Things are a little crazy this side since I still don’t know when I’m going to Sudan and our lives are a bit in limbo until I do know. But in the meantime, as promised, here’s the follow-up to last week’s post.
Dear baby turtle
I hope you don’t mind me calling you baby turtle but since you’re only 11 weeks old you don’t have a name yet and that’s what you looked like on the ultrasound. Last week your mom and I were at the Kingsbury and I have to tell you that we were quite excited by seeing you on the screen. Your heart was beating at around 160 beats a minute and you had these four cute little limbs and a big head. And even though we were being very practical and sensible about the whole thing, with talk of beta SCG levels and nuchal lucency and the chances of fetal abnormality, it was still quite an emotional experience seeing you on screen for the first time.
“It looks like a turtle,” I said to LJ, who is L’s gynaecologist.
”Absolutely,” she said. “One of those crazy little turtles from Finding Nemo.”
Cool gynae, hey? I think she was a little nervous because L is, after all, one of her colleagues. Your mom was feeling quite emotional when she arrived and so LJ whisked her into the room for the check-up while I sat at the desk and tried to take in what I saw so that I could describe it later. I remember there was an inspirational quote printed out and standing on her keyboard. I did take note of the name (Emerson? Thoreau?) but in the excitement of course I forgot it. But what I do remember is that it was about enjoying the small things in life and making a difference. Even if you make a difference in one person’s life (through being a good parent for example) then you will have done some good in the world.
I’ll skip the rest of the appointment if you don’t mind, as interesting and important as it was, since I wanted to carry on from last time and continue the story of how your mom and I got together. We’ve fast forwarded a bit here, from March to June. And I thought I would describe to you a couple of pictures.
In this first one, your mom and I are at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock having brunch. We have our sunglasses on our heads and she’s wearing a blue fleece and I would say the mood is one of happiness and slight shock. As I remember it, we’d found out the day before that she was pregnant and we were delighted but there was the mild anxiety of “what do we do now?” Because you were planned — there’s no question about that — but we’d didn’t know it would happen so quickly. We kept coming back to the point that at our ages, falling pregnant is quite a thing. It could take us two years and even then we might really struggle. So we said that if we love each other then why wait? One of my sisters gave me a card for my 40th birthday which said “Don’t wait. The time will never be just right”. And perhaps that was part of it, a sense of taking our chances while we have them.
But back to the picture. That was a good day. The food at the Biscuit Mill is always excellent and we wandered around the stalls and through the shops enjoying the World Cup atmosphere. I had a small German flag painted on my face and we took the train through to Cape Town and did the fan walk ahead of the Germany versus Argentina match at the Cape Town stadium. We didn’t actually see more than a few moments of the game since there were easily 200,000 people in Cape Town that day and getting anywhere near a TV set in the Waterfront was almost impossible. And so we ducked into the movies instead until the crush of people died down.
This second picture shows your mom with her engagement ring standing next to a statue of Nelson Mandela at the Waterfront. It was towards the end of July (and you were about seven weeks old). Look at that smile on your mom’s face. The sun was shining and it was another beautiful Saturday morning in Cape Town. We’d fetched the ring from the jeweller and we walked to a bench overlooking the harbour and with a good view of the mountain. I remember some kids coming up to us collecting money for a trip to Robben Island and my first thought was “I hope they don’t try and steal the ring”. A mean-spirited thought but we’d only had the ring for about five minutes and I had a real fear that somehow we’d lose it. I gave them some money more out of guilt than any genuine sense of good will and then we were free to admire the ring some more. It’s a family ring since it’s a combination of a diamond pendant which my dad gave to my mom and my aunt’s gold wedding band. Sitting there on that bench, I thought I should probably go down on one knee but there was no way that I was going to do that with all those people around. And L was already wearing the ring so I would have to have taken it off her hand and then presented it to her again.
So mostly we just sat and talked and took a few pictures with the harbour and the mountain in the background. And then your mom was feeling hungry so we went to get some slap chips. We spoke about how we felt and for both of us there was a mix of happiness and anxiety. It felt a little unreal I guess and there was also a sense, at least for me (since I can’t speak for your mom) that this was just right. There was also a little voice in my head saying that we were possibly a little crazy to get engaged after only four months and did we really know what we were doing? But on balance we decided that we did know. And while there are no guarantees that a relationship will work, we both know that it’s a good idea to separate out the relationship from having a baby. We’re not going to get married just because we’re having you (although that was the deciding factor in speeding up the whole process). It’s more important that we have a sense that we really like each other (in addition to loving each other) and that we’re good together and that we want to build our lives with one other.
Time will tell of course. But I think we’ve made a good start. Oh, and enjoy the rest of your time being a turtle. You started out as ‘the phantom’ and now you’re ‘baby turtle’ and in about two weeks we should know whether you’re a girl or a boy. Exciting times.