It's only 9 months... but it feels like Maternity...

Now Known As Postnatal Oppression

Saturday, November 10, 2007

OK - this is going to be a very self-indulgent one that I have been promising myself for ages... please do forgive me, and whizz past it to the next one if it doesn't suit your tastes, but I feel I owe it to my peace of mind just to get it out and clear some space. Actually, it's all rather embarrassingly pseudo-philosophic and preachy so just move on now please. Nothing to see here. Normal service is resumed on the next entry.

Well, don't say I didn't warn you.
  • Having Spawn, on the whole, is really great. I wish now that I hadn't waited so long to have him, because it has been such a great experience so far already, but I suppose I wasn't in any sort of place work-wise, or maturity-wise, to have gone through all this any earlier. I wish I'd just been braver about sorting everything out sooner. If you sat and thought about having kids, no-one would do it, which is why it took me so long, being a compulsive list-maker and planner. But no matter how much you plan and organise and control, at some point you just have to take a leap of faith, like Indiana Jones in the Last Crusade, and hope there's a cleverly-disguised ledge waiting for you.
  • It is the most bizarre thing, and I'm going to sound like the worst kind of hippy/shaman/charlatan mystic, but I do feel like I've joined in with, what? The yin in the universe? The feminine spirit? (I may be repeating myself here, but I'm buggered if I'm going to trawl back through my rambling nonsense to check). What I mean, is that I feel I can now empathise with women throughout the complete history of humanity. Not only women, but with female animals too. With female plants? Nah, that's going a bit far. But really, I can only best describe it as feeling like I've properly grown up and plugged into the rhythm of the planet. The experience of creating, giving birth to and rearing offspring is so unique, unremarkable because it is so essential, yet it makes you feel like you can see to the ends of the universe in both directions. A bold claim, I know :)
  • Whenever anyone I know tells me that they are having a kid, I get two feelings. The first one is absolute sheer delight for them. This consists of perhaps instinctive joy at a primitive strengthening of the group (I think that manager of mine who suggested it was onto something), with a sprinkling of "Brilliant - if I'm going down, I'm going to take as many of the bastards with me as possible, and here's another one!" The second feeling is abject terror, that anything less than their well-deserved happiness should befall them. I dare not even think of bad things happening, just in case I somehow jinx them. Even typing this I'm starting to feel uneasy.
  • In my job, I see some really sad situations. The ones that have affected me more than I realised though, are the ones where - hang on, let me give you an example. A couple of years ago, a lovely old gent came to see me. He was registering his wife's death, and as we proceeded, he chatted to me about her and about their life together. They had been married for 60 years, and had a wonderful life together - not hugely exciting, they weren't particularly rich, but they had just been each other's soulmates for all that time. Early on, they had decided that kids weren't for them, and they had never regretted their decision - they travelled all over, and had nice things, and always loved each other. He said to me then, "We just had each other, and now she's gone, I've no-one." He wasn't maudlyn about it, he was just stating the sad truth. When he said he wasn't looking forward to Christmas on his own, it was all I could do not to sweep him up and take him home with me. My point here is, I looked at this dignified, charming gentleman and saw his life as it would be now, and how it would have been if he'd had a reminder of his lovely wife in the shape of a son or daughter, and I thought about the Husband and me, and I took a big step on the road that led to Spawn. And no, I didn't have him so he could look after us when we're old (he'll find out that it's an intrinsic part of the womb-letting contract in his own good time). I look at Spawn and I see the Husband, and he looks at Spawn and sees me.
  • Speaking of which, how sci-fi is that? I grew it, and there it is, sizing me up with my own eyes. It is very surreal to see expressions peering back at you that it's either learned from you or extracted from your DNA. And another strange thing is how all babies seem to do the same things as predicted by books/medical professionals/etc - I know there are the exceptions, but generally they do open their eyes at this point, and they do start smiling and recognising you at that point, and they do start sitting up and rolling around and eating actual food and sleeping longer and so on. When you're waiting for the Next Thing, it does feel like it won't happen, but blow me, they're right again. Don't you think that's weird?
  • It is rather nice to have him not able to take his eyes off us. Depending on who he feels like looking at today, he'll spend ages inspecting the face of the Chosen One with pokey little fingers, watching your every move around the room, smiling delightedly if you look back at him, craning around other, lesser beings to carry on watching you, explaining the complexities of this toy to you and you only, kicking his feet madly and screaming excitedly when you come back into the room. Some days, he's my biggest fan, he likes me even more than my cats do. And that has got to cheer you up.
  • I can't tell you how sad I am that my Mum isn't here to see how he's getting on. The look on her face that first time she came to see me after I'd had him, and I put him in her arms, is something I hope I never forget. I think she honestly never thought she could ever be that happy , and she'd never dared to hope it would happen. Thank God I didn't wait any longer to have him. If Mum had died before he'd been born, or worse still while I was pregnant, I would have never forgiven myself. I have to be thankful that she got to meet him, and was just so thrilled and so proud, and loved him so much. He even smiled one of his first few smiles at her, for which I can only thank him for delighting his Grandma like that. Mum and I would talk about what she'd do with him when she was better (which we'd assumed she would be very soon, and hadn't been told anything different) - take him out for a walk in his pram, babysit for him, teach him to speak Cantonese (she'd already told him that she was his Ap-po), spoil him rotten at Christmas, take him to the zoo.... I am just heartbroken for both of them that they never got to do these things. Spawn adores a big white polar bear toy that she bought for him last Christmas when I was pregnant, and it makes me happy and sad at the same time to see him playing with it, but that Mum never did. Having him though, lessened the blow of losing her - I had to carry on doing normal things for him, he still needing feeding and changing and putting to bed. Mum and I were never close, but I could feel that having Spawn was going to change things - yes, she would still drive me insane, but we had something in common now, and I was looking forward to seeing how that would change our relationship. It wasn't to be though. The Mum-in-law is just wonderful, and dotes on Spawn, but every now and then I feel what I can only describe as a tiny resentment that she gets it all, and my mum missed out on everything apart from those first 8 weeks. Poor Spawn has, in grandparenting terms, kind of the opposite to what I had - I had a paternal grandmother, a maternal grandmother who I never met and no grandfathers at all. He has just 1 grandmother, and then a step-grandfather, another step-grandfather, and an actual grandfather (and technically a step-grandmother), all of whom are very much present and correct.

Oh for God's sake, enough already.


Blogger Cruella said...

Hey Bex, great blogging. I have another friend who's just had her first baby and then a few weeks later, totally out of the blue, her Mum died. Must be horrible, but at least they got to see the baby.

5:58 AM  

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