Today, for the very first time, I met my great-nephew George. He is absolutely delightful. His mum, my beautiful niece (I have lots of beautiful nieces, this is my sister’s younger daughter), is radiant with motherhood. Fabulous company, a really good laugh, very sensible, and I just love her to bits. I love babies. I love new-borns, right up to toddlerhood. I also love children. It was the best morning I’ve had for a while.
My mother came too, and started talking about how Sarah and I had delivered our babies “properly”. Mum had to have a C section with me, and forceps for my sister. Somehow she has felt bad and sad and guilty about this all her life, and I think that’s awful. So I told her about Prof Dr Alice Roberts, who did a documentary about evolution. One of the things she said, and demonstrated with a skeleton, is that the reason human babies aren’t able to walk and stuff immediately after birth, like, say, horses, is because our brain pans, our skulls, are just too big. If pregnancy went on any longer than nine months, the baby’s head would just not fit through the pelvis. Birth is difficult and risky as it is, so we are evolved to give birth before our babies’ skulls get any bigger. As it is, we have a “soft spot”, the fontanelle, at birth, so that the baby’s skull can fold over itself a small amount.
So there is no such thing, I told Mum, as giving birth “properly”. There’s no such thing as “failing”. If your baby is born, then you’ve succeeded.
I don’t know whether she’ll take any notice, but she tends to think about these things for a while and then decide.
Anyway. Sarah is beautiful, radiant, and a fabulous mother. George is delightful. Smiley, happy, peaceful, a little chunk of loveliness. A little package of honey-coloured boyness.