x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Babies are in my distant future

The responsibility of being left in sole charge of a neighbour's baby is terrifying.

Recently and rather unexpectedly, my life has become filled with babies – both in actuality and bump form. And just to be clear, I'm not expecting. Nor do I intend to be for quite some time, particularly after I attended an antenatal class last week (more on that later).

It all started a couple of months ago, when a young couple with two infants moved into the apartment next-door to mine. The mother and I began exchanging nods in the hallway and chatting idly in the lift and gym and on Halloween I made sure that we were well stocked with sweets, so that when her six-year-old son came knocking on the door, cape swirling, wizard hat perched jauntily on his head, he wasn't disappointed.

A couple of weeks later, she invited me over for coffee. As we sat sipping our drinks, with her six-month-old baby girl sleeping soundly in the room next door, my new friend received a phone call saying that her son had an upset stomach and needed to be collected from his play date earlier than expected. Rather than forcing my friend to wake the baby up, I suggested that it would be far easier if she nipped out and I stayed put.

In the few minutes after she left, as I surveyed the tiny, slumbering figure in front of me, the enormity of being left in sole charge of such a young baby suddenly hit me and I started to feel, well, terrified. But I steeled my nerves, dealt with a dirty nappy with something verging on aplomb and am happy to report that out of the two of us, little Juliet was the only one who cried that day - and even that was short-lived, soothed as she was by my singing (there's a first time for everything).

So, when another friend asked if I would accompany her to an antenatal class, as her husband was away with work, I happily agreed, thinking that I'd breeze through it unfazed. I was wrong. Three hours later, brain swimming with information and having restrained myself from wincing only once or twice, let's just say my mind was well and truly changed.

Not only do I now have even more respect for all my friends with children, but I'm really hoping that Natasha's husband is back in Dubai for class number four, when they play the much talked-about birth video.

eshardlow@thenational.ae