Throughout my pregnancy I pranced around the place saying: ‘Look at me, I’m pregnant, aren’t I clever, look at my bump, isn’t it great’. I enjoyed every single second of it, and felt very special and unique.
I loved all aspects of it; getting excited about my first bout of morning sickness and telling everyone at work, kidding myself into thinking I had cravings for peaches, following every development from week five (a prawn) to week 16 (a grapefruit) to week 37 (a baby), hearing the fast little heartbeat at antenatal appointments, having to get a whole new wardrobe, feeling the baby kicking and somersaulting, and buying all the baby equipment and ticking items off on my carefully devised Excel spreadsheet as I went. During the whole nine months, I don’t think it ever really dawned on me that at the end of the ever-expanding bump and uncontrollable hype (from me), there would be an actual baby. A real-life Betty Button.
When I was about six months pregnant, Tom and I went to stay with friends in London, and as soon as we arrived I headed straight for H&M, as I knew from several pre-pregnancy day-dream wanderings around the department (feeling very self-conscious with my flat stomach and small boobs) that they had a brilliant maternity section. Whilst there, I wandered over into the baby section, and spent ages trying to decide on a soft toy to go in our baby’s cot. To this day, buying the said duck is a moment I remember vividly. I felt odd and silly about it, like I was completely deluded for even contemplating buying a toy for my bump. What would a bump want with a toy duck? Buying the cuddly toy felt far more personal, and a much bigger deal than buying something practical like a cot or nipple cream.
A year and a half later, this duck is looking very bedraggled, but is Betty’s most treasured possession. Amongst her many cuddly toys, she has singled out the duck as her comforter and friend. She cannot go to sleep without sucking on its now very grey wings and squishing the smelly damp thing into her face. If it has been washed, I have to give it back to her wet. She drags it around with her and won’t put it down for a second. If she does put it down, she keeps one beady little eye on it at all times.
Almost every time I look at Betty and her duck together, so smitten, it reminds me of all those strange feelings I had that day standing in H&M, not really having any idea what I was doing, and not realising how real everything actually was. I can now appreciate that buying a toy duck for my baby-to-be was a pretty logical thing to do.
It’s just a shame she doesn’t feel the same way about her very expensive, four foot wide, rainbow coloured, all singing, all dancing, inflatable lion.