I have two babies but until recently I was used to seeing them one at a time. An eye blink ago Max was very much a babe-in-arms. And Lola a blossoming toddler. Now that Max is sitting up, the whole world has changed. He has always tracked her every move with adoring eyes, but now he make his own lunge for her whenever it takes his fancy. And he does. He launches himself like a rugby forward, without any thought for the hard floor, wall or strange object in his path. He wants to be close to her, to be walking like her, to be talking like her. I think he might skip crawling, because he only wants to do what she does.
Until recently she hasn’t wanted to have much to do with him. But that is changing, too. Now she says “Coo coo Maxi!” every morning and gives him a little kiss on the head of a tiny hug. She often tells me to pass him off to his dad or his nanny, but a few days ago, when an admiring stranger scooped him up, she said, “No! Maxi with mummy!”. Her first visible protective urge towards him. I know he is going to love her more than all of us. He just does.
Seeing them together made me think of all those great collective nouns… a murder of crows, a pride of lions. They are my adorable of babies.
Seeing them together makes my heart swell more than ever, and lends an even greater sense of surreality to life in general. How did he come to be here, this perfect little fella? No drugs, no agonising. Just here, with minimum fuss and heartburn. He was dangling from his jolly jumper this morning and she was pushing him around in an ill-judged but well-meant kind of way and I imagined how they might be a year from now, tearing around together. Little mates.
I have never felt more ill than the two times I’ve had mastitis. For the past 36 hours I have been a feeble, sweat-drenched ball of misery and my left breast REALLY hurts.Treatment is no fun at all… keep feeding with your huge engorged excruciatingly painful breast! The more, the better! This whole childbirth raising kids malarky is masochistic. So I kept feeding, drank loads of water, took panadol, plonked a hot water bottle on the boob and a cold washer with vinegar on my head and hoped it would get better rather than worse. Def didn’t want to take antibiotics if I could help it, but also did not want to develop a breast abscess. Good god.. an abscess on your breast. They should really mention that the statistical chance of this is extremely low – like 0.2 per cent of women – every time they do those pithy web rundowns on mastitis.
Now the fever has broken and I am thinking that at least it gave me lots of time to gaze at Max, who is filling out nicely. He’s a calm little fellow, but he’s started to give me involuntary little smiles when I stroke his cheek or hand and it gives me a glimpse of a certain cheekiness that he might have.
Max’s arrival has brought a lot of conflicting emotions for me. I am so happy he’s here, and he’s healthy. And I am starting to fall in love with him, but it’s complicated by seeing Lola struggling with sadness over not getting as much of my attention. I feel so guilty. Time and attention are so important for babies… Lola has new words every day at the moment – she’s trying to really talk. And she knows the stories we read her are somehow contained in the words… she points to them. Max eats and sleeps and dirties a mind-boggling number of nappies a day.
A friend advised me to be patient… these first few months with a newborn are intense, but after that I should be able to find a rhythm that allows me to give Lola and Max the attention they need.