I met a friend, Cara, for dinner last night at one of Jamie Oliver’s restaurants in the city. I haven’t seen Cara for ages, mostly because she’s now a full-time working mum.
I met Cara when we started work together on a graduate scheme of a large retail bank. I liked her straight away. She’s down to earth, practical, punctual to a fault, with a really dry, wicked sense of humour. It’s getting on for ten years since we met, and we’ve kept in touch regularly through book clubs, dinners and catch-ups. Cara is the only friend I know who will ring me to let me know it looks like she’s running ten minutes late… and will then go on to be five minutes early. As an obsessively punctual person myself, I love that about her.
It wasn’t a surprise exactly when Cara got pregnant – she’d been married for a couple of years – but I’d never pictured her as the broody type. She’s very pragmatic – like me, not particularly tactile, and she seemed different somehow from many of my other friends who’d recently become parents, with their cooing and seemingly unending desire to dress their girls in pink.
Cara’s daughter, Stephanie, is now just over a year old, and Cara was showing me some photos of her daughter, at various stages of babyhood.
“So, this is Stephanie when she was six months,” Cara said to me, handing over her iPhone so I could see.
“Cute,” I said. I didn’t really mean it. I’ve never yet found the photo of someone’s child remotely interesting.
"And this is her with the other babies from the ante-natal group.”
“Great,” said I,stifling a yawn and mentally making a Tesco list for tomorrow.
“Now, before I show you the next one, I have to give you some context,” said Cara. ”Basically, Stephanie hadn’t pooed for three days.”
Cara had my attention. Down-to-earth she has always been, but she’s too classy a lady to talk about poo.
“Well,” Cara continued, “I changed her, and suddenly she filled her fresh nappy completely with poo.”
“Oh,” said I, pushing my chocolate mousse to one side.
"So I changed her again. And the minute I got her new nappy on, she filled it immediately again.”
“Lovely,” said I, calling the waiter for another large gin and tonic.
“So I took her dirty nappy off one more time, and was just about to put a clean one on her… but I didn’t quite get there in time.” Cara hands the phone to me, and it is a picture of her, standing there, covered literally head to foot in shit. It’s even all over her face.
Cara. Classy, educated, pragmatic Cara. Covered in another human being’s faeces.
I think this may have put me back at least a couple of months in terms of thinking about considering coming to terms with the possibility of trying to conceive.