It’s not exactly true to say The Fear has dissipated. Little things still make us anxious, like whether we’re feeding her the right things, or the right quantities, or whether we’re getting it all horribly wrong; and whether she should be running off like that up the stairs, or in the park, or round the tables in a cafe, or whether we’re getting it all horribly wrong; and whether she’s getting enough stimulation, or enough relaxation, or whether we’re getting it all horribly wrong; etc etc ad actual nauseum. She’s still alive and generally happy so we’re probably not getting it that wrong, but that doesn’t stop us wondering. Nevertheless, it’s more of a generalised anxiety these days and not the constant grip of icy fear that genuinely wrapped itself around my stomach for the first few weeks. Does this anxiety ever go away? Parents of adult children say not. I guess this is just our condition now.
So thank god that Scarlett, at a healthy and happy 11kg, can now transport herself around more of the time now, because my arms were really about to drop off. She can now scamper her way up stairs like a mountain goat, and if we have a bath together I no longer have to haul her out at the same time as myself – I can get out first while she sits safely, and then scoop her up from a much more physically stable and comfortable position. So that’s all a hell of a lot better than it was a few weeks ago. What’s exhausting now, instead, is that we have to run around after her much more. Her high-velocity crawl is rapidly giving away to an incrasingly confident toddle, and it’s only going to get more rapid and more long-distance from here on. Jeez, it never ends, does it?
We’re still using the co-sleeper, and if you’d asked me just prior to Scarlett’s birth how long I expected to be co-sleeping for I’d probably have said roughly six months, but the whole co-sleeping arrangement still suits us all. She’s been sleeping apart from me much more in recent weeks, partly because the weather’s been warm but possibly also because she’s been in big-girl mode and wanting to do much more by herself (boo-hoo); I still like being able to check she’s still alive in the night. Even if she doesn’t wake me, a little bit of my subconscious brain switches on every three hours or so and semi-wakes me to check she’s breathing; it’s probably therefore a good thing that she’s only a foot away when this happens. One day I might get over this and move her to a cot, but it won’t be this week because the nursery is currently full of our new bathroom suite (a long story for another day).
The fascinating stuff
The last couple of months have really seen Scarlett transform from a baby into a little person. Perhaps it’s the standing and walking; perhaps it’s that she’s feeding herself more (and not even that messily, these days); perhaps it’s that her face has got a little longer and contains more teeth; perhaps it’s her growing sense of independence and selfhood. Whatever it is, the chatty, socially-capable near-toddler that lives with us now couldn’t be further from the helpless bundle of newborn we had before Christmas last year. It still seems like she develops a new skill each day: yesterday we found that she’s starting to do the actions that go with songs all by herself; the day before that she learned how to impersonate an elephant; and the day before that she correctly used the sign for “duck” when playing in the bath. Of course, for the proud parents, everything she does is incredible because our daughter is of course the best baby ever to toddle the earth – but beyond that, it’s all still fascinating on a human developmental level. The way we learn to do the things we do is fascinating, and it’s all happening in front of us in real time.
The weird shit
Still plenty of that going on.
The work stuff
Well, work is happening – increasingly much so, for both of us, as I have now formally returned to the office and Darien is getting back to something like full steam ahead with his new freelance role. There are still issues of guilt, and tiredness, and a generalised state of socialpolitical angst, but the practical stuff is working itself out in fits and starts. At least now we’re approaching the one-year mark I’m no longer the only member of our NCT group back in work, and we can all bitch about it together on What’sApp and babysit for one another when crisis calls. (Crisis sometimes calls).
Scarlett, being far more socially able than I am, has settled well into various playgroups and friendship groups, and seems to enjoy hanging out with her NCT peers when Mummy needs to get a bit of work done. (She also seems to like chasing four-year-olds she’s just met around the GP’s office at high speed, but I’m not sure how helpful that is as a pseudo childminding arrangement). For now I think we’ll manage, although “manage” seems to be the operable term rather than “delight in” or “enjoy”. This is 21st century life for many of us. This is just what we do.
The medical stuff
Oh, god, we’re still so hopeless at putting medicine into Scarlett when needed, and we’ve had far more practice than we’d like. Our current top tip is to mix nasty-tasting antibiotics (and they’re all nasty-tasting) into peach and mango puree. It doesn’t altogether disguise the taste, and your baby will view the resulting fluorescent mess with suspicion, but it really works a lot better than that “squirt a syringeful into the cheek” nonsense which only seems to result in bright-pink stains on the carpet for us. It is possible that our baby is unusually wilful. It is possible that we are unusually inept. But trust us on the puree.