When I was 4, I lived with my family in Penang and on one memorable day I nearly died there too when I happily flung myself into the Grownups Pool at the Chinese Swimming Pools.
My parents and little sisters were eating lunch by the fountain. No one saw me run off in my kiddy brown skirted swimming costume with my Hiawatha rubber ring under one arm and by the time they realised I was gone I was hovering, suspended in greenish water, eyes boggling, lips firmly pressed together, marveling at the way the filtered sunlight played against the tiles.
In this moment there was no panic, more a sort of curious calm.
The world’s volume was suddenly switched down, reduced to the faint gush of the distant fountain, the rush of water in my ears and my own heartbeat. After what seemed like years I looked up to see a Brown Man in Batik Togs squatting on the edge of the pool, watching me.
I raised my arm and he lifted me out and that was that.
It’s been nearly 8 weeks since Tricky was born and that means I’m nearly all out of Ecstatic Birthing Hormones. This is the good stuff, the stuff that makes you ignore the tiredness and the ravenous hunger and the rectocele (yeah, go on, google that, I dare you) and the sore back and the flabby belly because you’re floating happily on your Hiawatha rubber ring inflated with pure motherly doting goodness.
It’s not that I’m out of the Motherly Doting Goodness, because I’m not, I’m reeking with the damn stuff – it’s splattered all over my bedroom floor, it’s just the other bits are starting to catch up with me.
On Thursday night the short film I wrote last year had a screening at a local cinema and I was there with C and Tricky and most of my family and a whole bunch of other people too and my face nearly fell apart with all the smiling and my head nearly exploded with all the convivial social chatting.
Because with the tiredness comes the shrunken vocabulary and the inability to focus.
I hear the voices, the questions, the conversations, but they seem oddly filtered, like through smoke or water.
Also, when standing about, I have a tendency now to rock, not in a groovy frayed denim and electric guitar kind of way, but in a bobbing boat kind of way – even when I’m not holding the baby. I noticed this for the first time when C took Tricky for a walk around the park and I stood holding the pram and after a few minutes noticed that I was rocking my handbag to sleep. (My friend Michelle tells me that I will find myself rocking the empty shopping trolley next.)
And then also there’s the soft haze of incredulity, the lordy lordy, My Whockety cloud of astonishment each morning when I wake (after two hours or perhaps three and once or twice five!) and see that lovely rounded currant bun face and those blue/brown eyes (colour yet to be finalized) and that worried wrinkled brow.
In the first week I could see my baby’s face everywhere, in the shadows on the blinds, the rolled up sheets on my bed. I saw his almond eyes in the grain of the wooden chest of drawers, the ceiling beams and in the whorled skin on my own fingertips. It was like being perpetually stoned on joy. In this state I can forgive all my shortcomings, the baby vomit on my cardigan, the breast milk drips on the bedroom floor, the failure to respond to text messages and emails.
Or, maybe, I just forget.
I have taken to carrying a notebook around with me because finally I got way too embarrassed to ask my dad for the tenth time when he was going in to have his knee operated on and what Grumpy Grandad’s new address was at the retirement village. I’ve still got a script deadline in October (and one in December and one in February) and it’s like squeezing blood out of a stone (or any number of constipated scenes, see previous posts) trying to get these written with my fuzzy blurry brain.
Eight weeks since I jumped into this wide wet pool of motherhood and my head is still below water.
I am still marveling, still mostly calm and curious, the light is still captivating, but those outside voices are getting louder.
Quite soon I will need to lift up my head and breathe.
I can’t wait to rejoin the land of the living, recover my brain and my body too, but I’ll also mourn the loss of this hovering underwater place, this soft focus, warm haze, babylove world.
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