Three months have passed now, since the walk and the football game and the pain and the baby. A quarter of a year. And here we are, husband a little greyer, extra lines round my eyes, settling in like the tiredness I wear like a cosy jumper. And the baby. Fatter and happier and louder and angrier and so much more of a person with every passing day. And as she becomes more of a person she begins to own all those aspects of herself, or so I tell myself as she SCREAMS in protest that she's tired or hungry or it's Tuesday, goddammit. But now she laughs too. And one came with the other, and I wouldn't dream of giving up the 'heh heh heh' sound for anything.
I often wonder what I'll remember about these days- the ones that I think of as new infant, not newborn. Newborn was an amazing glowy haze. New infant, well, it's a bit rougher round the edges. Higher highs, lower lows and everything in between. She either sleeps all night (our personal record is 8.5 hours) or wakes every two. Often on consecutive nights. She can smile and charm or be full of rage and anger and there is nothing to be done with either but ride it out. This season is lukewarm tea, the faintly musty smell of fat folds that need constant treatment to stop rashes spiralling out of control. Big juicy smiles that go from ear to ear, the 'heh' sound of amusement as we expend untold energy on The Wheels on the Bus or making the little lion roar. And crying crying crying crying. Big fat tears falling as if her heart might break, soft wet cheeks squashed hard against mine.
I started going to a 'Mommy group', in spite of myself. In some ways, many of them are not my people. They are vegans and concerned about the chemicals in the swimming pool and talk about things that are made of hemp, and I sit guiltily munching a ham sandwich and putting chemicals on my baby's bum then wrapping them in plastic. But there is a spectrum and I am grateful for someone to share the tired look in my eye and to hear them complain that no one warned them that breast milk shoots out like a water gun and watch their babies pee all over them and for someone to say 'I'll watch her whilst you run to the bathroom/get a glass of water/step outside in the fresh air and breathe'. It's ok that we are all doing things differently, because the reality seems to be that no matter what principles and dogmas they may have started with, everyone is just getting by. And honestly, hearing that is the most reassuring thing in the world. Some days 'getting by' feels like a collosal victory.
Other days, we do a whole lot more than get by. We had a visitor from home, and we went to the Sunday Morning Farmers Market in Santa Monica. (Somewhat hilariously, husband over heard a SUPER hipster guy complaining that this was a 'sham farmer's market- it wasn't real at all.' I would be shocked if this guy has ever been near a farm in his life, in his $500 hobnail boots and red fedora in 80 degree heat.) I was worried about a day out with a baby who has taken to screeching loudly and often at weekends, but she adored it and I ate chicken and waffles with one hand and she sat in the shade and watched the little kids ride on the ponies and pet the goats, then switched to gazing at the leaves overhead and we chatted in the dappled sunlight. I could sense the future then: of mornings full of adventures and new foods and funny animals.
And that's where we are, a quarter of a year into owning a baby. Owning this baby. It's hard and it's not: no more and no less. I hate when people say 'it's worth it' because of course it is because the human race would have long since died out if it wasn't, and I never really know what they mean by that exactly. It's joyous, most of the time. And every one needs more joy in their lives. The cost for ours in less sleep, in long days with crying all round, but it seems a pretty reasonable price to pay.