Thursday, 28 June 2012

Independence Day

I woke up yesterday morning with a strange feeling. The feeling of being well-rested. After weeks of flirting with the idea of putting Bug to bed in his own room -- and actually keeping him there till morning rather than bring him in with us, we finally did it. And it was glorious. Alex was reluctant (so was I -- we like being with that kid a lot!), but after three days of 4:45a.m. wake-ups followed by what felt like hours listening to poor Jack trying to get comfy again in his cramped bedside basket, it was time. Our kid likes to roll. And snort. And whimper a little bit. All noises which are impossible (for me, anyway) to sleep directly beside, but through the monitor, are so muffled you can't tell if it's actually a baby needing stuff or you accidentally dialed an obscene caller on your cellphone from your pocket. Not that I have a habit of doing that, of course... that would be  rude on several levels. Ah, a room of our own. A direct path to my side of the bed for the first time in almost six months.

So rested and delighted in our new-found independence was I that I've even started the kid on his next foray into independence: eating food. Baby Rice (that's pablum in Canadian) didn't cut it, but this morning's addition of pear puree has the little guy well on his way to becoming a bigger one. Hooray for growing up!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012


Prior to Jack's arrival -- thanks to a hard-won knowledge of my mental wiring and the wonderful fact that both medical professionals and the media acknowledge the phenomenon -- one of the things I worried about most was Post-Partum depression. I took measures to avoid it -- eating well, getting rest and exercise, talking to my doctor, maintaining my network and planning ways to create a new Mummy-town world that would not just keep me from going nuts, but be fun as well. I don't know how much of the victory was my preparation and how much was lucky chemistry, but it worked. So I guess I was a little blindsided when last week, despite the NCT meet-ups and transatlantic calls, despite the healthy habits, wonderful partner and huge love for my kid, I experienced the crash.

I'd heard that cutting back on breastfeeding can cause a sudden depletion of Oxytocin (that's the love and bonding hormone, not the street drug Oxycontin,  or "Hillbilly Heroin" as it's sometimes called), but it hit way harder than I'd imagined. Provided I was within cuddling distance of Jack, I was fine. But wander out of the room or zone out for a moment and it was like someone was wringing my heart dry. I still had plenty of love and enthusiasm for hanging out with him, but when he went to bed I felt I had nothing left. Suddenly, all the things I'd accepted "for now" -- including the fact that Jack is, at least temporarily, growing up without the people who have known me forever and by extension love him almost as much as we do (and more selfishly, that they aren't able to be there for me) were unacceptable. I saw an NCT friend in the store with her mom and nearly burst into tears. The next day, when Jack was crying in the supermarket and a strange woman stopped, looked at me and told me it was going to be okay, she had kids herself and assured me I was doing a great job, I did burst into tears (discretely, of course. I'm in England now).

Despite the fact that Alex has always been an enthusiastic caregiver and bends over backward to make us happy, I suddenly felt I was in it all alone and I wasn't sure I wanted to be there. My son was just over five months old and I wanted a break. I wanted my people. I saw toddlers and ached with guilt, feeling a cold seep of dread rather than any desire to cuddle the little folks. I was honestly scared that maybe I just wasn't cut out for this mommy business forever, but forever it was going to be.

But then I'd look at Jack. And I'd remember the hormone thing. And I knew that despite the feeling there was a family of nefarious elephants lounging on my heart, we'd both be just fine. That I wanted to be his mommy forever and then some. A big, teary fight with Alex that, thanks to largely to his patience and my fondness for talking (and talking and talking) turned into a wonderful honest conversation about all of the above and then some sealed the deal that I was for sure really going to be ok.

And then, just when I needed it most, one of my people showed up on my doorstep from Canada (I was expecting of her of course, but it was good timing nonetheless). She cooked dinner and cleaned my counter tops (even behind the jars!). She took me out dancing and we spent a long sunny day in Greenwich, leaving Jack to hang out with his Dad. And I realized, not many of have the community of women in the same house or neighbourhood like we did in the olden days. But some of us are lucky enough to have them scattered around the globe and willing to come to you when you need them most. To check out your life and remind you it's real, it's beautiful and they're still in it.

Is it hard as hell living so far away sometimes? Yes. But having a loving partner, a beautiful boy and women who love me and get just as giddy about Jack as I do somewhere out there makes it a lot easier to accept and appreciate things as they are right now -- and ride out the things I know will pass.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Just Like Mom

Eight weeks into our cycle of holding NCT gatherings at each other's houses, it's my turn to host. And so, owing to a few factors (trying my friend Becky's delicious cheese scones on Jubilee Day, wanting to check and see if baking was any more fun as a stay-at-home mom, a nod to frugality and... well... mainly the desire to keep up with the other NCT ladies - most of whom baked something) I have just finished baking some scones. They look and smell delicious. But seriously? Not delicious enough to have spent my entire morning to accomplish nothing more than some baked goods and a spreding a fine layer of buttery cement over every inch of my kitchen. I concede it probably would have gone more smoothly had I had things such as measuring cups and spoons; the right flour; cookie cutters; and a rolling pin... rather than a scale, the internet and a pad of paper; the Internet and pad of paper and a scale; a tape measure, a baby bottle and some shot glasses; and a sports water bottle coated in flour... But I doubt it would have been much more fun. Actually, it may have been less fun.
Professional bakers of the world, I thank you. Thank you for allowing me to eat your delicious wares without ever having to do math, scrabble around my cupboard for the right tools, destroy my kitchen or need to know just how much butter I am actually eating.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Things that go Bump in the night

This morning, like most mornings, I was woken up by Jack's cry. But unlike most mornings, this wasn't a little waking up mewl... it was a full-on howl. And sounded like it was coming from the vicinity of under the bed. I groggily rolled over and saw his empty basket, then quickly realized why it sounded like that. Because it was like that. "Alex, we have a bit of a problem", I said. Then in a much calmer state than I probably should have been, I fished him off the floor, cuddled his terrified little bod and stroked his little face, which bore the deep imprint of carpet, bits of stuff I missed while vacuuming yesterday and one very puffy eye. It was terrifying in a way... but weirdly soothing, because despite the shock, I knew he was ok. I did end up taking him to the doc's by the end of day just to be sure, but there is something immensely comforting in the deep-down knowledge  that I understand and know this awesome little baby enough to be able to gauge whether he's alright or not without any panic bells setting off to cloud my judgement. He got the all-clear from my rather awesome doctor who assured me that at this age, they really just bounce. And the only thing I needed to give him was an extra round of cuddles... and maybe some pillows around his bed to keep my little escape artist safe, should he try it again.