The countdown had started before I’d given birth of course – on that first Wednesday morning when I didn’t have to heave myself and my bump out of bed at 6.30am and drag myself to work. But a year was a long time. A year ago it was, anyway. I think I first heard the days ticking down after about five months. By ten months, as each day passed, a huge bell of misery tolled in my ear.
I’d done a Keeping-In-Touch day – just the one, before I realised that I didn’t really want to keep in touch. I wanted to stay at home with my baby. Forever. But that wasn’t the plan. The plan – the Lesbian Parenting Master Plan, in which even Biology had conspired – was that as my maternity leave ended, Sal’s would begin: heavily pregnant with baby Willow, she would become Luna’s main carer while I returned to full-time work/misery.
So while I wandered the corridors at work, bewildered and detached, struggling to hide my indifference towards issues and concerns which seemed irrelevant and tedious, Sal looked after Luna. She tied the sling above her bump when they went for walks – a comfortable counterbalance. She crawled around on the floor – picking up Luna’s discarded lunch from under the high chair. And she took on the ultimate challenge – the afternoon nap without ‘milky’.
Meanwhile, the bell of misery had faded into the tedious daily grind of work. And there was a new countdown. Not of misery this time, but of hope and expectation and a fair bit of apprehension (what were we going to do when there were two of them?!) because Willow the bump wasn’t going to stay that way for long…