I don’t know what’s causing all the unpredictability this year — must be the weather — but all my friends are suddenly having babies. My closest friend is on her second, but it’s after a respectable four-year gap and several deals between us, so I’m able to make my peace with it — also, between her and her husband, they lose their four-year-old son five times a day (not because they’re irresponsible, but because their son has the unpredictable energy of a Takeshi’s Castle contestant on a crate of Red Bull), so they should probably have Plan B on the bench, just in case.
Everyone else, however, needs to calm down and give me a break (they’re having babies, but it’s all happening to me, yes, you are absolutely right). But I’ll save the selfish whinge for my next Facebook status. Because as I write this, my concern for the people procreating around me is outweighing my need to indulge in a good old whine — and that almost never happens. These people are my closest friends, I love them all to pieces, and I really love babies, but there isn’t enough love in the world to convince me that the two are ready to come together. They’re just not. I’m not judging them (yes I am) and I don’t have scientific data to support any theories. I’m just going by my own significant sample group of five couples, all of whom are threatening me with babysitting duties before Christmas this year.
One’s already popped. “It’s a boy!” a 3 a.m. text announced last week. Born to a glowing, cheery mother, and a beaming, incredulous father who immediately took to prodding his masterpiece son with his index finger at regular intervals as a show of extreme affection, little Agastya has the cutest feet I’ve ever seen since the last time I saw a newborn baby. On my way over to the nursing home, I asked if there was anything I could bring them. “Ear muffs, PLEASE, he won’t stop crying!” replied my friend who already felt underslept and overdrawn. I was still chuckling at his red eyes the next day, when I went back to visit, which is also when I realised that my friend hadn’t held his son yet. He was terrified. “Are you mad? I’m damn clumsy, I’ll drop it!” His wife, bless her patient heart and lilac hospital gown, smiled dreamily and talked him through his first sit-down with the baby in his arms. It was a beautiful moment, not least because it was a great reminder of what a pocketful of painkillers and a morphine drip can do for your mood. When he’d convinced himself that he could hold his son without breaking him, he got comfortable fast — only minutes later, he was arguing with his wife (who was now using the bed remote to go up and down at varying speeds) about putting their son in the cupboard drawer to change his diaper because “it’s got panels on either side so the baby can’t fall off and also, hello, how do you think people in Japan live, anyway?”
“I don’t know for a FACT that babies aren’t born with teeth,” he insisted, refusing to take my word for it when I begged him to. “Eh, when was the last time you saw a brand new baby?” he wanted to know. He started to back down as I grew increasingly agitated, negotiating milder theories that included, “Okay, not HARD teeth, maybe they’re, like, flexible.”
Two other guy friends of mine are expecting babies in August, a week apart from each other. One of them, a really intelligent science graduate who went on to study in some of America’s finest schools, argued with me two weeks ago about babies being born with a mouthful of teeth. Excuse me? I implored, hoping it was the punchline to a joke I missed, but it wasn’t. “I don’t know for a FACT that babies aren’t born with teeth,” he insisted, refusing to take my word for it when I begged him to. “Eh, when was the last time you saw a brand new baby?” he challenged me. He backed down as I grew increasingly agitated, and tried negotiating milder theories that included, “Okay, not HARD teeth, maybe they’re, like, flexible.” I’m not used to being speechless, so I haven’t really known the nuts-banging joy of letting someone speak without interruption (it’s GREAT, I highly recommend it). “Or maybe they’re, like, retractable teeth.” Yes, genius, your kid is basically Wolverine.
Our other friend, meanwhile, is silent because while his wife is busy trying to find a comfortable position between the 3,00,000 pillows she absolutely MUST have on their bed at all times, he’s quietly sneaking the pregnancy body pillow he got her onto his side of the bed (floor). “Mothersweargodpromise it’s the most amazing thing in the world. I think I’m going to have to buy two.”
As much as I love my friends, and indeed all their babies, there’s only so much you can talk about maids and diaper rash before you need to rip the morphine from their arms and shove it into yours, or get the hell out of the city altogether for a change of scene and a glass of champagne that doesn’t taste like a bunch of Care Bears made it (non-alcoholic alcohol? Are you kidding me?). Maybe steal me one of them dreamy pregnancy pillows while I’m at it and settle on a beach somewhere I can binge-watch the sea, before I start the missing them all terribly and have to come right back. Because, let’s face it, a one-year-old with a mini-turban on his head is one of the most irresistable things in the world.
Ravina Rawal is the Managing Editor of Guardian20.