It’s always when I wake up in the early hours of the morning that The Fear strikes.
No matter how ridiculous the topic, or how illogical the thought process, if there’s something bothering me, you can be sure it will wait by my bedside, ready to pounce when my defences are down. Which is usually in the dead of night – or, more precisely, at 5am, the preferred hour of insomniacs everywhere.
After an incredibly hectic weekend, in which Bub had been incredibly wriggly, dishing out kicks left, right and centre, I’d collapsed into bed ready to play our usual little game of pat-and-kick.
The game goes like this: I pat my belly two or three times, and Bub gives a good old kick in that very spot. And sometimes a few kicks more, for good measure. It’s a fun game, and we’ve taken to playing it most nights, at bedtime.
But last night, Bub wasn’t playing. In fact, he was resolutely silent and immobile in a way he hadn’t been since he properly started his kicking campaign just a week ago.
Convinced he was sleeping, I waited patiently, intermittently prodding the bump and waiting for some sort of response. But nothing. After half an hour, I must admit I was starting to worry just a tiny bit, but I pushed any negative thoughts to the back of my mind and drifted off to sleep.
Lying groggy and defenceless in the darkness, I was a ready victim for The Fear. And The Fear took no time to trap me in its insidious grasp.
As I lay motionless, I became very aware that Bub was equally motionless. So I jiggled a bit. Nothing. Wobbled my belly. Nothing. Patted and poked the bump. Nothing.
Now, my rational mind told me that everyone has a quiet day – including, presumably, the tiny being in my belly. But The Fear was doing its best to convince me that all sorts of things were wrong, from the mildly unnerving to the downright terrible.
Finally, still fretting in the darkness, I did what any rational soul would do: I grabbed my phone and turned to Google for an answer… and almost immediately laughed out loud.
It turns out there are oodles of ladies out there, all desperately poking and prodding their unborn offspring when the poor little mite has the audacity to keep quiet for five minutes.
Instead of enjoying this moment of calm before the storm of sleep deprivation that will doubtless follow junior’s birth, we’re all there, shaking and wobbling and jiggling our bumps, terrified that the little one’s silence is a portent of doom … when in fact the wee soul is kicking our internal organs, or perhaps just felt like having a day off.
It’s at times like this I wish there were someone lying next to me – though I suppose that two people panicking are really no better than one.
And I’d better get used to it, as I imagine things are destined to be quiet in the romance department for quite some time to come … though hearing the dating traumas of some of my girlfriends, perhaps I should consider it a blessing: I could be forced to climb on stage and sing backing vocals to Mustang Sally at a wake, while my date’s family look on, like the old friend I met for coffee last week. It was only the third date. And, it goes without saying, the last.
Yep, despite the continued flattery of the Divine One – which is all very nice, yet clearly destined to be fruitless – things are graveyard quiet on the romance front. But I can’t complain; at least I’m spared the humiliations, the raised hopes and the inevitable disappointments.
And besides, life is good: Bub is back in fine form, and our game of pat-and-kick has resumed once more. To be honest, I always thought I’d want more from the man in my life, but it turns out that someone who kicks when I pat is pretty much all that I need.