Baby Talk

Beth was delighted that Liam had decided it was time to try for a baby – but just how hi-tech would it be…?

Come on then,” Beth pressed, finishing the last mouthful of her TV dinner. “What did you want to talk about?”

“Blimey! I know I said, ‘after dinner’,” Liam laughed. “But I didn’t mean as soon as we finished the last forkful.”

“Well, you knew how impatient I was when you married me.” She turned to face him, adding playfully. “But it didn’t seem to put you off.”

“OK, here goes.” Liam took a deep breath, before announcing, “I think we should get a baby.”

Beth sat dumbfounded, momentarily shocked, not only by the nature of his announcement, but equally by his choice of terminology.

“Get?” she questioned. “You make it sound like an order for next day delivery.”

“Have,” he corrected. “Have a baby.”

“And might I ask what brought this on?” she questioned, her mind drifting back to endless debates lasting well into the night, discussing the potential highs and lows of an extra little person sharing their house. “I thought you said we weren’t, ‘at that stage yet’.”

“I got talking to Mark at the office the other day,” he replied thoughtfully. “Did you know Emily is a year old already?”

“I hadn’t given it much thought.”

At thirty-one, Beth was the last of her group of friends to remain childless. She had long since realised that it’s a group you’re either in or out of, with much of their shared baby banter going straight over her head.

“Made me realise how time flies,” he went on. Then, scrolling through his phone, he divulged, “Anyway, I’ve been doing a few calculations.”

Beth shuffled closer, squinting at a complicated looking flowchart.

“So, with it arriving mid-March, we get Lisa and Matt’s wedding out of the way.”

“Not sure I like the term ‘it’,” Beth said. “And your calculations appear to rely on me conceiving by this weekend. Which, all things considered, might be a tad ambitious.”

“But that’s the beauty of this app.” He then scrolled further, before adding. “I can shuffle the whole process forward by a few days if necessary.”

Before Beth could inwardly digest the contents on the page, Liam opened another app.

“This one’s a must,” he enthused. “We can chart its progress from conception to the day it starts school. Every sleep, every feed.”

“It?” she retorted again.

“So, if I click on week six, for instance,” he went on. “You will see that he or she is the size of a…” He paused, squinting at the screen. “A rugby ball?”

“It’s a pomegranate seed,” she corrected, with a shake of her head.

“Well, you get the idea.” He opened another link and went on enthusiastically. “Baby monitors are a bit of a minefield, but this piece of kit does it all.”

“Does it really?”

“Not only does it alert you if they cry, it monitors heart rate and oxygen levels. I can also link it up to a wireless visual alarm. It means that if anything happens, this place will light up like Blackpool illuminations.”

Beth suddenly jumped up and heading for the kitchen announced, “I need a coffee!”

She stood, trancelike as the coffee maker sputtered into life.

She could hear Liam muttering to himself about the merits of breast versus bottle and started to wonder just when her own thoughts and opinions might be considered.

Beth took her coffee into the lounge and was relieved to see his mobile had been put to one side. She then noticed the wad of paper he was leafing through.

“What I’ve done here,” he explained, “is print off the charts you’ll be filling in. We can then plot the stats on a graph.”

“Brilliant! Maybe we can stick them on the fridge.”

“Good idea,” he nodded, completely missing the irony in her response. Then, holding the papers up, added, “So, what are you thinking?”

Beth sat staring momentarily, before taking the paper from him. She then slowly and deliberately set about tearing them into the smallest pieces she could manage, before throwing them in the bin.

“I assume that’s a no?” Liam sighed.

“It’s a no to a robot,” she ranted. “Linked up wirelessly to apps and software. With every breath and movement plotted on graphs and charts.”

“But – ”

“However,” she cut in, a smile creeping across her face. “It’s a big fat yes to a baby. A baby who will probably come along when we least expect it.

“An individual, with a mind and personality of his or her own, who won’t need to be plotted on a graph or linked to an app. How does that sound to you?”

“Scary and out of my control,” he confessed.

“Get used to life as a potential daddy,” she laughed, wrapping her arms around his neck.

Our My Weekly Favourites series of feel-good fiction from our archives continues on Mondays and Thursdays. Look out for the next one.
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