Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Miracle and a Moment of Regret

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Miracle and a Moment of Regret

Article excerpt


I'VE been given the most amazing Fathers' Day present. It looks like an unshelled peanut with a tiny beating heart.

Our embryo has miraculously turned into an eight-week-old foetus. Through the wonder of ultrasound, we've just seen it for the first time, swimming inside a radar screen. Ozzy, or maybe Izzy (we won't know the sex for a while), is already a living, beating, swimming peanut.

As I write this, Joanna is sitting on the sofa, surrounded by strange snacks and pregnancy magazines. For breakfast this morning she had black beans on a baked potato topped with sour cream and jalapenos. Meanwhile, I'm planning our move to a larger house.

Having a baby means that in January my role as a parent will start all over again, days before my 57th birthday. Coincidentally, exactly 57 years ago, my Dad must have been sharing what I'm feeling right now. For I, too, was born to a father old enough to be my grandad. The prospect of a new child at my age is both exciting and worrying. Exciting because I've completely forgotten what it was like to hold my own newborn, or change a nappy, or see the first toddling step. I'm looking forward to doing all the things I neglected last time.

When my firstborn, now 26, entered my life, I was so preoccupied with career, so blinded by absurd ambition, I scarcely noticed the signposts whizzing past on his motorway to adulthood.

These are mistakes I am determined not to make this time. I want to savour every delicious moment.

But I'm worried too. I know that people will assume I'm the grandad. I don't mind personally, but I recall (now with painful shame) my fear of humiliation as a 14-year-old, praying that Dad wouldn't come to parents' day because his grey-haired, overweight 70-year-old presence might engender ridicule among my classmates.

Oh, if only he were alive today, I would proudly show him off. He fought in the Battle of the Somme, refereed at St James's Park in the 1920s, was charming and gentle and doted on me and I wouldn't even let him come to Assembly. …

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