The stiff door of the local community centre, where I've come for my first NCT antenatal class, has an apt sign - "Push hard." Utterly perfect considering awaiting in the hall are eight heavily pregnant women and their partners, all ready to learn about the joy of labour and how to cope with small babies.
In fact I'm shocked, considering my own tiny bump, to see just how huge and pregnant-LOOKING these amazing women are. I feel almost fraudulent in comparison. No wonder nobody gives up their seat for me on tube if this is what I should really look like by seven months.
I was very daunted when booking the course, seeing as I'm not in a couple (much to my dismay) and I wasn't sure if being around loving, excited parents (plural)-to be would make me feel even more isolated and sad. And to be honest it is hard seeing and sensing the closeness of the couples in the room. I keep imagining what he would be doing or saying if he was here too. I imagine he would have been one of the men who volunteer for the operating theatre role-play games and been in the smoking gang of men who popped out at every break for tea.
To her credit though, my sister who I asked to come with me as my birth partner, really holds me together, and with her gobby humour making the room giggle, my aloneness is deflected.
Nobody questions the fact that I have my sister (and not my partner) in tow, which is good really, as I haven't yet fabricated a good yet vague reason for my solo trip into parenting when people do eventually ask.
The extended biology lesson is all well and good but the greatest thing gained from the classes is meeting local women who are due in at the same time as me too. Not only are we going through the same aches and pains now, but we'll always be at the same stage in the future too. Our differences in careers, outlooks, personalities are all sort of melted into the baby goo, so I'm sure we'll be in touch for a long time afterwards to swap tales of poo and sleepness nights as our babies grow bigger.