Monday, December 18, 2006

ZZZZ is for Zombie Mother (Five months)

Dear Tricky

You are five months now which seems insane, because if anyone had asked me if I could survive five months of broken sleep; broken like a broken thing into itty bitty shards and then scattered over a bare wooden floor to be trodden on by soft, unprotected feet, I would have said no way and that sleep deprivation is a cruel and inhumane torture that turns otherwise sane people into the Living Dead. I had heard the horror stories from other new mothers, the tales of screaming and wailing – and that was the neighbours as they bashed on the walls in protest - and indeed the memory of those nights when you wanted to be fed hourly is still pressed firmly into the playdough of my mind. But things have got better, there is light at the end of the tunnel where the Zombie Mother lives, and the last two nights you have actually slept all the way through. I don’t know if it’s because I’m trying to feed you in a more regulated way or because I decided to swaddle you again, but whatever, it worked for two nights and if I have to swaddle you until you’re eighteen I’m prepared to do that if it means we all get some sleep.

Because there’s work to be done! Yes, even though Christmas is bearing down on us like a demented steamtrain with all the festive fun that entails, even though I’m looking forward to our first ever Christmas together, still the deadlines niggle and whirr and click, for both your father (who even as I speak is muttering like a crazy man at his computer screen) and I. So there’s not quite as much festive fun yet, although I know it’s coming because there are not one but two Christmas trees up in the Big House which your cousin O, the youngest of the Naughty Nephews has helped to decorate.

Just by the by, Cousin O is your new best friend now. Almost everyday he appears suddenly by your playmat. He smiles at you and you smile at him and it’s a complete love-in smileathon and then he lies down next to you and allows you to grip his hair and says gently “Please let go…”

Now and then he will dance and sing to you and that’s a treat for everyone, because his version of Rockin’ Robin is so damn cute. C and I pretend to be solemnly clacking away at our keyboards but everynow and then we catch each other’s eye and silently snort into our screens. On very very special days, Cousin O will do one of his world famous puppet shows with all your finger puppets. These are, inevitably, musicals, and I think we can say that Cousin O has a bright future on the stage awaiting him and his twinkle toes.

But perhaps you too will be struck hard with the showtunes stick because of late we have been utilizing Cousin O’s ‘Honeybear’ to help you with your daytime naps.

Honeybear is one of those musical thingys with a string you pull to make him pop up and down as ‘Teddybear’s Picnic’ hypnotically tinkles away. Honeybear is both wonderful and sinister. His soothing sounds put you to sleep but I worry that you will become addicted and that he will become crucial to your Nap Routine. Worse is when you are almost but not quite asleep and the damn string runs out. Someone then has to sneak into your room and pull the string which makes a nasty clack clack noise and often abruptly wakes you leading to accusing stares and Screaming Tomato.

You are fascinated by balls and baubles and your father shaving in the morning. You have started to enjoy your bath which is a relief because your father was determined to make you love the water. In actual fact you seemed to hate it so much we eventually stopped bothering to bath you altogether. But this month, you like the water and you love to kick the shit out of your new bath toys.

You gave up the dummy a few weeks back, not through strict weaning on our part but through general slackness and forgetting to sterilize the damn things or carry them in the change bag. Now you suck thoughtfully on your index finger and I smile at your fetching cuteness and sometimes you suck on two fingers and your thumb at the same time and make yourself throw up and then I frown because Mummy is weary of wiping spew off the floor.

Rolling is your thing. You lie on a rug on the floor and roll this way and that reaching for your toys…a soft ball, a blue giraffe, a stripy monkey, Mr Caterpillar with whom you still enjoy a ferocious tussle and of course Cousin O’s hair. The other day I was typing away and you had gone silent beside me and I looked down at you and you were staring up at me. It gave me a shock at first, you looked like some crazy Midwich Cuckoo baby but then I decided you were looking at me with love not psychosis and that made me happy.

I think maybe this month is the month you actually saw me and knew me as your mother and loved me. There was a moment when I put you into your cradle and we locked eyes and I started to cry because I realised just how much I completely and utterly love you and I knew that you loved me too.

Just in case you think I am being hopelessly mushy here, I'll just add quickly that your father and I have decided to break that habit we have of chewing on your ears. It's done with love and also because your ears are so soft and cute but we appreciate that all that chewing may not retain the softness and cuteness.

So even though they're doubly delicious because of those regular baths you're having, you can consider the ears chew-free from now on.

Your very own

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Baby And Book

There are certain skills that nearly all who enter the wonderful world of the Arts in Australia must own or acquire.

I’m not talking about the drinking or the schmoozing or the on-tour adultery.

I’m talking about the juggling.

At some stage every single actor must be taught to juggle. Usually in drama class, usually while studying ‘street theatre’ or ‘circus skills’ or that most terrifying and loathsome of all acting courses ‘finding your inner clown’.

You dabble in Chekov, you move a little Mamet and then suddenly everyone is handed three bean bags or skittle things or those balls made with rice and balloons and then it’s all about eyelines and balance and G rated gags (unless you’re going to get one of those casino gigs which I hear are very lucrative).

We do this not because we need to understand the ‘coarse arts’ or are about to seriously delve into commedia but because the employment situation for actors is such crap that everyone needs to know how to busk and /or run a kiddy birthday party. Not everyone, I admit, but basically if your name isn’t Cate Blanchett or Nicole Kidman then you’ve got either an inner clown or a fairy and you’ve accepted money to brightly utter the immortal words “Time to cut the cake!”.

This is possibly why I became a writer.

I couldn’t juggle, no matter how garish my floppy pants were, how bright and cheery my braces. My inner clown inhaled her own rubber nose and died a horrible death and my fairy wafted too close to a birthday candle and combusted in a puff of glitter. This was a relief until I realised early on that writers juggle too. Not rice-and-balloon balls or bean bags, but deadlines which are infinitely heavier and far more spiky and dangerous.

So here’s the thing.

I have a commission to write a book.

It’s based on this blog or at least the bits of blog leading up to this.

There is a publisher. There is an editor. There is a deadline…February 15th

And there’s a whole lot of self doubt and worry and fear but also, also…great excitement.

Yesterday I said to C: don’t speak to me please, I’m working on my book.

There was a slight pause as we solemnly pondered over those words.

And then we both snorted like ferrets (yes, they do snort, some of them. The snorty kind) and silently shrieked because it was too brilliantly jolly.

I wasn’t going to mention it here but the thing is, writing this is becoming a huge part of my life. If I don’t mention it my posts from now on will be limited to Tricky’s burgeoning headsize and his antics with certain stuffed invertebrates.

And I’m juggling just as hard as I can – the book and the baby and a couple of other deadlines besides, but the book and the baby most of all.

I’ve got till February the 15th to complete the manuscript and if I don’t, well let’s just say they know where I live. The publisher sent me a Christmas card yesterday with a whole bunch of pink cupcakes on the cover. It sparked several thoughts, all at once… ooh card, isn’t that nice… sweet mother of god, is it Christmas already, fuck I’m running out of time… cupcakes mmm mmm…actually the gum drops on top of those cakes look like my gnawed leathery nipples…

and finally it reminded me of those long ago birthday parties, those will-clown-for-food-and-spare-change type gigs…

Would write more now but baby is screaming, clock is ticking.

Must go apply rubber nose and get those balls back in the air.

Monday, December 11, 2006

much like the double sided Kandinsky

This morning at 5.45 am I finished feeding Tricky and then put him on the bed.

And first I thought look how beautiful he is, and how sweet he looks fast asleep next to his dad.

And then I thought wow, his head looks really big now, imagine trying to push that through your clacker.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

One Year Ago...

...Hope came charging back into our lives, swished her tarty party skirt, clacked her fancy high heels together and 'bout it?

How 'bout it indeed.

It seems incredible, miraculous, insane.

That this...

And this...

And much more of this...

could lead to this...

Friday, December 01, 2006

She said what?

C and I watched this amazing show last night.

Well in fact it wasn't that amazing, it was just some bog standard crap tv but it was about this woman who claimed to be able to understand what babies are trying to communicate through their array of piercing shrieks and cries.

This seemed ridiculous at first but then she (let's call her Babytalk Lady) explained that she was musically attuned as it were, and when her own baby was born Babytalk Lady was able to remember and recognise the noises he made at different times.

And hence, eight years on, and having closely watched many many babies (slightly unnerving don't you think?), she was able to create a dictionary of baby language which any parent, of any nationality, could use to identify their baby's needs. Apparently they are formed from the baby's physical response to the need.

She shared five of these with us but I am assuming there are many more since she has a dvd to flog somewhere. Here are the five and their meanings:

Neh ..... I am hungry, damn you!
This was a sort of general crying sound but you could distinctly hear a 'n' sound. It is created by the sucking action of the tongue against the roof of the mouth, which makes sense when you think about it.

Ow...(as in cow) Bed! Put me to bed before I have the welfare people onto you.
This is the sound for tired and I have to admit that I had already noticed that when Tricky was tired he would make this mournful owowowow shout.

Eh...burp me, for the milk it is mixing with the air and churning in a hellish manner in my gullet...
This is a sort of short eh eh eh kind of noise. Babytalk Lady says if they make that noise in the middle of the night one needs only to throw bubba over the shoulder and burp him/her before putting back down for restful repose.

Eairh....My tummy hurts, I want to make the bottom burp noise...
This is a sort of longer sound then the noise for burp me. Babytalk Lady says this will not be the quick burp back in bed scenario and probably means you are in for another hour of 'colic hold' ie cycling junior's legs like a pair of egg beaters.

Heh...I'm not happy. My clothes are too tight. I'm too hot, no wait I'm too cold. I'm worried about the proximity of those lemons...
Or "discomfort" as she described it. This noise was a sort of breathless huffing sort of cry.

The babies will often combine sounds because they are cunning like that but eventually one will dominate and when you have attended to that need the next will make itself known and then the next and the next and then you will drop with exhaustion.

Today I have heard Tricky say Neh when I was taking too long swapping him from one boob to the other, eh quickly followed by him spewing over my lap and owowow at which point I lay him down in his cot and he immediately closed his eyes and went to sleep.

It is both satisfying and also slightly creepy because I've been reading Spot And His Dad and singing Galumph Went The Little Green Frog to him over and over and for all I know he wants Proust and La Boheme.

Sadly, Babytalk lady did not divulge the secret words for... You scare me with your smiling or... These socks with the crocodile face on the toes are not cute they are demeaning or... For the love of God, drink some coffee mama, quickly!