort of scores you expect when you're in your sixties with a sedentary lifestyle. Fortunately I'm on the sort of medication which is suited to (and only licenced for use by) post-menopausal women of the age of average grandmotherhood. Coupled with being thirty, this would be more than enough to make me feel old.
Luckily, this is balanced out by having the bowel control of a new-born baby. This is particularly the case when I'm running. At the moment, I'm lucky to get a few kilometers down the road without an urgent need to find any sort of premises in which I might be able to use a loo. Bear in mind that this puts me in either deepest, darkest Brentford (home to a number of spit and sawdust pubs) or into well-heeled and ever-so-slightly-up-its-own-bottom Richmond. Neither of these locations take particularly kindly to lycra-ed up runners making a desperate dash to the loo and leaving shortly after without swelling the coffers of the licensee. I've been made to feel pretty uncomfortable on the way out, but nothing compared to the level of discomfort I was feeling on the way in. Either way, when my nephew starts crying because he's filled his nappy, I do feel a certain level of empathy with his plight.
It's empathy tinged with a bit of jealousy, though - my nephew's likely to grow out of it.