I am almost 40 weeks pregnant. For anyone who isn’t pregnant and thus doesn’t count a life in weeks, this means my baby is almost cooked. She’s due tomorrow. I was convinced she’d be early, just like Milo, and I’ve been expecting her arrival since January. But she has given me an early warning that I am not to presume anything at all about her: that she is her own person and will make an appearance when she is good and ready.
I haven’t the heart to tell her that the medical profession may see it differently. If she doesn’t get a wriggle on soon it’ll be the Oxytocin drip for her; a tidal wave of chemical hormones designed to dislodge her no matter how bloody-minded she feels like being.
God, I’m good at creating bloody-minded children. I should get some sort of award.
I keep thinking, too, that Things Are Happening. I spent most of yesterday on the verge of tears, unable to settle to anything, and experiencing some impressive Braxton Hicks (practice contractions) that went on through the night. And this morning, instead of a slow ramping up of pain: nothing. Nadda. Back to square one. I feel like I’m going to be pregnant forever.
To take our minds off things we decide to go to Manchester Museum. The place is mobbed: buggies, children, harassed-looking parents, and wild, waddling women with a glint in the eye that says ‘mess with me at your peril’. And that’s just the three of us.
We scoot around the dinosaur section, say hello to Stan the T.Rex, decide that we would quite like dinosaurs to still be around – even if it means the occasional human ends up as dino fodder – and look at Milo’s latest interest: the solar system. For the first time in my life I not only know the names of all the planets but the dwarf planets too, and a fair few of their moons. I am thinking of naming my daughter Eris or Ceres. Or, if she doesn’t bloody well hurry up, I may just call her Uranus.
Blood sugar reaching perilous lows, we head to a chaotic café for lunch. I join a queue that snakes along the length of the cafe, wincing periodically as the air is sliced by the jagged voices of hungry children. After a while, I tune into the conversation of the couple behind me.
‘It’s terrible,’ hisses the man, and my ears prick up.
‘All those coats.’
The woman next to him murmurs something placatory.
‘No, but honestly, all those coats and bags and… and stuff, just everywhere.’
The man is muttering, his voice a pent-up, vicious whisper that indicates it’ll take more than a latte and double chocolate muffin to cheer him up.
‘And the chairs, just pulled out with all those coats hanging off them. I mean, would it hurt just to pull them in a little, to be a bit more tidy?’
I am so confused I turn around and eyeball him. He meets my gaze blankly. And when I turn back round he carries on berating the people in the café for the apparently heinous social crime of taking their coats off while they eat.
At this point the woman behind the counter spots my enormous pregnant belly and beckons me over.
‘You don’t have to queue,’ she says, ‘we can’t have you standing there like that.’
I am whisked to the front and, just this once, being so close to my due date does apparently come with benefits. As I am waved to the head of the queue like gestating royalty, the look of outraged horror that contorts the face of the coat-hating man behind me – well, put it this way: it’s a look that made me laugh so much I’m hoping its recollection will see me through the un-funniest parts of childbirth.
Above: Help, mummy’s cross again. Simon and Milo make a run for it.
Ratings. Babychanging facilities: Yes. Cafe: Kids’ menu but be warned: it’s expensive and very busy at weekends. There’s a free picnic area on the top floor if budgets and space are tight. Buggy-friendly? Yes, although you can also park your buggy in the foyer (they also have lockers for coats and bags). Cost: Free. Worth it? Yes.