S is seven months old tomorrow. Things have changed a lot since Easter Sunday, when I woke up at 5am thinking I’d wet myself!
Seven months has gone so quickly, and I feel like I missed the first couple of months because I was so busy panicking, so busy struggling to just keep my head above water that I didn’t enjoy having a beautiful, tiny little baby.
|S at 2 weeks (notice massive babygro)
When she first came home from the hospital, S was so small even the “tiny baby” clothes swamped her. While we were in hospital she wasn’t even dressed a lot of the time; she was either wrapped in a blanket, or snuggled under my t shirt. When we came home a friend posted us a bag of baby clothes her daughter had grown out of; they were lovely but massive, I couldn’t imagine S ever growing into them and assumed my friend’s daughter must be a lot older than S. She was three months old before any of the 0-3 months clothes fit her, but by the time she was 4 months old, she was starting to grow out of them! Now she’s growing so quickly I never know which size clothes to buy!
Until I had S, the fact a baby is born completely unaware of the things we all take for granted had never occurred to me. It’s been so lovely to watch her learn she has hands and feet, and that she can use her feet to kick things, her hands to grab. She has gone from a tiny, silent little bundle whose only noise was the occasional cry if she got hungry, to a burbling, grabbing, punching little monkey who has the best grin I have ever seen. She wakes me up by chattering to herself in the mornings and I go to sleep listening to her soft snoring next to me. The last couple of days, she’s been trying to stand as much as she can, which is worrying!
I’ve not had a full, uninterrupted night’s sleep since the middle of my pregnancy – and I don’t care! Don’t get me wrong; I love my sleep, and am exhausted in a way you would not believe, but over time I think I’ve just gotten used to it. Someone said to me early on that I should cherish those night feeds because they will stop all too soon. That person was so right. There is no feeling quite like being woken by S poking me in the ribs because she is hungry. On the nights where she sleeps a little longer between feeds I often wake up before her, wondering what’s going on and why she’s not hungry. I know that eventually she will stop feeding at night, and stop sleeping next to me too. That will be a sad day.
According to a Cow & Gate magazine that came through my door the other day, in their first six months a baby’s weight will double. The last time S was weighed, her weight had more than trebled since she was born. She’s currently on the 50th centile line, which makes me stupidly proud, even though it’s just some stupid statistic. When she first reached her due date (she was 5 weeks early) her weight put her on the second centile line.
Yesterday when D (my Home Start lady) was here we were talking about the neighbours and she asked if I knew the people downstairs. I replied no, they’d moved in when S was still very small, and I was not particularly sociable at that time so didn’t really speak to them. D commented that often when we’re talking and I mention things like this, it’s as if I’m talking about someone else. She told me she finds it hard to reconcile this image of a depressed person sitting alone in the house and not speaking to anyone, with the confident single mother she sees every week. I was a bit gobsmacked to be honest. I spend a lot of my time with barely a clue as to what I’m doing, and hoping I’m not making huge mistakes on a daily basis. The fact I come across as confident was a completely alien concept to me; I’ve never thought of myself as a confident person. But then, after she left, I thought about it a little more. Although I don’t have all the answers, and I do make a lot of mistakes, I am confident when it comes to being S’s mother. I know when she is tired, when she is hungry, when she is bored. I have very definite ideas about how I want to raise her, what values I want her to grow up with, what I do and do not want to do. So yes, perhaps I am confident.
I was watching a phone-in show on TV earlier this week, where they were talking about cutting Child Benefit for families with more than two children. They commented that it tends to either be the very rich or the very poor that have a lot of children and a journalist on the panel made a very interesting point. She said that quite often young women coming from an underprivileged background have always felt worthless, as if they don’t have a place in society, and when they have a baby they finally have a purpose; they have produced a child and they feel worthwhile. Although I wouldn’t say I’d really grown up in a terribly poor family, I have always had a bit of an issue when it comes to self esteem and feeling like I was worth a great deal or good at anything. Now that I have S, and am over the initial total and utter shock of becoming a mother, I find that I completely understand what that journalist meant: for the first time in my life, I have a purpose and my life has a meaning beyond “if I don’t go to work today the other people in my team might get a bit swamped.” And yes, when I stop and think about it, I do think I’m quite good at being a mother. As much as you can be, when your child is only 7 months old, that is. When I was pregnant I would worry about how I could possibly fill the days of my maternity leave once the baby came. Now she is here, and I often look up at 5pm and wonder where the hours have gone.
The photo on the right shows one of S’s first babygros (she is wearing it in the photo above: see how big it is on her!), against the one she wore to bed this evening. I remember being given that small one and thinking, gosh it’s so big it’ll be ages before she grows into it. She was completely lost in it. Now I look at it and wonder how she ever fit into it!
My tiny little premature baby in her teeny-tiny too-big babygros has become a big bruiser of a bouncing baby, laughing, burbling and grabbing at everything in sight. I know that all too soon I will look up and she will have become a toddler, a schoolgirl, a grumpy teenager, an adult. Seven months has passed in a flash and I am so glad I’ve taken a million and one photos to look back on and remind me of every single moment.
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