THERE MUST BE SOMETHING IN THE WATER

On September 25, 2013 by Kunle Barker

Now that we’ve got the all clear and have made it to week 13, it hits me that I can now tell my friends. But how? It occurs to me that I haven’t really thought this out. I have no idea how I will, or indeed should, spread this wonderful news. What is the best way to announce to my close friends that I have finally decided to breed?

Mummy Bean, on the other hand, has it all planned out, which surprises me for a number of reasons – not least because she never plans anything. Seriously, nothing. I have to do all of the planning in our relationship. This is the woman whose friends text me to confirm her attendance for girls’ nights out, but on this occasion the tables have been turned; on this occasion, she has bested me.

Mummy Bean has arranged a BBQ for her university girlfriends; or a meeting of The Coven as I call it (but only behind her back, of course). It’s a warm summer’s evening, the 17th of July 2013 to be precise. The plan is to announce the pregnancy to all of her friends, amongst the wild flowers of our urban garden. I think it’s a little grand, but I guess I would, as I’ve told my friends over the phone and via text.

 

 

DOUBLE, DOUBLE TOIL & TROUBLE

The Coven has gathered and as usual I’m banished to the loft for the evening and although I don’t actually mind this, I manipulatively pretend to be upset. I explain to Mummy Bean that I’m disappointed not to be allowed downstairs on this ‘fine summer’s evening’. As a consolation, I’m promised a generous supply of BBQ chicken wings. I bound up the stairs with a plate of chicken wings and a fully charged Ipad ready to read an article regarding the impending 2nd Ashes test at Lords. As I put on some Miles Davis, I’m feeling pretty pleased with myself.

After about an hour, the manly solitude of the loft is broken by a crescendo of screams. Ah, looks like Mummy Bean has delivered her news. As I settle down to the last of my chicken wings, the manly silence is again broken by yet another set of screams. Umm, I guess they are just congratulating Mummy Bean again. As I look down at the Ipad I hear yet another set of screams. Okay, this is now officially a bit weird, even for The Coven. Surely they are not still congratulating Mummy Bean? Maybe someone is getting married? No, that can’t be it, they are all married, three of them in the last four months, which also rules out divorce, although why would they be congratulating each other for getting divorced?

Before I have the chance to consider even more ridiculous explanations for the goings on downstairs, there is a fourth set of screams, exactly the same as the previous three. Okay, this now officially warrants investigation, so I go downstairs to investigate and to get some more chicken wings.

As I arrive in the garden, I am greeted by seven incredibly happy women, jumping around and hugging each other like they have all been selected for Judges Houses on the X Factor. What the hell is going on? Through the melee of flailing arms and high pitched screams, I receive information from Mummy Bean that I immediately assume I have misheard. “Sorry, what did you say?” I ask. In unison, four of the seven members of the coven turn to me and scream, “We are pregnant!” At first, I assume they mean ‘we’, as in the royal ‘we’, as in Mummy Bean and me, but the tears in the eyes of one of them immediately gives it away. As I look on, still trying to comprehend what I think I’ve figured out, the remaining three members of The Coven scream, again in unison: “They are all pregnant, isn’t that amazing?” “What, all of them?” I respond.

To say I’m surprised is an understatement. Still a little shocked, I blurt out, “But how?” The Coven immediately quieten, and I realise that the question is both stupid and one to which I don’t want to know the answer. At this point, Mummy Bean runs over to me and, throwing herself in my arms, says, “We are all pregnant, isn’t it wonderful?”

After the news settles in, I’m still not sure who is or isn’t pregnant and so I ask all ladies that are not pregnant to raise their right hand. It’s true, over 50% of the ladies at the BBQ are with child, a strange feat in even the most magical of circles.

Mummy Bean is delighted by this news, as not only are these three of her closest friends, I’m also friends with their husbands. We are ‘couple friends’, a rare and most sought-after species in North West London. As a group, we frequently socialise together and we all live locally. This could not have been planned any better – which arouses my suspicions – but under intense questioning, Mummy Bean reassures me that there has been no elaborate conspiracy. I’m not entirely convinced and envisage a scene not too dissimilar from the opening of Macbeth. The Coven, all stood around a bubbling cauldron casting spells and concocting potions made from eye of newt and toe of frog, in order that their other halves agree to have a child.  The thought of this bubbling caldron and its soup (however vile) reminds me that I have left some chicken upstairs. I attempt to make a dash for it until Mummy Bean reminds me that I haven’t congratulated the members of The Coven.

 

 

IT’S NICE TO HAVE FRIENDS

I’m really pleased for Mummy Bean and imagine her lunching at local cafes with her friends and their perfect little newborn babies, arranging play dates and having friends to hang out with when she is on maternity leave. I also imagine the fathers going to the pub with our babies strapped to us like reserve parachutes, supping on our favorite pints of bitter whilst discussing which national sports team our children will represent.

That evening we discuss how much fun it’s going to be and how lucky we are to go through the early parts of parenting with good friends by our sides. I’m particularly pleased for Mummy Bean as she and her friends will be able to support each other in a way that only close friends can, in a way that only friends who are going through the same thing at the same time can. Having a baby is going to be a big challenge for us both, but more so for Mummy Bean. I plan to be a hands-on father and am really looking forward to that part of the experience. I’ve never understood men who don’t want to be involved in every single aspect of their baby’s lives. However, with the best will in the world, Mummy Bean will have to face some issues on her own, as I simply won’t be there as much once I finish paternity leave – unless of course my Euro-millions ticket is a winner. The news of the mass pregnancies gives me some comfort as now Mummy Bean will not only have me by her side, she will also have her friends.

 

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