1 February 2014


This is long gone, this day. This today is a dead day walking, I realise most strongly as I recall the sound of my son's heart, while still in the womb, on the evening of his birth when a medic laid a stethoscope cup on my lady's taut belly and the microphone threw out the sound of a racing new heartbeat within her, thundering like a galloping horse's hooves. A new heart pumping so fast and so loud, as it echoed around the delivery room, and I realised completely and fully that there really was another person, my first-born child, about to emerge in that garishly lit small place.

And then the next shock was the total domination of the waves of biochemical insistence that overcame my lady's body, again and again – no going back – this child was coming out. And that our lives are at the complete mercy of chemical change became more vividly apparent to me than ever before.

Nervousness. Excitement. Awestruck as the orifice stretched impossibly wide and I moved my gaze back towards my lady's straining face as the medic peered inwards. And she announced, 'This baby is covered in thick dark hair.'

What! I panicked and the floor seemed to shift a little beneath my feet. Covered in thick black hair? After all the anxieties and all the reassurances, was I to be the father of some gross and hairy mutant?

'Oh yes,' she added, 'a fine mop of dark hair.'

Oh... Just on the head, did she mean? And I dared to look as the head popped out, and the neck, and back all pink and messy but all as it should be. Relief!

Until a few minutes later with the child away from us and being weighed a nurse declared, 'Your son has very long fingers...'

What! Long fingers? Was this the sign of some clinical abnormality? But fortunately she saw my alarm and smiled and reassured me with, 'Nice and long... just nice and long... Nothing not normal...'

Relief! And gradually as he was returned to his mother (His mother! My goodness! Life had changed...), but as he was returned I dared to believe that everything was fine, and that I was not the father of a hair-covered mutant with abnormally long fingers, but was the father of a normal baby boy. A boy who opened one eye and tried to look at me, and to whom I said, 'Hello.' And still he tried to look at me. He opened the other eye, and in his gaze I sensed, or perhaps just imagined, confusion.

And he had every reason to be confused. And at that time of birth and life beginning, my mind was stirring with thoughts of my own life ending, for, gloomy man that I am, I recognised this as the beginning of my own end with the arrival of the next generation. But I managed to be happy. Warm and happy, even amid such a confused mixing of thoughts of life and birth and death.

And in less than two years another child arrived, and she popped out so fast and easily I almost missed it, and then she screamed in loud complaint – a trait that would continue.

And the cycles of biology moved on as we continued with our circles round the sun, having now come 26 times round since I first heard that heartbeat pounding fast like a horse's hooves.


Syncopated Eyeball said...

I'm very much enjoying your reminiscences, Andrew. You write really well.

susan said...

A wonderfully described story.

Claude said...

So very well said!

Andrew MacLaren-Scott said...

Thanks ladies