There's something about the number 5 - and multiples of it - that invite reflection. Not sure why it's any more significant than 4, or 6, but for some reason it just is. It's totally undeserved, of course. You can imagine, in the Numberjack household, 4 and 6 getting all antsy with their sibling. 6, on learning that 5 gets to be celebrated as 'significant' yet again, lets rip;
"What's so special about you? It's not like you're an even number, or anything. OK, so two of you make 10 - what's clever about that? Add me and 4 together, and we make 10 too. It's no biggie. Don't we qualify for some big hooha?"
"Yeah!" pipes up 4. "We like celebrations, just like everyone else... But nooooo, it's all about 'the 5'. Well, we're sick of it. We're off to partaaay with the evens. See how you like that! Later, dude..."
5. It was 5 years ago tomorrow that Boy #1 was born. 5 years ago tomorrow morning, in fact. Which means that 5 years ago tonight, I was still sitting on our beat-up green & white striped easy chair, watching SATC whilst it was still cool. I had just started my maternity leave and had the whole thing all planned out. I was going to spend the next couple of weeks relaxing; my baby would be born on time and with as little intervention as possible; and who knows, maybe I would take up the offer of a birthing pool if one was available. After a straightforward birth, I was going to breastfeed successfully, jump straight back into my skinny jeans, and maybe even walk home from the hospital. I mean, we only lived a 10 minute stroll away. How hard could it be?
(Note to other mothers reading this: if you snort too hard you will make your nose bleed. Just a piece of advice).
I had just done the first day of my 3 day intensive NCT (ante-natal for non-Brits) course, and my mind was in free fall;
"Do I really need to buy everything on the long list they gave us, of the things that they suggested we take to the hospital? Will honey-flavoured ice-cubes really help? Do we even have a thermos flask to put them in? Maybe I should actually unpack the box of baby stuff that my sis (far more clued in than I) ordered on my behalf from Boots when she got tired of waiting for me to do it myself. As if there's a rush, really! Though perhaps it would be a good idea to pack 'the bag' that everyone talks about as being so important. You know, the one that is supposed to be waiting by the door, ready for you / your partner to pick up as you swan calmly out the door on the way to your perfect, preferably drug free delivery.
"Time enough tomorrow. For now, let's just get lost in the wonder that is Carrie's wardrobe...
"Oops! God, I can't believe it - I've wet myself. Stretch marks, heartburn, and now this. Will the indignity of this pregnancy malarky never end? Won't mention it to Husband, let's just scoot down the corridor...
"Sooooo. Made it to the loo - but it's not stopping. Hmmm. Maybe - maybe - I haven't wet myself. Ah. Not sure now whether to be relieved at the lack of stress incontinence or panicked by the thought that 'it' might actually be happening. It isn't, of course. My due date is not for another 15 days. I haven't even finished my ante-natal classes. We don't get to final stage delivery until tomorrow! No, it couldn't possibly be early. No-one in my family is ever early. EVER.
"But it's not stopping.
"OH MY GOD! I'M HAVING A BABY!!!!"
Now, I'm not going to take you through the whole grisly process. Suffice it to say that my dreams of a straightforward delivery were just that - dreams. I would no more have set foot in a birthing pool by the time I was admitted (nearly fully dilated, I might add) a couple of hours later, than I would have gone through the whole thing without an epidural. And there were plenty of interventions. Nearing the end of it I felt so much like a cow that I asked the two obstetricians who had temporarily lost sight of their arms which was Siegfried and which was Tristran Farnon (drugs are a wonderful thing for restoring your sense of humour - and follow the link if you don't have the faintest idea what I'm talking about).
But ultimately, the most important thing was that Boy #1 arrived, intact and healthy. I still remember now the look in his eyes when they handed him to me seconds after he was born, blue, bruised, and silent with shock. And the weight of his tiny body curled up sleeping on my chest, like a little bear, a couple of hours later. That's still my nickname for him now at times; Little Bear.
5 years ago. It seems like a lifetime - it is a lifetime, his - and yet it is as if it were yesterday.