December 2008: Penguins go pop!

Regular readers may remember that Harry has been suffering from a sympathetic pregnancy. He’s had a penguin in his tummy. He hasn’t mentioned it for quite some time but, this evening, we finally inflated the birthing pool and Harry and I climbed in for a chat about what is likely to happen when Baby Joe “goes pop”. (The pool was empty, incidentally.)

You know that scene in Friends when Phoebe’s mum tries to illustrate how difficult it would be for Phoebe to give up a baby by giving her a puppy? And then she can’t get Phoebe to listen to her because Phoebe’s too busy playing with the puppy? That’s kind of what Harry was like as I tried to explain childbirth to him.

I told him that, hopefully, I’ll be in the pool, but there’ll be water in it and the midwives (who he’s met) will be here as will Daddy. I told him he’s welcome to join me in the pool or just in the room, but I might be crying and I might be sick and I might even do a poo.

“You not do a poo,” he said, as if advising me.

“Well, I’d rather not,” I said. “But sometimes that happens, because the baby sort of comes out of your bottom.”

“Oh,” he said, smiling. “I think I forgot that.”

“I’m not sure you ever knew that, sweetie,” I said.

I told him he could be in the other room with Daddy, watching CBeebies or whatever he wanted. Or he could go to Grandma and Grandad’s if he preferred. No, he said, he’d rather stay here with Middy and Daddy.

We cuddled for a while and then he sat back, put his hands on his stomach and said, “Oh! My penguin is back!” Then held out cupped hands and whispered, “My penguin…”

I admired the (imaginary) penguin and called David to admire it too. And then – pop! – there was another penguin. This one bit my nose when I went to give it a kiss. And then – pop! – there was another, who tried to get out of the pool. And – pop! – another, who ran up Harry’s pyjama leg. And then – pop! pop! pop! pop! pop! pop! – approximately twenty penguins, plus three “Baby Jesus penguins” and at least a couple of “Baby Joes”.

At one point, Harry reached over, picked up nothing from the bottom of the pool, held it up to his face and whispered, “Beautiful.”

He so is.