If you're reading this, I'm in labour. I hope your day's going better.
I've done all I can by way of preparation. My hospital bag, assembled and packed by Mum in a manner that would make any Krypton Factor champion weep for very shame, has been in the hall for six weeks. It contains clean nighties, clean knickers, clean dressing gown, two packs of newborn-sized nappies, a packet of maternity pads that I prefer not to think about, six babygros, a baby hat, a fan, a water spray and some cereal bars that look like the kind of thing you should undertake only if you are in peak physical condition, not trying to push a baby out of a reluctant orifice. I presume Mum knows what she's doing. I have always presumed she knows what she's doing.
Alongside it is the supplementary bag I have packed for myself. It contains four Twixes, a Creme Egg, Bunny (my faithful and only non-judgmental childhood companion) and a selection of comfort reading that caused what I strongly feel to be an unnecessary number of disagreements between me and Toryboy. I tried to put in Maeve Binchy's Light A Penny Candle. He took it out.
"No son of mine is going to be born in the vicinity of one of your Bridget O'Bridget sagas," he said.
"I'm not even going to be looking at it. It's just to have. I'd like to know it's there. It's the bibliographic equivalent of Bunny."
No matter. I've taken out three of the maternity pads in the other bag and slipped it in there instead.
What else? My godmother and great-aunts have been alerted so the novena chain has begun.
Toryboy and I have decided that the baby will take his name. He doesn't know it's because I spoke to Mum about it and she said, "Oh, yes, let him have the name. Everyone knows children belong to their mothers really. Changing the name just makes the dads feel like they've got something to do with it." It's a robust attitude, and one that explains much.
We've done seven dry runs to the hospital, none of them successful. The satnav, for some reason, refuses to believe such an institution exists. Rather than buy a new one, Toryboy has chosen to interpret this as a challenge to his masculinity and intends to do the journey unaided. That's fine. The bookbag and I are going by taxi.
After a brief but intense discussion, Mum has agreed to meet us at the hospital and stay for the first hour or so to get me settled.
"But it should be your and Toryboy's time," she argued.
"What? What? Now you're attempting detachment? After 36 years of making sure you haunt my every waking and sleeping thought?"
"But he's your husband and the father."
"Nobody can prove any of that. I had papers destroyed. What's with you? Have you been on the internet again? Who's filling your head with all this nonsense? No, you're coming. You didn't send me to university on my own, you're not leaving me now. It'll be like September 1993 all over again. You come, you unpack while I sob inconsolably with fear and regret, you make me eat something, you leave. Three years later we'll hopefully agree again that it all worked out fine in the end."
So that's it. We're ready to go. Whether we're ready to come back with a baby in tow is anybody's guess. I'll let you know how it went when I make it back to work in six weeks, six months or 18 years' time, however long it takes to find the new normal, though I'll try not to bang on about him thereafter. Wish me luck.