Wednesday, 24 October 2012

There's that piece which stays behind.

Just left my son with a stranger.  Feel like I'm going to make my own Rorschachs on the floor.

Sure he's met her a few times.  Sure it's only to give him lunch, max an hour.  For now.  Sure I will collapse in a heap of relief when I go to pick him up and he's smiling and giggling and burping and shouting just like he does at home.  There may even come a day when he cries when leaving her house.  I will surely burn that day like I'm locked in an oven.  I will surely cheer his independence.  I will surely adore his spirit.  Even more than I do today.


Talking with my NCT pals the other day we were saying how it's a dead certainty that we will have to let the babies go, over and over again all through life.  To childminders, to school, to the grocery store, to teen discos, to gap years.  Now having a child of my own, now about to regularly leave him to get to the business of growing up and mixing more often with other kids than with mommy et al, getting to the business of that next phase of life that doesn't involve me changing the bulk of the nappies, feeding all the vegetable sludge, teaching him to hold the cloth, the spoon, the cup, the bell, the crinklebug.  Well, now I understand what my parents must have felt when I left home.  Left the country.  Got married.  Flying flying and flying away.  All the time flying.  But there's that piece which stays behind.  That piece that is woven into their very souls. 

That one stays behind.


Will I one day pick him up and there he will have learned to sit up by himself at last?  I cannot pretend I will not turn a shade of deepest green for a flash before the pure joy sets in.  But I desperately wanted that one.  I wanted it before I went back to work.  I go back to work tomorrow.

Yes, thank you Sir Mick, yes, I realize you get what you need.  But still.

I haven't loads more to say right now.  That is enough.  That is everything today.  It is such a small thing but it is such a huge day.


Saturday, 20 October 2012

Dinner wars.

After not being able to keep any food down yesterday, Rukai has just won the Oscar for most picky baby on the face of the earth.  Today's dinner menu:

2 oz of fresh carrot juice = yum yum go mama, more please
2 spoons of packet chicken dinner = tantrum, I don't want savory thankyouverymuch
3 spoons of carrot/swede mashed up = tantrum, I don't want solid veg thankyouverymuch
1/2 spoon of carrot/swede mashed up, disguised with fruit puree = straight back out and are you fricking KIDDING me?
The rest of the fruit puree = Ha ha mama, I win.
1/2 an organic snack hoop.  Most in his mouth this time.  Ha ha baby, I win this round.
1 teaspoon of Philadelphia cream cheese.  Straight.  A huge hit.  If you won't take your milk, I'll get your dairy in you somehow.  Score two for me.
2 sips of heavily diluted apple/blackcurrant juice.

It's all staying in. What's coming out is one helluva stubborn streak.


Friday, 19 October 2012

You can't cure baby sick with bacon.

It all started when Bubba got blasted by a big bad blockup.  Top end.  Stuffiest of all stuffy noses, the poor boy was snuffling and squidging around so long a couple nights ago we went up to right things and found ourselves with a very warm headed unhappy little man.  We, the old folks downstairs, charging up to fix our baby.  Our boy's not well.  We behaved like parents in an urgent situation and that, to me, was a very strange experience.

Of course we've been behaving like parents for eight months now but it's a bit like getting that first car / credit card / apartment / house / bottle of Jack Daniels.  You think to yourself 'hey I'm an adult now, this is not kid stuff.'  But when the stuff that is not kid stuff IS kid stuff, well, that is when you have truly arrived, baby.

So bubbo snuffaluffagus was unwell and we did our best to fix him.  We seem to have done a pretty miserable job of it, which I discovered today, as two minutes post-breakfast, half the contents of said breakfast were soaking into the carpeting like a Rorschach blot and snuffly boy was screaming blue Jesus.

The mommy antenna went up full height and I admit the urge to clean up the puddle first was a bit strong.  But no, baby first.  He's not only unwell, he's a bit freaked out at that new sensation and I have to find a way to fix it.  How's about a wiped face, a kiss on the too-hot-for-my-liking forehead, fresh nappy and a new top.  Check.  Now let's get him resting a bit on the sofa.  Carefully drape a blanket under him in case the rest of breakfast comes to the party.  Cover him up with another blanket.  Finally open up that Calpol that's been staring me down for eight months and spoon a bit in him.  Good, good.  I'm mommy-ing.  I'm fixing the ick.

He conks out.  I feel triumphant.  Until he wakes up after a brief nap and I go to cuddle him by putting him on my shoulder.  A gurking sound pierces my eardrum like a chisel and as I whizz him around, there we now officially have an empty stomach and more Rorschach on the other side of the floor.  I'm not sure if it looked like an octopus, a racecar or three blooming coins in a fountain but it plain as day looked like a fresh puddle of puke I was going to need to mop up.  He goes back to the sofa and I refill that bowl of water.

Scrub scrub.  I'm mommying again.  He is quietly watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and sucking on a muslin cloth.  I am wondering how in the hell I'll get some fluids in him if it keeps coming back up.  How do I comfort him if he's not comfy cuddling in the newborn hold and the shoulder plank empties his guts?

I check him again and he's slowly becoming not so grey faced, forehead a bit cooler.  Thank you Calpol.  Having consulted Doctor Google again I see he could very well be quite perky even though he's got an obvious tummy bug and it's only if he's seriously out of sorts that it's time to panic.  And lo and behold he's seeming to bore and crabbing to get on the floor again.  Five minutes after I dump the bowl in the sink, I look down and he's rolled to that same tummy that just returned breakfast and I'm thinking first: 'dear lord, please don't puke on your playmat', and second: 'you sure do bounce back quick.  Tough as old boots'.  He's clearly on the fritz and there he is going roly poly.  Pride.

Yet they say WOMEN are confusing.

He is now full of a half bottle of milk and a couple crumbs of rice cake and napping again, the sleepiness the only indication at the moment that he's off piste.  I think he's ok for now but I may just fill that bowl again to be on the safe side.

The real shame of it all?  Unlike a hangover, you can't cure baby sick with bacon.


In other news, this is officially the last day of my maternity leave.  Nine months gone and it's time to enter a new phase of life and get back to work - only part time til year's end, thank god.  I would sink like a boulder if I dived straight in.  Baby steps.  The adult kind.

Our childminder has been selected.  We are getting close to the first full day with her and I'm growing new greys by the minute just thinking about it.  I am feeling melancholy but more than relieved that compressed working hours are on the horizon and Rukai and I will have one weekday together to keep his development on track.  We are on such a roll and seeing that slow - worse, cease - would break me like Uncle Pecos' old guitar string.  Crambone.

To be at this point after an eight months which started in the wilderness, smothered with such worry and concern, now feels a bit like a quiet miracle.

Rukai is coming on still with no issues, firmly at the tail end of normal where milestones are concerned.  Surrounded by about a dozen other kids the other day at baby singsong I saw that he isn't doing anything any differently than they are.  He may be a bit on the late end but by god he's doing it.

He's now rolling over regularly and with ease both ways.  He's grabbing and trying to shake the very color off his toys.  He babbled an accidental mama yesterday which set me alight and raised a flock of butterflies in my own belly.  He is so strong and rambunctious, so tenacious and stubborn.  So much a perfect combination of me and his Daddy it is just untrue.

So today I have stuffed my worry in a cab to Heathrow, checked it in on a flight to Don'tLetTheDoorHitYa and sent it packing.  It may find its way back but in the meantime we three are going somewhere much sunnier.  I'll send a postcard.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Baby planking.

Well, I've done it.  I've gone and booked a meeting with a childminder because oh-my-god-i-cannot-believe-it, nine months have come and gone and I have to go back to work in a few weeks.  The days of living in my jammies and rolling around on the floor with Rukai are going, and I will need to make conversation about other things than bodily functions, milestones and sleep patterns.  I will need to park my silly faces until I get home.  I will have to use Outlook again.  Go to meetings.  Dig out my work notebook and try desperately to read through what I was working on, if I can see past the many doodles I made in the later days of pregnancy when my mind was adrift in anticipation and worry.  I think my new doodles will consist of little more than to-do lists.  I cannot live these days without lists.  I truly cannot remember anything aside from squidge requirements.  That is all.

Oh dear.  I think re-entry is going to sting.

But back to the childminder selection.  I can honestly say this is a bigger decision than the one I took to move to England in the first place, largely because adult me can handle bad decision making (not that the move was a bad idea, but HAD it been...) 7-1/2 month old Rukai cannot.  Like everything else we have done with and for him, we have to get this right.  I think this is where that maternal instinct and the old 'gut feeling' will kick into overdrive.  It's been a remarkable discovery, since before I had a child the only gut instinct I had regularly was the massive belly ache after an overly spicy curry or football sized burrito.  This maternal thing is just a bit supernatural.  Now that I think about it, if I ever grow those magical eyes in the back of my head I'll have to sell myself to MI6 or the CIA and save the world while I'm keeping Rukai from bashing his head on table corners and such.

I wonder when the time will come that this decision-making-about-the-bubba will stop feeling like brain surgery?  Stop feeling like 'if I don't get this right, they will take away my mommy credentials and send me off to summer camp to climb trees and learn underwater basketweaving.'  I suspect it's easier when you have more than one kid - instead of worrying so much about what you are doing with kid number 1, you have sudden expertise with kid number 2 because you've done it already.  The stuff that is so worrying right now would go in the background for kid number 1 because the littler the person is, the more fragile.  The more fragile, the more attention you have to give and the more attention you have to give...the more wine.

Yes, that is also an essential part of the big picture.  Like many other things I did not really understand before I became a mother, I 'get it' now.  And although wine is a four letter word, it is a socially acceptable four letter word that prevents overfrayed nerves and utterance of other less acceptable and dangerously repeatable four letter words.  So essentially, a nice glass of wine will keep Rukai's first word from being 'shit'.  That's not to say he doesn't find it at around word number ten or eleven but if we don't dare to dream, where will we be?

In other news, our little man is coming along like gangbusters since we started him on solids.  The floppiness is fading, and he is now - for lack of a better description - 'baby planking' when I pick him up and raise him over my head.  That little neck is strengthening day by day and to our delight he is well and truly doing everything he should be doing, only just the littlest bit later than his NCT pals.  To have this group of friends has been a godsend to both of us - to him for familiarity and to me for great friendship and to be able to gauge where his development is against ordinary children.

When describing his latest acquired skills on a recent visit with the health visitor, I detected the slightest hint of surprise as if to say 'I can't believe he's doing that already.  He shouldn't be able to.  Most babies with Down's syndrome can't do that at this age.'

Yes, yes, yes.  But we have determined already that he is not MOST, my good woman.  And I truly think she knows that.  This is why it is only a hint of surprise followed by a slight grin and more note writing.  Ok, good good.  She gets me.  More progress.

As each day goes by I see more of a grit, a determination, a stubborn streak, a warrior.  Although sometimes I fret, these days I am not afraid of my son's ability to soar.

The only thing I fear is getting back on that cursed Central Line again.  So I guess at the end of return-to-work-day-1 it will be for bubba: bath, bottle, bed.  For mommy: cuddles, watch him dream.  Then dinner.  Then wine.  Yes.