Known her all her life

Thursday 20th October 2011

DADS are almost always present these days. They are expected to be. And quite right too. It has to be one of the most beautiful and thrilling experiences ever. What surprised me, that night – and I know this is going to sound silly – was the fact that it was in colour. Oh… and she also had a fabulous singing voice. I could still hear it outside, as I leapt, light-hearted, back into the saddle for the cycle ride home after the birth of my older daughter.

This was the early 1970s. Many men weren’t convinced: they felt uncomfortable about seeing their wives in pain. Midwives weren’t that sure either: husbands sometimes fainted or needed more looking after than the mothers. The attendance of fathers was by no means commonplace.

Our son had been born while we were still at university. His was a difficult birth: footling breech. I’d been allowed in briefly, to sit by the bed, but was unceremoniously ushered out when the second stage of labour began. I waited in the staff lounge, watching The Dam Busters on a monochrome television and probably chain-smoking – we did that sort of thing then.

Twenty-eight months later I was determined not to miss it, phoning the cottage hospital frequently and being told, just as frequently, that my wife’s contractions were few and far between. Yes, she was fine and, yes, they’d call me nearer the time. I started to feel embarrassed by my own persistence, until—

“Ah, we were hoping you might ring, Mr Moore. The baby should arrive any moment now…”

When gales gust along the Fylde coast in autumn, they do so with mocking ferocity.

“Oh look, a cyclist, coming straight towards us. What fun!”

The one night in my life when I was an athlete of truly Olympian character. And nobody witnessed it.

Mary kept her cool – and our daughter within – long enough for a nurse to walk slowly down the corridor and answer the nagging doorbell.

Push, squeeze, wriggle, squawk. Love at first sight.

See you on Sunday for your birthday, Immy, my wonderful daughter.





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