Friday, 3 January 2014

Tiny pools of light

I'm still in awe of people who manage to blog regularly with a baby. A newborn. That being said, K doesn't feel so new as she side-eyes me from her swing. She feels old and wise and simultaneously surprised but knowing about my decision to put her down from the spot she has occupied in the crook of my elbow all day. There are days (yesterday) where I feel like I could take on the world. K and I work in perfect rhythm, with perfectly timed portions of sleep and play and eating and I manage to clean things and my husband comes home from work to domestic bliss. There are others, like today, where I sit pinned under the weight of someone who has discovered how incredibly taxing it is to just exist- that things are not always comfortable or pleasant or fair and is simply going to sleep it off, with the occasional wail of unhappiness followed by a fart of such spectacular proportions that it wakes the cat.

There are other days that veer wildly between these extremes. We are starting to emerge from the depths of The First Cold, which perfectly punctuated The First Christmas and The First Full Month. To me, the more important memories are The First 18 Hour No-Sleep Marathon, The First Use of the Snotsnucker and finally, blissfully, The First Six Hour Stretch of Sleep. And none of these types of days have made me want to write. Not necessarily out of tiredness (although I'm sure there is a healthy dose of that somewhere in the background) but because I've not really felt like I've had much to say. Our main obsession is sleep, spoken in a coarse, jagged numeric code- last night was a 5-4-2, the night before a 6-4, the night before that 2-1.5-2. 

Night time has changed for me entirely. I am not good during the night. My left eye usually refuses to open. Literally, I pad between the tiny pools of amber light projected by the nightlights we had to panic buy when she was 3 days old with one eye firmly closed, like I've been sucker-punched. I no longer dream, the strange and vivid imaginings of pregnancy so long behind me I feel like they happened to someone else. Instead I jolt awake, brutally and forcefully as I remember I'm supposed to be looking after my baby rather than peacefully dozing. I guess this is the thing I have noticed most, that sleep is no longer peaceful. Night time is no longer something to be treated as a calm relief to the end of the day, but rather a gauntlet to run. Good night or bad? We have become superstitious in the manner of baseball players and football fans. The tricks that work are fastidiously upheld, those that don't cast aside without a second thought.

K now feels like mine. It took a long time to really believe, especially as I have held and bathed and cared for thousands of babies in my time. This one was no different until she was. I think it happened whilst I watched a David Attenborough documentary on Netflix (the Official Saviour of new parents everywhere) and it was 4am and there was no escaping that she was sick and miserable and just wanted us. It was simultaneously amazing and terrifying. I finally got round to reading 'The Fault in Our Stars' by John Greene last week and the idea that there is no way out of being parenthood now really gripped me. That regardless of what happens, whenever it may happen, I am K's mum, and there's nothing else to it. I can't tell if the terror outweighs the joy in that statement, but some ideas just need to exist, hanging in the back of your mind, waiting until you have the time (or the brain power) to untangle them.

I have become resolutely more British, and even more Scottish since K was born. Words appear from recesses of my mind that I couldn't have brought out if I'd wanted to before. I 'shuggle' the baby to sleep and tell her she's 'awrright'. I listen to BBC Radio, treating the traffic reports with the same reverence as radio plays on 4extra and the inane chat of the Drivetime show. Hearing tales of the A62 and gale warnings for Lochgilphead and crashes outside Basingstoke somehow makes the world more manageable. I knew where I stood in that world, at home where things were safe and we didn't live at the whim of someone who genuinely has no idea what she wants half the time.

This isn't to say that I wish I was at home, per se. After a particularly fractious day where husband was supposed to go back to work and didn't because things were so mental ,we went for a long walk, the top of K's head bobbing gently in her carrier. We talked about being home sick. And we realised that in reality nothing would have been any different if we were in Edinburgh except we'd be colder. Much colder, if we'd stayed in our beautiful yet drafty Victorian flat. 4am would still be 4am, Snotty noses would still be snotty noses and we wouldn't have any more idea what we were doing. And having that conversation by the orange glow of a beautiful sunset helped.

There have been many, many hilarious moments, lest this all sound melancholy, somehow. The cat is at the centre of most them, whether it is violently killing Winnie the Pooh, leaving a trail of dead soft toys in her wake near daily, or the day I found her traipsing around with the Snot-Sucker in her mouth, or jumping up to drink the water we use to clean up during nappy changes. K makes some of the most hilarious faces I've ever seen, and I'm genuinely sad they are rarely caught on camera. I hold the record for the most nappies used during one change- mortifiying for someone with my experience. She loves to be in the bath, and that is where I got to see her first real smile. 

This year is completely unknown for us. Husband has job interviews in a few different places and we don't have any idea where we will be come July. It's scary but exciting too. We decided we're still in for the adventure. We'll just bring K along with us. Famous last words, but how much harder can it be?