Two weeks ago a very good friend of mine had her first baby.
I can confidently refer to the little chap as her first because I feel sure she will breed again.
She has told me her husband really wants at least two babies. He's the oldest of 4 sons.
She is a sort of opposite of him, as a girl only child. (Like me.)
And her direct contact with babies prior to the arduous arrival of her own has been limited. (Also, like me.)
So, as I think of the new family finding their way together over in E17 I am filled with all manner of emotions.
None of which, I am thrilled to report, is broodiness.
Before I had my eldest son I wasn't experienced with babies.
And I wasn't that fussed about them really.
I'd hold them but I wasn't the type of gal who got all strange walking past mothercare.
But that changed.
Without warning, about 9 months (yes, really) before Eldest was born, I had been gripped with all encompassing broodiness.
It was huge.
It took over my whole being.
The World Cup 2006 ended and suddenly there was a word resounding in my brain: baby!
That is how it happened.
I went from being normal and going to work and watching A LOT of programmes about Nazi Germany to being terrifyingly broody.
And would you Adam and Eve it, I got knocked up immediately?
Faster than you can say First Response I was making little pink crosses appear. Or blue lines, depending on your pregnancy test of choice.
I did a lot of tests, you know, to keep making sure. And even though tests are expensive I justified the frankly pointless purchases on the fact I was earning a lot of Boots points.
I kept all the tests in a glass in the bathroom cabinet and would sometimes get them all out and look at them in all their positive glory.
I did this less and less when I was nauseous all the time and I threw them away when I started showing.
Anyway, I was broody.
Then I was pregnant.
I had an uneventful pregnancy.
I gave birth.
It was a bit awful.
And after Eldest was sucked out I was dropped on my face in the theatre whilst having more than a few stitches.
And then I couldn't breast feed which was incredibly upsetting.
But, about 10 days after Eldest hatched I had a discussion with my husband and baby number two was planned.
This baby would be made soon. (Not immediately though, eh? Stitches?)
I pushed for this decision whilst I was still bruised from the shenanigans of getting Eldest out of me.
And when my body was ready to breed once more another one of those miracle things happened.
I was up the stick again.
So, I did a few additional tests.
But not as many this time I because I didn't have an income of my own to fritter away on reckless luxuries like pregnancy tests.
Less peeing on a stick was not the only difference between my first and second pregnancy.
In fact, you might describe the whole saga as a bit eventful.
For starters, few were very happy or enthusiastic about the second coming. A stark contrast to my first, albeit recent previous pregnancy.
Rather than being congratulated on my condition, I was scolded on my carelessness.
Or told "You're brave".
A low point was listening to a voicemail message from a friend who'd just heard my happy news.
Her message went something like this:
"Oh my god! I just heard! Are you out of your mind? Another baby? You're effing mental! You've only just had one! I can't believe it! It's going to be so awful!".
Seriously, what did she think I would do when I heard her message? Maybe she thought I'd see the light and not bother?
Well, I didn't.
I grew another baby and after a big scare at 28 weeks, a spell of the blighter being breach and a few visits to see the consultant out popped Shouty.
(Because of course your second labour hardly hurts a bit.)
Many MANY people said they expected another baby to be on the way soon after Shouty arrived.
Ha ha ha.
"What a good catholic you are Louise!"
And as I've 2 boys I must be longing for a girl and will presumably keeping breeding I get one?
Really and truly there was a spell when I thought another baby would be good/ acceptable or maybe even necessary.
I think about 2 weeks after Shouty was born (long before he was given the nickname Shouty) husband and I had another baby chat.
He was not keen at all on any more babies but prepared to listen to my arguments for. We concluded that another baby might be OK IN A FEW YEARS.
Let's say a big fat maybe.
But then the reign of terror began in earnest.
Shouty had already proved to be a bit of a handful.
On his first Saturday night in the world he screamed through the entire Eurovision Song Contest.
As he entered his 5th hour of screeching, way after Terry Wogan had gone to bed cursing Greece and Cyprus, husband and I took Shouty to A&E (on the advice of NHS Direct) cos there had to be something wrong with him...?
He stopped crying on the way to the hospital.
The doctor concluded that his tears might be cos he was a bit windy.
Breastfeeding started so well but then suddenly and dramatically went, um, tits up about 11 days in. (Turns out both my sons had a tongue tie making feeding from me virtually impossible and NOT MY FAULT!)
Shouty and Eldest were dramatically different newborns. "All children are different" I'd heard (about 3 thousand times) but until I had 2 of my own to compare I had dismissed that as a tired cliche.
My Eldest son had been pretty easy really and I had decided that baby number two would be a cinch cos I had fresh experience and, hey, let's get the nappy years out of the way as soon as possible.
But Shouty wasn't like Eldest.
Shouty grizzled ALL the time.
He didn't sleep through for about 9 months. By that I mean he'd be awake at about midnight and cry until about 2-3am. EVERY NIGHT.
And then he'd have me up at about 5ish.
Shouty would not sleep at all in the day.
He hated his cot and would only go to sleep if rocked in my arms.
He ruined Christmas.
Oh, and he didn't like milk. Would only drink it if he was relaxed enough watching In The Night Garden. This could take several 26 minute episodes.
What a challenge Shouty has been!
As soon as he could walk he chilled out a bit and stopped moaning. I think he was frustrated before cos he couldn't move around much.
I bought a Gina Ford book and tackled his sleep. She is not to all tastes but she helped us out no end.
Eventually he ran out of space in his gob so he had to stop teething.
And there, slowly coming in to view, was a gorgeous happy little dude.
So, now, with my two contented little babies, I must be getting twitchy and thinking about having another?
No. No and No.
My youngest son's first year has been the most difficult period of my life.
Older Mum's frequently tell me you forget the bad stuff. The appeal of the tiny sleepsuit grips you again and you're back in the family way...?
I just can't see it happening.
Because of Shouty, when I see a newborn baby now I think: unpredictable, uncompromising, relentless, loud, contrary, demanding, dissatisfied, smelly and confusing.
So, really, I am not broody.
I do not want anymore babies.
Even if they are all girls.
I am happy for pregnant people and love love love meeting fresh out little scraps of baby. But there'll be no more of that business for me. Thank you.
Not that I'm one for holding a grudge.