“There’s a baby in mummy’s tummy,” my toddler tells a fellow shopper in the department store lift.
Silence, accompanied by a look of confusion and a furtive glance in the direction of my stomach. Then a big grin spreads slowly across this total stranger’s face as he offers me his congratulations.
The handful of others around us immediately follow suit, until it feels like a scene from a cheesy rom-com. Needless to say, I’m a tiny bit mortified at Maya’s frank and dramatic, out-of-the-blue reveal.
But at the same time, it’s one of those unforgettable moments, the kind that mark our lives at important junctures.
I also couldn’t be more proud of how easily – at two – she has grasped the idea. Okay, her level of understanding is basic, as you’d expect. A few days ago, she put both her dollies up my shirt before telling me she was going to “get in mummy’s tummy too”. But, since Mr R and I shared the news with her after the 12 week scan, she’s been surprisingly gentle with my bump and occasionally gives it a cuddle.
Baby R junior is due at the end of April and we are delighted at the prospect of our family growing from three to four, all being well.
Just enough time to remind myself how to do it.
It’s funny. I thought I’d remember every small detail the second go. Not the case. Obviously, certain things stay with you, like morning sickness, which has returned with a vengeance. But in terms of the stages of the pregnancy, the various appointments, blood tests and jabs, it’s as though I might as well be a novice all over again. And I guess, to some extent, I am. What is it that they say? Each pregnancy’s different.
In one particular sense, however, this one won’t be dissimilar to the last. It seems I’m destined to be pregnant during general election campaigns.
In spring 2017, when I was about four months pregnant with Maya and hoping to steadily wind down en route to maternity leave, Theresa May called a poll. Here we are two-and-a-half years on, I’m almost four months pregnant again and we are having an election, although – granted – there’s a considerable difference between covering a campaign and watching from the sidelines.
Thankfully, there won’t be any standing on platforms in stuffy halls, arm stubbornly in the air, desperate to get a question answered, no adrenaline-fuelled all-nighter and double shift over polling day itself. Nevertheless, I will, no doubt, greedily consume every cough and spit from the campaign trail, same as usual. Nerdy Lindsay won’t be able to help herself.
That said, I’ll admit I groaned when I first heard the news.
Exasperated probably best describes my initial response, not unlike Brenda from Bristol’s much circulated “not another one” in 2017. (I still have a mug with her quote printed on it cluttering up our kitchen cupboard…)
We’ve had our fair share of electoral events in the recent past, so to have a sense of fatigue, a feeling that “none of this will change anything anyway”, as we head towards December 12 is entirely reasonable.
But I’ve given myself a firm talking-to. For a start, we mustn’t forget how fortunate we are to live in a country where we can voice our opinions freely at the ballot box, not to mention the sacrifices made in the struggle for women’s suffrage. It was only last year that we commemorated the centenary of women voting in a UK general election for the first time.
Moreover, in today’s specific context, going to the polls affords us the chance to break the deadlock that has compounded the Brexit process for so long now. It means we just might be able to escape the Groundhog Day we’ve been forced to trudge through, in turn shuffling a step closer towards moving beyond Brexit one way or another, to healing the deep wounds blighting our nation. And that absolutely has to be the focus.
Because I don’t want to raise my children in a society where bullying of people with contrasting views is tolerated, where female MPs, or any for that matter, feel compelled to step down in the face of abuse.
Those who have announced they will not stand next month include UK Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan, who was subject to phone calls about her days being “numbered” among other threats. While incredibly not the “tipping point”, she has said the abuse MPs receive contributed to her decision.
Another is former Tory turned Liberal Democrat Heidi Allen, who’s spoken of the “nastiness and intimidation that has become commonplace”, calling its effect “utterly dehumanising”.
Of course there’s the possibility of a hung parliament, of ongoing, soul-destroying stalemate. There’s no getting away from that – Brexit has never been an issue that’s sat neatly within party lines. But we have to try something; we can’t simply continue as we have been.
What’s more, the fact that a task is hard, isn’t an excuse to give up – at least that’s what I teach Maya.
We need to care This is an opportunity we must grab with both hands.
For the sake of all of us, we have a duty to be engaged, a responsibility to make an informed choice and see where it takes us.
Lindsay Razaq is a journalist and former P&J Westminster political correspondent who now combines freelance writing with being a first-time mum