Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Solid Gold (6 Months)
You are actually nearly a week over 6 months now but due to bushfires cutting off the freeway between Newcastle and Sydney we have been trapped for a few days at your grandparents’ house without my laptop (or a spare pare of undies). Hence my tardiness. (But also, you know this monthly letter thing is a deadline of sorts and we know how good I am with those.)
Let me start by saying that you are the Master of The Bounce. When we hold you vertically you like to bounce and bounce and bounce. It’s very Riverdance on crack cocaine, all we’re missing are the lace up shoes and the twirling Celtic drums. And that little smoking pipe thing. The other night when your friend Toby came to visit, he of the dampened toes, we held you both up, face to face and then you started your insane jumping and he just stared, fascinated but also deeply disturbed. Then you had a bath together (which meant two babies in the bath and five adults hovering over the bath), which started well but ended in tears when you started to bounce in a horizontal position and kicked water into poor Toby’s eyes. He still loves you but I’m sure he’ll plot his own revenge.
You are now taller but since you are often horizontal we call that ‘longer’. Your dada told the Baby Capsule hire service that you were 70cm in length but he based that on lying you beside Mr Caterpillar who has a 60cm ruler on his plush purple body and stuffed caterpillars are not known to be truly reliable measuring devices.
However, we do know that you are exactly 7.12 kg (with clothes). Well done you. And also well done me because that was basically all my breast milk that went into those 7.12 kilos. I look at your chubby thighs with great pride and think “I made those”.
Of course all that will change now and I will no longer be able to claim credit for building you up because you are officially onto solids. How exciting! But also scary because now you have to start trying new things. Like yoghurt which you loved and avocado which you hated with a strong and bitter hate so fulsome, so all consuming that I was forced to stick a finger into your mouth to remove all vestiges of the loathsome snot green fruit/vegetable. Not only that, when I put you to my breast to wash away the evil taste you could still sense the nanomicrobes clinging to your tastebuds which in turn must have attached to my nipple and tainted it with the Evil Avocado and then suddenly my breast milk which has always been such a big hit with you and your chubby thighs was deemed similarly loathsome and rejected with much wailing and Screaming Tomato impressions. I had to go into the bathroom and wash my breasts before you would deign to even look at them and I felt a strong maternal urge to hunt down and destroy every single avocado in the world.
You have started sleeping on your tummy. I last tried to swaddle you around Christmas when your previously marvelous sleep routine went to shit. It was all that rolling that did it because in the dead of night you would roll onto your stomach and then howl at the strangeness of it and also because you couldn’t roll back. The sleep-on-tummy thing was a little bit freaky for your father and I and for several nights we would leap up and flash our mobile phones at your cot to check that you were still breathing. Even having mastered the art of rolling you were still waking and crying and we felt like screaming ourselves because after having slept for some time from 7.30 to 5am with nary a peep we were now back to the bad old days and nights of 2 hourly feeds.
But at 6 months, so Ms Babylove tells us, you are old enough to be “sleep-trained”. And so you were. It was a horrible first night with me lying in bed beside you in your cot, listening to you shout obscenities for a few hours on end but then it was over. One night it took. Suddenly you remembered all the good things about sleeping for ten hours, and so did we.
We still have an early morning feed at 5.30 in the morning, and for those I’m grateful. I’m tired and woolly headed and you’re all sleepy and floppy and as we sit in that half light I hold you and nurse you and love you with all my might. I have been remembering my own mother, and in my muddle headed state I wondered if I was having flashbacks of feeding as a baby myself, the smell of the milk and her softness and the heaviness of the dark and the feel of her cotton nightie against my face. She was thinner then and her hair was long and I think I wound it in my hands just as you wind my hair in your hands.
Thankyou for that.
It was hard at times but I loved nursing you, I loved that it was me that solely nourished you with my milk. And although I and my breasts are looking forward to time off, it’s a little sad to let it go. One morning, while I slept in, your dad took you for a walk along the breakwater at Nobby’s lighthouse and then to breakfast at a café and when you got hungry he simply gave you the yoghurt off his bircher muesli. I was aghast when I finally rang to ask where you both were, primarily because I had bowling ball breasts that needed your attending to but also because your father told me you were happily asleep having eaten several teaspoons of yoghurt. It was the first time that you hadn’t needed me and it stung.
When I was infertile the most commonly used phrase was “just relax”. Now, it’s “enjoy this time”. Sometimes I think if I had a dollar for every time a kind well wisher smiled and whispered those three magic words I’d have enough money to hire a nanny so I could finish my deadlines and really enjoy this time. But mostly I hug you a little tighter because I realize it’s true. (Unlike the “just relax” comment which is complete bollocks).
You have been with us for six months. Six wonderful, miraculous, joyous months. Yesterday your father said he could not imagine a time without you. Neither can I. And I look forward to your growing and experiencing more of this incredible, beautiful, flawed and fragile world in the days to come.
Sans avocado, of course.
Your very own