New mother ramblings

It's been so long since I had a small baby - 11 years - that I have forgotten what it was like. Or maybe it is simply different with each child. There are some lines in a poem by Fiona Benson that keep coming to me -

'It was always like this;

a long line of women
sitting and kneeling,
out of their skins
with love and exhaustion.'


[break off to tend to baby who has woken up with a cross cry]

I am out of my skin with a gentle, deep tiredness. It's as if I am living in a slightly different medium, more viscous than air and tinted with extra light and shade.
The days are simple; days of feeding and wiping and holding, singing. I only realise how much I talk to our baby when I am not alone with him and become self-conscious. I read his face every hour, watch it changing. Already the furrow between his brows has gone, and his eyelashes are growing. I can, and do, gaze at him for hours. Not particularly thinking anything ... just looking.
I'm sure there is an evolutionary imperative for this intense focus.. one of the delights of being a new mother is being swept up in the sheer biology of it all, from the flowing patient breasts to the particular, distinctive scent of each child, which is beyond description. The particular cry, too which I could pick out from dozens of other baby cries as my own baby's. The changing parameters of what is important.

I am well away from the wider world, and at the heart of this safe, small place. For now, anyway.

[break off to tend to baby who is looking at me like an imp ... I cannot ignore his gaze]


[baby has cried for most of the morning, I think. My watch has broken. I have given him a dummy which I didn't want to do before he was born.]

[I have written one sentence and he crying again]


Back again ...

Something I have been doing a lot is walking with the baby and the dog, an hour or so each day. I have walked the same route, through September and October, and watched this local world change as Autumn deepens.
The quality of light has altered - it has lost its golden slant and the dampness has thickened. The rosehips' hue dulling from brilliant, shiny red, the leaf fall, drifts of it, the russet creeper leaves dropping like hands, the gulls on the street lamps, the adolescent magpies with new adult plumage.

As the days shift, the world shifts, in tiny increments and over the weeks and months, quite profoundly. There is an aggregation into drifts of weeks, but also something unique to each day, whether it is the cloud cover, leaf fall, or stillness of the air.

I watch the leaf colour change at the base of a scraggy oak, and leach upward, as my baby's bones lengthen and soon he becomes too long for his suit.
Semi-delirious, my perceptions take on a gritty intensity. We do not need to speak. The traffic drone is incessant, benign. On sunny days, there is an ornate dragon fly that comes to our garden.
So much washing; tiny suits drying.

And to write of this is a release, and an honouring, for I know how fleeting these days are, how particular and specific, and how I will look back on them with clarity, and a sense of loss, as each leaf breaks itself down to nothing.


His tiny nostrils are like this  '   '
What do they say in that darkness, that space where he draws up air to his lungs?

Already, it is November
Already, I have felt impatience as he cries
Already, he is learning to miss the warm teat in his mouth
Already he knows of absence

He looks into corners; what does he see? The fall of light
Already, he turns to our voices; smiles
I learn the patterns of his breath
I place my ear to his chest and hear his wild heart going
A stranger tells me how lucky I am
Yes, I say, yes


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