Neale family: Extracts from Julia's diary: October 1999

Neale family: Extracts from Julia's diary: October 1999

Piano tuner comes and spends nearly 2 hours bring us up to 442''

Premiere of Tosca, non-event for the chorus but new GMD is good. I meet Robert Gilder, the agent, at the aftershow party but am sidelined by the soprano soloist who is also introduced to him. Obviously he''s more interested in her than me - she''s just sung her first Tosca.

Appointment with Dr Hengsteler and the midwife who works with him Frau de Haën. I tell her my fears about losing control of the pregnancy and she is very reassuring - of course you won''t have to have a Kaiserschnitt just because it''s got a cyst, of course you can go Ambulant, everybody does these days, it''s the best option. She does a blood test and diagnoses me as iron deficient, probably why I''ve been feeling tired. I see that she has the Janet Balaskas book ''Active Birth'' on her shelf and note down the details. She also recommends a book called ''Hebammensprechstunde''. There is a leaflet advertising information evenings ''Geburt ohne Angst'' at St Joseph''s where she also works - I seize upon it and read with delight: lots of mention of natural birth and, wonder of wonders, a tour of the birth room including Geburtswanne.

Am very impressed with Frau H. and decide to do her Geburtsvorbereitungskurs, starting in January... Leave her room with an armful of leaflets which always makes me happy. While I have been talking to the midwife John has been offered a cup of coffee - typical, I''m the bloody patient, but he gets all the treats.

Next the consultation with Dr H. In the ultraschall he checks everything with his usual thoroughness. Everything is OK. and the cyst seems to be a bit smaller but he''s not sure about the sex. He hunts around a bit trying to get a good view and suddenly there it is: between the 2 Oberschenkel dangling down is the unmistakable organ in all it''s glory. Dr H points it out to me and I nod in agreement, ''Oh no, it looks like I''m going to have a boy''. Wonder if they offer any special conselling for women who think they are going to have girls who turn out to be boys.

Deciding the sex is crucial for the diagnosis of the cyst - it can''t be an ovarial cyst but is more likely to have something to do with the kidneys.

Leave the surgery in a state of confusion, I had so firmly orientated myself around the idea of having a girl, now it could be a boy. Am secretly delighted though, I had believed that I would have only daughters (Heather Rhodes prediction of 2 girls when she read my hand years ago) so it would be good to get a boy in first.

Ask John what he feels now it could be a boy but he is non-committal and sceptical, he didn''t see the screen as clearly as me. Perhaps women become good at interpreting the pictures quicker than men.

First session of Yoga für Schwangere. I meet Stephanie, a Canadian who has recently moved to Freiburg. She is diabetic too - I give her our phone number in case she want to meet up with John.

Immediately notice an improvement in my ''Beckenboden'' muscle tone from the Yoga. Am pleased that I don''t seem to be stiff at all, I must be fit. Start focusing on baby boys rather than girls in thhe supermarket. A lady in our block of flats has an adorable son of about 3 yrs, I often see them on her bike together. Hope ours turns out like that...

After a tiring week of rehearsals, feel that I would rather not do ''Kiss me Kate'' and anyway, the cover they have already engaged for me has started. Talk to Herr Böhm and he wants to keep me in - mainly because Patricia, whose also pregnant, has been off sick for 2 month and may not be coming back.

I say I will think about it and talk it over with John when I get back. Decide there''s no point in giving up completely - I can use the theatre to practice and if I feel an evening rehearsal is going on too long, I can go early.

Have a meeting with Herr Böhm and the production team and feel happy. I won''t be in the first number anyway because the costume department can''t make me a costume that will look reasonable. I can go at go at 8pm under the Mutterschutz Gesetz if I feel tired.

Yoga again, a tough session: lots of leaning up against walls and curling up inside doors. Afterwards Stephanie and I meet up with our respective partners for a coffee.

Muscles very stiff, John has to massage me.

I am in agony of pulled muscles, John is again called upon to provide massage services.

Fax from Stephanie - were you stiff too? Not ''alf!

First coaching this Spielzeit with Rainer goes well Then meet Martin S. for coffee and look round the baby shops of Basel.

2 week appointment at the Uniklinik. I tell baby that it is going to be on tv today and it is important that it keeps still and shows us his/her genitals if possible.

At first Frau Vogelgesang is not there - it is some young doctor who doesn''t seem to know what he''s doing. Then she turns up and takes over, yes it''s definitely a boy but the cyst remains a mystery, all other organs seem to be working normally. ''Ah, it''s just done a pipi'' she exclaims - the baby obviously seeking to demonstrate that his kidneys are in working order. Prof. Pömpeler, the Oberarzt, is called in to have a look, you can tell he''s the consultant because of that superior manner. ''What age is she?'' he says, meaning me, ''33'' I reply. He can''t work out what it is either, and addressing me directly this time, tells me not to worry that they don''t know what it is. Frau V. adds ''if it should occur to us what it could be, we''ll give you a call''.

John and I go for coffee in the hospital bistro to mull things over.

During a break in rehearsal, sneak backstage to hear a snatch of Salome, a British girl Anne Williams-King is guesting. She is tiny - my build.

Come away and think I really really want to do this role some day.

Dance rehearsal at 10am. Andrew sidles up to me and asks ''how''s the singing teapot then'' - my new nickname. Tell all the girls and we collapse in giggles.

Meet Volker to make a tape for Aix but am too tired after the morning rehearsal and in lousy voice. Come home depressed and ''in a state'' but am soon revived by the smell of delicious food being cooked in our kitchen:

Stephanie and Leif for dinner in the evening, we talk about diabetes, computers and babies. John cooks an excellent meal and the company is good too.

Later Amnon rings to congratulate us on the pregnancy, he''s just off to Chicago so we don''t talk much. Vaguely promises about coming to see us in Freiburg, perhaps, possibly...

Low spirits after yesterday''s tape experience. Mull it over with John and decide not to bother. nearly forget to vote in the local elections.

Fun dance rehearsal in the evening, piecing together ''too darn hot''.

John has a Christmas gig, bastard. Someone rang him up from England and asked him to do a Messiah. If I had a Christmas gig, I could buy that fabulous pregnancy evening dress from Formes.

Another dance rehearsal in the morning then do some shopping in the market.

Come home and my back is aching, so get John to massage it with oil - he is getting very good at doing this.

It is a nice evening and at 5.30pm we decide to go out to collect the last of our wedding photos and visit the chemist. Just before we leave, I notice I have a light bleeding. I ring Dr H. and ask if I can come straight away for a quick check. So we call in first and have to wait a while - it is the end of surgery and he has had a last minute rush. He looks tired when we finally get to see him but after checking both me and baby announces that the bleeding is not coming from inside the Muttermund which is good news. I wonder if it has been caused by the dance rehearsal and he prescribes no physical exertion and no sex for a week, so I am signed off sick.

Take my favourite baby sleepsuit to bed with me as reassurance and sleep well.

Up at 8.30am: how on earth shall I fill the day?. Send off a few faxes (Stephanie, Aix) and wait anxiously for John to get up so that I can start my singing practice. Start anyway and get frustrated - voice is crap, something has definitely changed in a week: whenever I try to support there doesn''t seem t be any room to do it so I end up shoving. Top is flat, not usually my problem, usually it''s the middle where I have intonation problems. Maybe it''s just as well I haven''t got a Christmas gig after all.

Another evening massage from John who has since read up on the subject and regards himself an expert: ''I''m not supposed to massage your inner heels'' he announces. ''How do you know that'' I ask, surprised, ''Oh, I read it in one of your books''.

Lower back is still causing me trouble, the worst thing seems to be turning over in bed at night. Am starting to feel seriously pregnant - maybe this is when all the problems start.

Hurrah, Paddington tapes have arrived. I ordered them last week from BBC online, having decided that baby should have something more classy than the free Noddy John brought back. I adored them as a child, put them now on and at once am lulled by the sound of Michael Horderns voice. Baby seems to like the music.

John and I have been playing a lot of piano duets recently. We''ve broadened our repertoire and often I can feel baby kicking too. Junior''s favourite piece seems to be Finale of Mozart Symphony in Eb K543, so we always try to include that one in our recitals.

John is envious of me ''it''s not fair you being the one whose pregnant, you''re having all the fun''. Try to convince him that lower backache isn''t much fun at all. He says he dreamed about the baby last night.

An energetic morning shopping and buying things. Come home with a new essential oil, lavender, which I try out in mum''s essence burner after my evening bath. John''s comment: ''pooh, it smells like a whore''s boudoir in here'' but I ignore him... he''s only jealous.