03:05: ‘Welcome to Dubai, son; it’s a strange and wonderful place. It’s your home.’ My second son is five minutes old. This must be what pure happiness feels like. Waves of elation, a surge of relief, a lingering hint of fear and a fog of confusion. How did I get here? Today has been a blur.
Five Minutes Earlier: ‘Congratulations William, you have a healthy baby boy. Eyes, ears, nose and testicles are all okay.’ A nurse is talking to me but I can’t hear. I think she said something about testicles – but they look okay to me. I think. I hope. I look at my wife, Emma; she is smiling. That’s a good sign. Everything must be okay. We did it! Normal. Perfect. Extraordinary. That is our family.
Seven Minutes Earlier: ‘PUUUSH! He’s almost here. I can see his face. It is a beautiful boy.’ Sweat. Tears. Yelling. Hospitals are really loud. No inhibitions when you’re giving life. Just screams. And more blood than I care to remember. The delivery room feels like a spaceship. All polished floors and flickering strobe lights. I’m not feeling dizzy any more.
13 Minutes Earlier: ‘I can’t do it. I’m too tired. This hurts too much.’ It’s the sort of thing I say at brunch. But this is Emma talking and I think she is serious. I’m helpless. I’ll give her hand a little squeeze – that normally helps during brunch.
6 Hours Earlier: ‘Not long now, insha’ Allah.’ This is taking forever.
20 Hours Earlier: ‘You want taxi?’ The mad dash to the hospital – I’ve seen it so many times on TV. The driver looks worried. I tell him we’ll name the boy after him if he is born in his cab. Mushi Milner does have a certain ring to it, I say. He doesn’t seem impressed and accelerates along a fortunately traffic-jam-free Sheikh Zayed Road. The Burj Dubai towers over a cloudless city. This baby may be born any second.
23 Hours Earlier: ‘My waters have just broken. I am in labour.’ This is what I’ve been waiting to hear. Every debate (government or private hospital?), every saving (if we skip dessert we might be able to get the nicer blankets), and every decision (what about going to England for a few weeks?) points towards today. I feel dizzy.
Nine Months Earlier: ‘I don’t really want to go to the cinema tonight. Shall we just stay in instead?’ You don’t always see life’s biggest changes coming, do you? Sometimes they just happen.
Will Milner is our online group editor. Next week we’ll be looking at things that make us cheerful in Dubai. Please email in your happy thoughts!