One cool spring afternoon, Andy said, “Come on! Let’s go for a walk.” The sky was heavy with clouds. I was sure they were about to burst. I was exactly 9 months pregnant. And I wasn’t very enthusiastic about taking my huge body for a waddle in the rain.
“The exercise might encourage the baby along,” said my husband.
I had experienced a few overdue births, and I quite liked the idea of avoiding another one. A walk around the park? Yes! But then I remembered something very important. I wasn't ready to give birth. Our baby had no name.
Our baby had no name? Well, that’s not quite true. There were a few possible boys' names on our list. But we had no girls’ names at all. Now that’s not quite true either. If the baby was a girl, we really wanted to call her Charlotte but I didn’t know if we should. You see, my grandmother was called Charlotte. You’d think she’d like a great granddaughter bearing her name, wouldn’t you? But I’d heard a family story that indicated she wouldn’t be happy about this at all.
“Your grandmother never liked her name. When another baby in the family was called Charlotte, she said, ‘Why did you call her that awful name?’”
What were we to do? We’d have to find another name we liked just as much. That was proving very difficult.
So we didn't go for that walk? Actually we did. I didn’t really believe a gentle walk around the park would have any effect on our unborn child. I remembered Felicity, our first baby. She was weeks overdue. We tried everything, including exercise. And not just gentle exercise either. One evening Andy took me for a run (a proper run) through town. I wonder what people thought as Andy flashed past with a huge pregnant woman in tow. Well, the run did absolutely nothing. Felicity stayed safely where she was until an induction was booked. But that’s another story…
So a walk around the park? No danger of it inducing birth. No danger at all.
But we didn’t end up walking around the park. Oh yes, we started in the park but soon Andy was striding ahead and along the road and up a hill. A hill? It was more like a mountain. I’m not exaggerating. You need to be fit to climb that hill… fit and not pregnant. Andy and our other children disappeared from sight. I bravely plodded after them. Hours later, I arrived at the summit. Everyone was waiting for me. They’d had time to admire the view and discover a coal mine and have a rest. They were ready to make the descent. I sighed, turned right around and rolled down the hill behind them. I forgot to mention it was raining. Not really heavy rain, just drizzle, the slow soaking kind. Just as well I had a jacket on. There were a few lollies in the pocket. Unexpected treasure on a dismal afternoon. Funny what you remember.
You won’t be surprised to hear that a few hours later, I was ready for an early night. The exercise had worn me out. I snuggled gratefully under the quilt and was soon in a deep sleep. But something wasn’t right. Something niggled at me. It wouldn’t give up until I was awake. I knew what was wrong instantly. I was in labour. “No! It’s too cold to go out. I’m far too tired to give birth,” I moaned. But it was no use. That walk up the hill had done its job. The baby was coming.
Andy grabbed my hospital bag and I grabbed the baby name book. How long can a baby remain unnamed? Perhaps we could continue our search for the perfect name once the baby was born.
Several hours later, a soft-as-down baby was placed in my arms. A girl. Somehow I knew she’d be a girl. Must have had something to do with the fact we didn’t have a girl’s name.
Or did we?
I looked at the baby and I looked at Andy. “Let’s call her Charlotte.”
It was as easy as that.
And what did my grandmother say about us choosing that’ awful name’? I held my breath as I waited to see how she took the news. “She’s a 3rd generation Charlotte. (Or was that 4th generation, I forget.) A real family name.” My grandmother was pleased. In fact she was thrilled to hear she had a new great granddaughter bearing her own name.
So what about that family story? It was probably true. People do change their mind about things.
That all happened exactly 16 years ago. Today is my Charlotte’s birthday. She’s a lot like her great grandmother: she’s short, she has a wicked sense of humour, she knows her own mind…
“Sweet sixteen,” I say to Charlotte.
Charlotte screws up her face. She’s not interested in being sweet. Sounds dangerous. It might involve balls and boys. So far she’s doing a wonderful job of scaring the latter away with her wicked sense of humour. And that’s the way she likes it.
But she’ll change her mind. People do change their minds about things. They do it all the time.
Happy Birthday Charlotte!
|Felicity, Charlotte, Imogen, Duncan and Callum|