Appointed Hours

Believe it or not, I planned to spend these months writing here about the build-up to the big day, not filling the place with links and throwaway gags. But life is racing ahead too quickly on every front. The teaching that’s kept me busy every January and February for the past few years has come round again, and I’m teaching on another course now as well. And in every other hour that I could have been composing earnest essays about impending parenthood, I’ve been busy. Except, maybe, for this one.

Tally Ho!

We’ve been British (-Australian) for six days now, and I’ve got to say it doesn’t feel much different yet. No desperate craving for Marmite or sudden insight into the intricacies of the Football Association. No invitations to Buckingham Palace or free hampers from Harrods. No headlines denouncing us in the Daily Mail. Maybe the passports will help, once we get around to sending off the forms. Or I could buy myself a top hat.

The citizenship ceremony was a brief affair, held in the City Chambers on the Royal Mile. A framed photograph of the Queen smiled at us. Kids and babies chattered and cried through the speeches from civic leaders. After pledging our allegiance, we all filed up to get our certificates and have our photos taken in front of the flags of Scotland, the U.K. and Edinburgh City Council. Six years of visa applications, questions at Customs, Home Office interviews and multiple choice tests, over at last.

A friend who went through the ceremony down south got a knitted coat of arms from his city. We got a sprig of heather and thistle.

Open Your Eyes

I’ve started going along to first aid classes. I looked into doing it through work a few years ago, but it was too complicated to arrange. Bringing a small and helpless creature into a world of choking hazards has made it a good time to try again. Fortunately, St Andrew’s Ambulance are running an evening class just down the road from our flat. I’m four weeks into it now, and have already learnt the recovery position, clearing airways, mouth-to-mouth, CPR, and how they all work. Next time I see a lifeless torso with a rubber face lying in the street, I’ll know exactly what to do.

It is pretty amazing to realize what a difference the most basic first aid can make. Clearing someone’s airways is about as easy as it gets, but paramedics reckon that up to 30% of the deaths they encounter could have been prevented if only someone had done it. Similarly, carrying around an aspirin to help save a heart attack victim doesn’t seem that difficult. Here, have two.

Counting Down

Jane and I have also been going along to NHS parenthood classes, which in a month when she’s getting rounder and slower has made everything seem very Real and Imminent. The first class was a fairly even mix of round-bellied women and their partners. We were split into groups by gender and asked to write down our hopes and fears about what lay ahead. Most of us came up with a range of both, but one group—or rather, their spokeswoman—skipped the whole “hopes” business and instead listed every possible complication during delivery. She gave the impression that these would all happen simultaneously in an eruption of Vesuvian proportions, leaving behind a smoking caldera where once there was a womb. Subtext to every man in the room: you bastards.

The following week only two of us bastards went. And the week after that, and the week after that. I missed the second half of week two, which it turned out meant missing an hour of relaxation exercises with the lights dimmed. (“Picture the gentle flow of lava...”)

Each week has featured videos produced by different hospitals around the world: Scotland, England, Canada, Sweden, Australia. One minute our midwife is talking about the “beh-be”, the next an Aussie voiceover speaks of the bayyy-be. The most daunting prospect was week three’s, showing a full-on, full-screen home birth. We saw it through, though, emerging head and body and all. They sure had to put down a lot of newspaper.

I can tell I’m going to be overwhelmed on the day. The thought of all that pain producing something as extraordinary as a functioning human being leaves my emotional compass spinning. We’re standing at the North Pole of life.

11 February 2007 · Journal

ahh the beh-be/bayyybe thing cracked me up. has your newfound britishness inspired your baby name choices? Edward? Charles? Jordan?

Added by shauna on 12 February 2007.

That’s the other entry I’ve been meaning to write for the past month! Coming soon...

Added by Rory on 13 February 2007.

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