My youngest sister once told me: “No one will ever invent a time machine. If they had, they would have come back to tell us.”
I’ve always felt I could mentally time travel by reading my old diaries. I’ve written about my days since I was 11 years old; the box containing my scribblings is my prized possession. If I’m interrupted while engrossed, I can almost feel myself being sucked through time back to the present.
But it wasn’t until I became a mum that I felt that physical time travel was possible.
I first realised it when the wee man wouldn’t settle and, having run out of nursery rhymes, I suddenly started singing The Frog Chorus by Paul McCartney. The last time I sang that song I was five years old. As I concentrated on recalling the lyrics, I was vividly sitting on a pink carpet next to my brown Fisher Price tape recorder. I was wearing a pink and white striped cotton dress with Minnie Mouse on it and my Mum was calling up to me “not so loud Kimmy”. When the wee man stirred in my arms I nearly dropped him, I felt so completely in that moment.
It happened again when I was in a nightclub on Saturday night – one I hadn’t been to in years. I was with girlfriends I’ve known since I was at primary school and we were dancing to Superstition by Stevie Wonder. Jenny was laughing at the guy trying to dance with her, Steph was clutching two drinks and Kirstin was looking around making sure the Spanish guy she’d once met there wasn’t going to jump out at her from the shadows. I was 17 again, unmarried, without a single responsibility – my only worry whether I could drive to school in the morning without being over the limit.
The taxi ride home was like a journey through time and I headed straight up to the nursery to remind myself who I was. His sweet sleeping face grounded me like an anchor. I stared down at him and realised that every moment has been leading to this. Whenever I’m remembering, he will be the 1.21 jiggawatts I need to get home.
Both Rod and I had been working late, so when we raced into the hospital just in time for the 7.30 start of our first antenatal class we weren’t exactly “in the zone”. Plus I’d cooked sausages while sending my last emails and was suddenly aware that I smelled like a burger van.
We had no idea what to expect. We sat meekly alongside 12 or so other couples and stared at the diagram of a non-pregnant human body – so that’s what I used to look like.
The midwife grinned at us, introduced herself and suggested we all do the same. Everyone was married, everyone was having their first baby and everyone was due within a month of each other… I instantly felt like we belonged. Two husbands were missing due to car trouble (a loose handbrake and a flat tire) so when it came to us I joked that Rod was in the car game if anyone needed a hand. One of the women was having twins (so that’s why my belly seemed so small!) and the lady on my right shared my due date, so all in all I’d say the ice was broken pretty quickly.
The first class focused on our bodies and our pain relief options. The diagram we’d been staring at was flipped to show a pregnant body… Jeez, where did my intestines go? “This is why you’re all probably guzzling Gaviscon” the midwife joked and there were several nods and smiles round the room. And that wee black blob right under the baby’s head is my bladder? “Yup, that’s why you’re in the loo constantly!” It’s always nice to be reassured that your symptoms are totally normal.
When it came to birth plans I was the only one who raised my hand when she asked about water births. She was really supportive and explained exactly how it would work, including the fact I could effectively deliver my own baby by grasping him/her under the arms and pulling him/her to the surface. I loved this idea! She said that Rod could even be in there with me – “Great! I’ll bring my mask and snorkel!” he piped up. Everyone laughed but then there were a few murmurs and I wondered if some other mums were beginning to consider the idea.
At the end of the class we were offered additional breast-feeding and physio classes so I signed up for both. A few others did too, so I’m looking forward to getting to know them. Isn’t the NHS a wonderful thing?