By the time Christmas comes round, I will have known Laurie for 14 years. Nothing makes me feel older than working out how many years have passed since I first stumbled across Laurie in my politics lesson at college. Those early days feel like a whole other lifetime ago or two whole other people, perhaps.
Every so often, through our long and checkered history, there have been turning points that have completely changed how I’ve felt about Laurie. Little moments in time that have forced me to see him in a new light, to appreciate to a whole new side to him and to realise that he is so much more than even I know.
One of those times, was when I was pregnant with Ebony. I was struggling with pretty much everything. I felt miserable, frustrated and in pain. I also felt pretty nervous about the birth and what the future might hold. Throughout all of this, Laurie was unbelievably supportive. He did everything I felt unable to do. He was empathetic, caring and reassuring every time I opened up. He let me know that we were a team, that we were in this together and that he would be there to make things easier every step of the way.
I wanted to have a home birth. I hear plenty of women say they would have loved a home birth, but their partner would never have allowed it. I didn’t even think to ask Laurie, I just always knew he would support me. I think he would support in pretty much anything I wanted to do. He didn’t tell me home births were dangerous, he didn’t try to scare me off the idea or accuse me of being irresponsible. Instead, he helped me prepare for it, he did his own research and he got excited about welcoming our new baby in the comfort of our living room.
On the night of Ebony’s birth, Laurie was amazing. He encouraged me, supported me and helped me to stay calm. He didn’t get panicked or scared, he didn’t talk too loud or ask too many questions, he just did exactly what I needed him to do. He was there in exactly the way I needed him to be there. He wasn’t playing games on his phone, moaning about being tired or asking how long things would take (people do this). He was as much in the moment as I was, gently encouraging me along.
I can remember Laurie’s face the first time he held Ebony. His wide eyes looking down at her in awe. He looked besotted, terrified and overjoyed all at the same time. I can remember thinking then how lucky she was to have a dad like Laurie. It’s hard to explain what it’s like to suddenly become a family. Despite the nine long months of growing a baby and the hours spent trying to push her out, it seemed to happen in the blink of an eye. All of a sudden, Laurie had gone from being that boy I met in college to being somebody’s father.
For weeks after the birth, I was on a very hormonal cloud nine. I spent most of time feeding Ebony, gazing at her in amazement or moaning about how tired I was. Laurie, who must have been equally sleep-deprived, spent those weeks taking care of me and Ebony. I have never felt quite so loved and lucky as I did in those weeks following the birth.
When Ebony was born, my heart exploded in size and I felt a love so strong it was unlike anything I had ever felt before. But I also found myself loving Laurie more as well. Watching the way he cared for Ebony made me heartache. I loved watching them together, her snuggled up asleep on his chest. I loved overhearing the things he said to her and the games he played with her while he changed her nappy upstairs. I loved watching the pride on his face whenever he introduced her to somebody new. I loved seeing just how perfect he was as a father.
And those feelings haven’t faded with time. I love seeing them together just as much now as I did then. I love hearing her squeal with delight as she plays with him, seeing the way she clings to him in the morning because she doesn’t want him to go to work and seeing the excitement on her face when she discovers it’s a weekend so he’ll be with her all day. She loves him so much and it is so lovely to watch their relationship developing as she grows.
And soon there will be another baby to look after. In around seven weeks time, Laurie will have not one but two babies to care for. Sometimes I try to imagine having two children to look after and I feel a little panicked, but then I remember Laurie will be here, so it will all be ok.