Much is made of breaking the news of your impending bundle of joy these days... From social media pregnancy announcements and gender reveals to the increasingly popular 'baby shower', people are becoming ever so creative (and elaborate) in publicising the fact that they have a bun in the oven.
Perhaps our 'pregnancy announcement' could also be considered quite elaborate, bearing in mind the fact that it involved international flights and a large element of surprise, but it was also extremely intimate. I don't have anything against people who choose to make a large public display of their news, but for us the most important thing was to tell our nearest and dearest in the most personal way possible.
Giving it the personal touch is all the more difficult when you live an 8-hour flight away from your family. My husband's side live in the same country as us, and we see them roughly once a fortnight, so it wasn't an issue telling them face-to-face. But the distance and time to reach my mother and grandparents back in the UK - paired with the fact that my husband doesn't have a 'regular' job whereby he gets weekends off or can request annual leave at any point - proved to be quite an obstacle.
Our first window of opportunity to travel appeared to be presenting itself in late December, just before New Year - still in the very early days of my pregnancy. But, due to the changeable nature of my husband's work schedule, the possibility was taken away from us at the last minute. Cue much disappointment on my behalf; all I wanted to do was share our happiness with my close family, and be able to keep them updated and involve them in the journey.
The next chance - in mid-February - was touch-and-go as to whether my husband would get the approval to travel for 3 days from his work or not. In fact, we only got the green light very late on the Friday night, and were hopping on a plane in the early hours of Saturday morning. My family were none the wiser and thought we were at home in Dubai as usual.
So, surprise number one was simply us being in the UK - our first visit back to my homeland since getting married. It went down a treat. But nobody was expecting surprise number two.
The day before flying to the UK I had been for my 18-week scan, during which we were hopeful of finding out the baby's sex to add to our little reveal. Unfortunately, though, baby was proving uncooperative at that point, shyly keeping his or her legs firmly crossed for the entirety of the scan, so we didn't have a clue! Our initial idea for revealing our pregnancy news to my family had been to gift-box a little pair of either pink or blue socks for them to unwrap, but since we still didn't know which colour would be appropriate, we moved on to Plan B.
Plan B was to frame the most recent scan picture - one for my mother and one for my grandparents - wrap the frames up, and sit the three of them down to open them at the same time. So this is exactly what we did. With my husband at the ready to film their reactions, we sat and impatiently watched them sloooowly unwrap (plenty of "but I don't want to rip the paper!" exclamations as we urged them to hurry up...!) the surprise. Both parties had assumed from the feeling of the packages that they were framed photos from our wedding.
Having delicately torn through the paper and slid the frames out, my mother knew instantly what the image depicted, and immediately reacted with tears of joy. My grandparents, on the other hand, were a little bit delayed with their reaction. We had completely failed to account for the fact that my grandmother - who gave birth in the late 50s and early 60s - had never had ultrasound scans for her own babies, meanwhile my grandfather, being a true Merchant Navy Captain, had initially mistaken it for a radar picture of a storm!!!
It was only a few seconds later, after my mother regained her composure enough to say "Congratulations!" that the realisation suddenly dawned on the faces of both grandparents; all expertly captured on camera by my husband. There were tears of joy and celebratory hugs all round.
|Grandpa the Navy Captain celebrating his future half-British, half-Emirati great grandchild with a lapel pin|
So whilst it may seem a little extreme that we made a 16-hour round trip just to break the news to my family face-to-face, it truly was one of those unforgettable, money-can't-buy moments, and it was worth every Dirham of the flight tickets, every minute of exhaustion due to the intense travelling, and every ounce of restraint to hide the news during our regular telephone communication for several months before. I can't wait to show the video to our little one in years to come, and show him just how excited we all were for him to arrive.