Saturday, 29 May 2010
Thursday, 27 May 2010
The weekend felt like an elaborate game of 'pass the baby' and at times I had to sit on my hands to stop myself from snatching back my boy.
But it was a real privilege to be able to introduce John to his great grandmothers and to witness the tenderness, hopefulness and sheer joy that his sleepy presence engendered.
I'm constantly amazed by the transformative power that a baby can have on the world.
Wednesday, 26 May 2010
Today, I held my boy whilst two women plunged needles into his chubby little thighs and then I cuddled him whilst he screamed.
The thought of strangers hurting my baby has been haunting me for weeks and there's been many a time that I've imagined my helpless horror at the sight of the needles and my heartbreak at the sound of his sobs.
It's always disconcerting when reality tuns out to be an improvement on your imaginings and today I left the surgery with a quiet sense of relief.
Yes, I felt as though I'd betrayed him and yes I wanted to smother him in kisses and take away his pain. But his first set of immunisations were over and although there was a moment of pure horror in the silence before his screams, it was not as bad as I'd feared.
All the same, the experience left me unsettled and craving the comfort that only cake can bring. So as the little boy slept I soothed my guilty conscience by baking a chocolate fudge cake.
Loving can be a painful and lonely pursuit, but there's an amazing sense of well being that descends as you lick the chocolate-fudge mix off the spoon.
Thursday, 20 May 2010
Yesterday, I folded dozens of tiny vests, packed away stacks of little blue sleepsuits, and cleared out drawers filled with mini hats, mittens and booties.
Finally, after weeks of stalling, it was time to consign the newborn baby clothes to the loft.
I remember hanging these little things on the line for the very first time just a few short weeks ago, before the boy was born. I was enthralled by their smallness, enraptured by the sweet, nostalgic smell of Comfort and impatient for them to be animated from within by chubby baby limbs.
Now, less than two months on, I can no longer fasten the poppers or stretch his arms through the sleeves, and have had to admit that they no longer fit.
Packing away these little things, many of which have never been worn, feels like closing the first chapter of John's little life and makes me feel hollow inside.
I waited so very long for this baby to arrive and his babyhood seems to be slipping by so very quickly.
I'm aware that if I don't learn to let go, parenting is likely to break my heart every day for the rest of my life.
Wednesday, 19 May 2010
Tuesday, 18 May 2010
Friday, 14 May 2010
Wednesday, 12 May 2010
Three unnecessary outfit changes meant that by the time I arrived at the photo session a scrum of mothers had already assembled, each clutching an overdressed child.
I've never been a fan of studio portraits, but this morning I was excited.For despite having taken some 350 pictures of my boy in the weeks since his birth, none of them seemed quite right.
Somehow, I had always used the wrong angle or picked the wrong moment, for instead of capturing an image of my boy, they showed me an overly-large baby with a prominent forehead and rather too many chins.
Sometimes this baby was smiling, sometimes he was yawning, sometimes he was staring blankly at the lens, but he never quite looked like John and I despite loving each and every picture that I had taken, I was perpetually disappointed.
A professional, I decided, would do a better job, and so despite the fact that his nappy had leaked onto his rather too-tight outfit and his skin had broken out in a fresh smattering of spots, I patiently entertained my baby for two long hours whilst other mothers grinned manically at their posing offspring and then sulked when they still refused to smile.
I needn't have bothered. The professional used no better angles than me and also snapped at exactly the wrong time. Her photos showed a splodgy baby, propped uncomfortably on a cushion and gurning at the camera.
"You're spoilt for choice mummy," she said. "There are so many lovely ones to choose from."
I looked at the pictures of John twisting his features into a contorted smile and nodded unenthusiastically.
The pictures didn't show the cutest baby ever to have been born, they didn't capture all my hopes for his future or my memories of his first magical weeks on earth and they didn't portray the hazy love that surrounds him like an aura and colours my perception of him now and always.
If this is objectivity I'll leave it well alone.
Tuesday, 11 May 2010
People say that time flies but I think it only seems that way in retrospect. In the present, life passes slowly.
There are many hours in a day and many minutes in the hours. The days trail each other calmly through the waning weeks and our achievements are accomplished one stitch, one word, one chore, one step and one smile at a time.
Perhaps the key to happiness is embracing the slow, repetitive nature of existence, and remembering that life only lags in the present. In a few years time we'll remember these days as full, fun and fleeting, and our hearts will feel bruised with regret that they passed us by so quickly.
Sunday, 9 May 2010
I traced my first pair of butterfly wings in the endless weeks before the babe was born. It was a strange, static time, charged with nine months of anticipation and tempered with sleepless nights full of trepidation.
The babe in my belly was both real and imagined, a very solid physical presence and at the same time shapeless, genderless and surreal. Its presence ought to have been imminent and yet as day followed weary day and my due date became a distant memory, its arrival seemed ever more remote, and it became harder to picture it lying in my arms.
So, in the quiet of the slow afternoons, I traced butterflies onto rainbow-coloured card and threaded my sewing machine with silver thread. I imagined little eyes looking up at the fluttering wings, felt little feet kicking to the rhythm of my heart, and hoped that the babe would arrive before the butterflies were hung.
Six weeks on, the butterflies are finally ready to fly and the little boy, who is so much better than the babe I longingly imagined is ready to look up at them.
Rainbow-bright butterfly wings twirling happily on skeins of silver thread. This, and so many other things, make me happy beyond belief.
Friday, 7 May 2010
Last night, whilst ballot papers were counted and the nation's future decided, the Gordon family slept. Straight through the small hours of the morning, straight through the dark hours before daybreak and straight through the first hopeful strains of the pre-dawn chorus.
Only once daylight started streaming through the curtains and a hung parliament was practically inevitable, did the little boy awake. I blinked open my eyes with a feeling of guilty panic, and realised that my little boy had slept through the night.
It's an achievement that's left me feeling rested, elated, proud and a little bit sad that he can manage so well without me for so long...
Thursday, 6 May 2010
It's exactly six weeks since life changed beyond all recognition and slowly, slowly, we're starting to find our rhythm.
I no longer wake worrying that I won't be able to take a shower, I no longer panic when his bottom lip quivers, I can recognise the weary strains of a grumpy, tired cry and sometimes I can even make it stop.
In the last few days, some housework has been done, some blog posts have been written and yesterday I surprised myself with my daring and prowess when I took the little boy to the shops.
Our days have absolutely no routine, but they're settling into a rhythm nonetheless. It's amazing how much can change and how much can be accomplished in six short weeks.
Wednesday, 5 May 2010
Summer might not officially start until June but May is undoubtedly my favourite summer month.
There's a sense of excited anticipation in the air as the days get warmer, the nights get shorter and the holidays get closer.
It's as if the sunny days are a last-minute dress-rehearsal for summer; they don't take themselves too seriously, there are a few hiccups along the way, but they perform with all their might and are often the brightest and warmest of the season.
The hedgerows wear their new, green coats with a dandyish swagger, the trees battle to outdo one another with their excessive displays of splendour and people visibly relax as they feel the sun on their skin and smile as catch their first scent of barbecued steak.
It's warm enough to leave the house coat-less but not so warm that we have to worry about shaved legs and summer shoes, and even if it rains we can relax in the knowledge that it's still only May and the summer has not yet begun.
Above all, May is a month full of freedom, as I will always associate it with exams, and I cannot help but revel in the guilty pleasure that I feel in reading in the garden instead of revising late into the night.
Tuesday, 4 May 2010
It's something that James dreamed about long before the little boy was conceived and something he planned for long before he was born. The infant life jacket was bought weeks before the cot!
On Monday, five weeks and four days after John arrived in the world, he took his first trip in a canoe.
It was a day full of high expectations, bright sunshine, new places, blustery breezes, hot chocolate, doting grandparents, photographs, and momentous family firsts.
We might have only been on the water for less than an hour but it was wonderful to see James' smile, to feel the rock of the canoe, and bask in a sense of inevitability and accomplishment.
I still get phased by the practicalities of baby-maintenance in public and there were a few moments where I almost let the unfamiliarity of the situation get the better of me. But the boy was wonderfully calm and after some initial uncertainty about the comfort of the life jacket he seemed quite at peace on the water and used it as yet another opportunity to sleep.
We left Maesbury with fresh air on our faces and satisfaction in our smiles. It would have been easy to have resented this over-anticipated experience but it was actually a great privilege to help James realise a long-held ambition and to be part of the picture when the dream came true.