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Motherhood and Apple-Pie 3 July, 2008

Posted by monopod in Baby.
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I can’t quite believe that the little one is now six weeks old, or how much he’s grown in such a short space of time. On Monday the health visitor came for his 6-week checkup, and I was absolutely delighted to discover that he was now 10lb 4oz, up from a birth weight of 7lb 13oz, and a whole 5cm longer too. I am clearly feeding him good stuff. Viva la milk.

The conundrum is that I do and I don’t want him to grow up. There is so much to look forward to, but these early days are passing far too quickly. He’s already outgrown all his newborn-sized clothes and nappies, and showing no signs of slowing down. He’s also started smiling at Him and me, and this time we don’t have to put it down – sensibly, if disappointingly – to wind.

Him and I have, of course, done the doting parent thing and come up with all sorts of cheesy nicknames for him. To date he is my sleepy slug, my oxytocin baby, my radiator baby, my piglet, and (grandpa-coined, this one) my toughie. Ah, what the heck, I’ll just be cheesy, because I love him completely and utterly to bits.

If nothing quite prepares you for the overwhelming love, nothing also quite prepares you for how helpless or inadequate you can feel when you inevitably realise you can’t be the perfect mother. Tuesday was the first day ever that I was alone with him for most of the day, and let me tell you, it is bone-crushingly heart-breaking when your baby is screaming until he’s purple in the face and you cannot figure out WHAT IS WRONG WITH HIM, because he’s been fed and burped and changed and you’ve started the naptime routine within his sleep window and as far as you can tell he’s not in pain. Of course it always turns out that while you weren’t looking he decided he wasn’t quite finished with his meal, so I don’t know why I haven’t cottoned on yet. Muppet.

Another thing that I haven’t yet accepted is that some things are in fact out of your control. A couple of weeks ago he started developing some patches of dry skin on his forehead, which then started to crust over, and then all of a sudden it had spread all around and between his eyebrows (which reminds me, I missed out Klingon Toughie in the nickname list*). We thought it was cradle cap and were treating it accordingly until it was suggested that in fact it might be impetigo, at which point I naturally reacted by thinking MY BABY HAS IMPETIGO ARRGGGHHH WHAT KIND OF A MOTHER AM I IS IT GOING TO LEAVE SCARS. Of course, it wasn’t impetigo; it was indeed cradle cap, which as far as I can tell I couldn’t have stopped him developing. But the point is that it still looks awful, and because I have obsessively and futilely pursued nice skin for myself for as long as I can remember, I naturally have hang-ups about beautiful baby skin. Such is a mother’s neurosis.

I’m not quite sure how stay-at-home mums manage to keep several children respectable and still do the cooking and housework, not to mention stay sane. I suppose Supermum status comes with time and I shouldn’t be expecting it at six weeks, but for now I will simply be trying to keep one little baby full, clean and well-rested. I stress the ‘one’, at least for now, which is why when my GP asked me the standard ‘what are you doing for contraception’ question at my postnatal checkup on Monday, I told him “NOT HAVING SEX.”

*I also missed out Wriggly Worm and Hairy Houdini.

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