Noelle McCarthy for her baby, due in July.
“Dear Boot, Terrible name for a baby, I know. It’s a private joke. I won’t go into any more detail in this public forum. (Is there any child in the world that wants to hear their conception story?) It’s apt too, given your prowess as a kicker, which lately you wait until I’m watching telly to show off. Apparently, babies move more when their mothers are relaxing. Either that, or the latest season of Homeland isn’t doing it for you at all. It’s been nearly seven months now, and I feel like I’ve been pregnant for ever. I forget what it is like to wear jeans, or eat camembert or bend down. There’s a ‘new normal’ of floaty dresses, and decaf and wicked heartburn. And you, of course. The new normal of never being alone. We went for a walk last Sunday morning, just you and me. You woke me around 6am – that right boot again – and I thought I’d go and sit in a café like the baby books tell you to (‘while you still can!’). The streets were clean and empty, and I thought about all the times I’d walked the same walk, younger, unattached, alone. Everything is going to change when you get here. Sometimes I feel completely ready for you, and sometimes I am frightened by what’s ahead. I haven’t spent a lot of time around babies; I know we’ll be making it up as we go along. I hope our best will be good enough for you. When I think about it though, I know that everything will be okay. You couldn’t be luckier, having the dad that you do. He is the kindest, nicest man in all the world (he will be furious with me for writing that publicly). No one will love you better, or more. Already you are loved, of course. It’s overwhelming, the joy that’s come with the news that you are en route. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, great-aunts and great-uncles and hordes of cousins, from Cork City to the Wairarapa, they’re all celebrating you already. Not to mention all your honorary aunties, spoiling you early with bassinets and pyjamas and booties. That is what I wish for you. That all our love will provide you with sustenance and backbone as you make your way in life. I want all the other things for you too, all the usual things parents want for their children; that you will be kind, and honest and content. Contentment is important, and underrated in this world of strivers. Philip Larkin knew that, when he wrote a poem wishing that his best friend’s baby girl would grow up to be dull. Sounds awful, but listen to his definition of dullness: ‘A skilled / Vigilant, flexible, / Unemphasised, enthralled / Catching of happiness.’ [From Born Yesterday.] I can’t think of a better wish for you than to be skilled at catching happiness. And if you can cook like your Dad does, then when you go flatting, I’ll worry about you a lot less. Mostly though, I just want you to know that, of all the different things that your father and I are creating together, you are the best. See you sometime this winter. We can’t wait! Love your Mamma, Noelle xx PS Hopefully we will have a better name for you by then.”