Monday, November 27, 2006

Bored in the nursery

Disappointingly I created the last post over the week gone by and it managed to disappear somewhere other... somewhat like the last 3 months of my life.

I couldn't really tell you very much about the two weeks since my last post - in fact, without this blog and the contents of my 'sent items' folder in my emails I couldn't tell you anything about the last 3 months at all.

What I do recall is basically a flicker book of repeated moments, most of which involve breastfeeding. However, since I put my back out and have started feeding Charlie lying down, even those memories are fading as about 20 seconds after I lie down beside him and latch him on to a boob, I fall asleep. In fact, I am getting more sleep than is publically acceptable for a new mother. The downside to this is that so is Charlie which means we are staying up progressively later and later every night, 'we' being Charlie because all mothers refer to their offspring as 'we', I've noticed. 'We had a good feed this morning didn't we?' 'Didn't we do a good poo?' 'We love our bouncy chair' 'Aren't we going slowly around the bend?'.

Tonight we were awake until 10pm (with a few catnaps thrown in) and we are now having nightmares about something. Not sure what a baby has nightmares about. Being left alone in the cot for five minutes while Mum sneaks in a crafty trip to the loo? The boob falling out before we're finished? Perhaps it's the shark attack we let him watch on TV tonight. Charlie isn't allowed to watch TV because of the reported link between children watching fast-moving images on TV and hyperactivism, however while he was feeding I let him watch a very slow-moving and beautifully filmed nature documentary, in the middle of which a shark ate a seal in slow motion. I somehow doubt his baby mind is dreaming up sharks however and so I'm quite concerned about this early predisposition to nightmares.

I do try to make Charlie's days interesting, however as he is not so easily amused these days and he is also not yet fully able to amuse himself due to lack of motor skills, making his day interesting means paying him a lot of attention, which means that I don't get anything done. So, between getting up, feeding him, dressing him, changing him, amusing him and getting him to bed there's not much time to formulate day-specific memories. Some afternoons he can happily sit playing with his hands and cooing to himself but some days, any attempt on my part to have anything resembling a moment to myself results in swift revenge - shouting, yelling, screaming and, if I am so bold as to stay in the kitchen buttering my toast through all three of these stages, inconsolable sobbing, as though he had been left alone at the end of time. Interestingly, (and appropriately) inconsolable sobbing can be consoled by in-action. After I finally can't stand it any more and rush to the side of my offspring over-flowing with motherly love (amongst other things) I usually find him happily playing with his fingers, or fast asleep.

Actually, Charlie's occasional fits of rage are becoming more and more well-timed. He can sense an important phone call before the phone ever rings and can time his once-a-day poo for the precise moment we are leaving the house 10 minutes late. I suspect I may have a budding Machiavelli sobbing quietly to himself in that cradle. At least he'll give me something to remember at some point.

Soon, I hope.


Saturday, November 11, 2006

The winds of change...

Well here we are, 10 weeks in and still alive. It's actually quite difficult to remember life without Charlie. It's as if I've had the mental builders in ripping out old memories and putting up new ones. Not that I forget what it was like to be free to do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted... I just... forget what it was like. Or rather, I remember, but in my memory Charlie is somehow there, like having a dream in which you are talking to Ghengis Khan and it's perfectly normal. In other words, I suppose, it feels as if Charlie has always been around. This must be another one of those sneaky Motherly Love tricks designed to obliterate the blissful memories of going brightly off to the spa with friends, doing a spot of shoe-shopping on the way home to ones immaculate appartment where one puts on a gay little dress and trips merrily out of the house to dance all night with some young swain. I must have memories like that, surely?

Perhaps this is why you see couples arguing about events that happened 20 years ago before they had their children - in fact neither of them can remember a damn thing and the argument is the process by which they invent memories that suit them. 'You wore that brown suit that I liked' 'No I didn't, I wore my old chinos' 'No you didn't, I never let you go out in those' 'Really? Oh well I guess I must have worn the suit'. 'Remember the night I had too much to drink and threw up on your shoes?' 'No' 'Oh good, neither do I' And so on as the past becomes rosy and soft and full of champagne.

Meanwhile there is a baby in the spare room. In fact, it's difficult to even think of him as a baby anymore. 10 weeks in and he's practically fully grown. He is a very opinionated child and, just like his father, has absolutely no patience. The gratifying look of joy on his little mush when I start to take out a boob is swiftly replaced by a red mug of rage if I fumble about for a few seconds too long and god help me if I make him hang about in a damp nappy. He's speaking a lot at the moment - in general I think he's saying 'Golly do my vocal chords do THAT? Look what happens when I move my tongue' and then 'Damn, I can't do it twice'. What I hear of course is 'ghuuh, aaa, aaOOOaa, earugh and brrrrrr' but I think I know what he's getting at most of the time. I live in dread of the 'aauwaah aauwaah aauwaah' that is levelled at me on serious repeat and top volume for making him do something he doesn't want to do, like lie down for 10 seconds while I get him a new sleep suit.

My mother once informed me that when I was very young, if she could hear me, she wasn't worried. If she couldn't hear me, it meant I was either dead, passed out, or doing something I didn't want her to know about like feeding my baby brother something poisonous. I make the same assumptions about Charlie. In general, when he's quiet it means he's asleep rather than anything terminal - otherwise he's quite a noisy child. Even when he's lying peacefully looking at his mobile and playing with his hands he is making little gooey noises these days. So, when I lay him on his changing table (from whence it is impossible for him to roll) and turn my back, I normally hear him kicking his feet and making noise. As soon as that stops I have about 4 seconds to turn around and throw a towel at him as invariably he is concentrating very hard on how far he can pee and what clean, dry or perishable items he can pee on before I get there. Every time I think I have moved these things out of pee-shot, he proves he has a bigger bladder and better muscles than last time by increasing his range.

One would hope, therefore, that by night-time when he is peacefully sleeping beside our bed in his moses basket, that quiet would reign and all we could hear would be the gentle sound of his ickle breaths.

Can we, bollocks.

While there are times when the only noise he makes is one of breathing, in general, sleeping with a baby is like sleeping with an old dog, an old man, an alien, or all three. Firstly, he snores. Little baby snores, agreed, but snores. Secondly, he grunts. A lot. Grunts, snuffles, groans, a whole orchestra of strange and wonderful sounds - and finally, he farts. Man, can this baby fart. All babies, apparently, can fart for England and this one is definitely on the first team.

What they don't tell you (Those Who Have Gone Before) is that baby farts are not sweet little puffs of daisy-scented air, but rather startlingly robust reports of adult proportions with the vague hint of nappy about them. In fact, sometimes little C farts so loudly that, if he is sleeping, he wakes himself up and has a little 'wah' afterwards. If awake then he just chunters gaily on with whatever little scheme he's working on at the moment - trying to hit that rattle, trying to stick out his tongue, or, most likely, trying to get out another fart.

It's amazing how much wind one small baby body can actually trap, and how much effort it takes to get it out. He thrashes around with his knees to his chest making his collection of unhuman noises and still it can take fifteen minutes for gas to escape bottom.

The result is something out of a really bad 'B' movie. His moses basket is on a rocker and as he thrashes about, it rocks erratically as if possessed. Lying in bed it is not possible to see baby flesh and, since one is relying only on dodgy parental memory to identify the contents of the basket, anything could be in it - and by the sounds emitting from said basket, anything is. It rocks, it shifts, the beast within grunts and groans, the basket thrashes and shifts and then... just as it reaches a frenzied peak... a fart rings out.

Ah yes, mean old Mum, finding humour in the pain of baby's trapped wind. But you see, Mum has spent a significant amount of time studying baby yoga moves designed to help relieve baby wind and then practised them on said baby - and sometimes Mum can even help the little darling to express some of said wind... imagine her poised solicitously over the changing mat, circling baby's legs and making encouraging noises while little gusts are emitted and baby smiles happily. It's not all thrashing baskets and alien wind monsters - it's just that sometimes, there is nothing one can do but watch.

And sometimes... laugh.