This and That

So, the big news is my ickle bitty baby is officially seven. SEVEN! SEEEEVVVEEEENNN!

So, yeah, I'm sort of freaking out. She was so teensy and fragile. She's still a bit delicate, but she's kind of big now. Like seven-year-old big. And she does all this seven-year-old stuff like calls her friends, takes pictures on her own camera (thanks Granny and Granddad!), does homework, reads paving slab books, discusses menu plans, asks what "rape" means when she sees it in a newspaper headline, hides from others when changing, paints her nails and lots of other things that freak me out on a regular basis.

You see, when she was born, the night she was born, I did a lot of freaking out. I panicked. Having battled my biological clock since I was TWO, I finally had a baby to look after, and I had no idea what to do. This is hard for me to admit, but I didn't feed her for the first day. Twenty-four hours. No food. I also took her home in a car on a pillow. Not a carseat but A PILLOW. My precious, most-wanted-ever gorgeous perfect little baby. In a car on the South Circular in my arms on a pillow. My hungry little delicate baby.

While I did get her home in one piece, and I did figure out a way to get food into her body (apparently mouths are key), I spent about four weeks standing like a deer in the headlights. This whole life was my responsibility. Andrew was sweet and supportive, but I knew the truth. If anything happened to her it would be my fault. I failed the beautiful birth experience I promised her, I failed (for a while anyway) to breastfeed her, I failed to protect her from the hideousness of an NHS birth.

It wasn't all failure though. On that terrible first night I managed not to let her die, put some clothes on her and cut her fingernails. I talked to her while I bled through every sheet and bit of fabric that came (begrudgingly) my way. A thousand times that night I told her, "You're safe, Baby. You're safe." She cried, and I stared at the headlights.

Midwives came in and yelled at me for bleeding so much. Another came in to yell at me for not feeding my baby properly. She kept poking my breast further into Katie's teensy little mouth, and it just didn't seem like it was ever going to work. Other mothers in the ward cried, screamed. Maybe it was the babies crying? Maybe it was all in my own head? The enduring image I have from the point labour started to go wrong until the goddess Jill Dye (lactation consultant) taught us to nurse lying down is of me in a hospital gown, standing in a highway in the rain with my baby on a pillow and bright headlights blaring down on us.

Still, it got better. We bonded. Together Katie and I figured out breastfeeding. I let Andrew hold her a bit more (he took her downstairs and put her in a box, so you can see how wise that was). I started to sleep a bit. I started to heal. Eventually she started gaining weight, getting back up to her birth weight after a week or two. My midwife warned me not to let the Health Visitors come by, because they'd have me up for post partum depression for sure. My mom gently tried to broach the subject. While I still don't think I had PPD, I do think I had some sort of trauma recovery, and possibly not just from the birth. Possibly just from the fact of being in charge of another person's life. Completely. Everything I'd ever wanted, really.

Now Katie is seven. And she's amazing! She's so beautiful and clever. My god, she is so clever. she can tell you what the square root of 81 times the square root of 36 is in no time flat. She turns a fantastic cartwheel, and she's a fiercely loyal friend. She can draw really cute people, and she can read absolutely any book (or newspaper headline!) you put in front of her. She is amazing.

This morning I asked Buffy idly if she had a best friend at school. She thought about it for a minute and said, "Not really. Only my sister is my best friend." Buffy's a clever girl, too. She knows a good thing when she sees it.