They say the first month is your babymoon. I disagree. The first month is a not entirely pleasant blur. The pain of labour and trauma of birth. Hospital. A tiny wrinkled baby that is now suddenly your constant responsibility. The reality that you're likely to be struggling to sit up, that stitches may be all that is holding your nether regions together, especially if it's your first baby.
Home. Now what? Your partners leave is all too brief and then off they trot back to work. Hi Ho Hi Ho and all that. And there you are, all alone, at home with your newborn. Shock. A whole day may pass where you barely leave the bedroom. An endless cycle of feeds and changes and snatched sleep and meals for you. Where pyjamas become the new daywear. Before you know it a month has passed and you're no longer a complete novice. Feeding, changing and burping can all now be done in double time, and exhaustion has become a permanant state of being.
The second month you're settling in. You're even starting to own it a little. Motherhood. You've gotten the hang of unfolding your pram (hopefully) and have established a little route for your daily walk. Your battle scars are healing (hopefully). You are starting to understand your baby and experience occasional blinding glimpses of insight. Your motherly intuition is tuning up, gradually and with infinite precision, like a mighty and precious organ.
By the time the third month rolls around you're in cruise control. At least some of the time. Both you and baby have had your six week checks and with any luck are on the road to recovery. Baby is starting to hold their head up, a fact which marks a massive change in how you handle them. Their little body is filling out like bread rising; spindly legs grow chubby and strong and cheeks become rounded and rosy. Delightful rolls of baby fat appear around their thighs and their neck, and their skin takes on a powder-puff softness that demands a constant rain of kisses. Your baby is officially no longer a newborn but has become an infant.
Three months was a turning point for me. A picture swimming into focus like an old fashioned photo in a tray of developer. It was the first time Felix laughed, a tentative chuckle that seemed almost to startle him. It was also when the babbling started, a gutteral primative bubbling monologue, his tiny tongue moving around the mouth exploring the sounds. Copying my lips. Felix is no longer a tiny baby but a very small and perfectly formed little boy. His face is his own. He has lost the slightly odd squashed look of the newborn. His nose has become a perfect button and his blue eyes have widened, framed with curling blonde lashes. With his pink puffy cheeks and downy new hair he has become overwhelmingly, crushingly cute. I find myself clutching him in a hug that I never want to end. His body brings me sensual delight unlike any other I have experienced.
It is not only Felix who is developing however, mummy is also on her own journey of discovery. Our bond has strengthened and deepened, like an anchor on a thick chain of iron. Even the slightest pull registers. We have become synchronised, and I can read his cries like a menu. Tired, hungry, bored. Whingy. The honest and high pitched screams of pain. I am perfectly attuned to him; like a broken radio I am stuck on a single station and I wouldn't have it any other way. I stand and watch him sleep, his cheek a mellow curve of wonder. Like every other foolish mother who has ever walked the earth I creep into the room and put my ear to his mouth just to make sure he is breathing.
At just over four months Felix is simply the most splendid creature that ever lived. I have become a devoted, doting, lovesick mother. I adore him. I caress him. I protect him. Bizarre morbid thoughts pop up like molehills on a perfect lawn. I imagine scenarios where someone wants to harm him and I plan my grotesque revenge; how I will pull them limb from limb and tug out every strand of hair before setting them alight and watching them burn. I am like a layer of ozone, every molecule of my being aches to protect and care for him. If he is restless I am too. If he doesn't want to feed I become distraught and cannot relax till he is fed and happy. Far from finding them disgusting I await his poos like precious gifts, and I praise him for them. I clean him and comfort him and sing to him. I sterilise and wipe and massage and change and carry. I spend hours staring into his sweet face, smiling and coaxing out laughter. I try and fail to let him cry for long; every sob and gasp tears into my heart like a lion bringing down its prey. His pain has become my pain and cannot disconnect myself. I cannot untune my radio. I have become utterly stuck on a single station called Felix, and I love it. As they used to say on the good old pirate radio 'don't touch that dial'. We're on our babymoon folks, do not disturb.