Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Grace - 3 weeks old

So Grace is 3 weeks old... I can't believe she has only been in our lives for 21 days. What on earth did we do before she arrived? Oh yes, I used to have time to wash my hair and could leave the house whenever I wanted. All I needed was my handbag, now I need a changing bag, dummies, spare baby-gros, hats, buggies, rain covers, my wits about me.

Today we went to get weighed (Grace that is, not me. I don't want to know how much I weigh ever again) at the Salvation Army. We powered through pouring rain - Grace loves being out in her buggy. When I say loves, I mean slept, which of course I love.
The Salvation Army is an extraordinary place, the only way to the weigh-in room is beyond the cafe full of homeless tramps, who all watch and snigger in (drunken) amusement as you try and get yourself and the buggy through the too-small door.
You then have to negotiate about another 4 too-small doors, unaided (whilst remembering you have given up swearing these days) before you arrive at some sort of mini hell on earth. Millions of snotty-grotty babies and loud, shouty mothers who scream things like "Liam, stop snatching" or "Dave come here and blow your nose, it's going all over your sister" and "Stop swinging off the curtains" at random.
You have to sit on very hard and uncomfortable chairs and wait your turn to have your baby weighed, whilst other people's horrid children run toy cars up your leg or try and get in your buggy or steal things out your changing bag. I tried to be nice to everyone and make friends... alright, I did nothing of the sort, I clutched Grace to my heaving bosom (oh yes, breast-feeding has it's "perks") and tried not to meet anyones eye or be seen kicking children over. FINALLY my name got called, saving me from a conversation with a girl who had about 7 children and I think might have been due her 8th, or maybe just went MAD over Christmas, who knows, or cares? I just wanted to get Gracie weighed and get us both out of there alive, with my wallet intact if possible.
So, after wrestling with the millions of vests and baby-gros and dungarees and socks and hats I had over-dressed Grace in I finally got her squirmy gorgeous little pink body onto the scales... she weighs 9lb 3oz! She is putting on weight, my breast-feeding is working! I felt euphoric, I wanted to punch the air in delight, but the scary mums may have thought I wanted a fight so I thought better of it, and Grace and I did a discreet (floppy) high five instead. The health-care visitor was amazed I had never handled a newborn before. She said I was very good at dressing Grace - now when all you do all day is breast-feed and change nappies and worry that you are rubbish at being a mum, a compliment like that (in fact, ANY compliment at all) makes you feel fantastic and Grace and I walked home singing in the rain, pleased as punch with our chubby little selves.

I felt so in control I even attempted the post office en-route, silly me. I had to employ the help of a hoodie to get the buggy in, who promptly got in a slanging match with an old person (the hoodie, not my buggy), annoyed the door was being left open and was letting a draft in. The queue was so slow Grace woke up with one thing on her mind, and made loud kissing noises at me, which the old woman queueing for her pension told me meant she was hungry (Which was really helpful of her, I'd never have guessed) and then tutted when I gave her a dummy. She chose that moment to make a very loud noise in her nappy however, which soon made her back off.
I had to post 30 thank-you cards and they sold me the longest stamps in the world ever (I HATE novelty stamps, what is wrong with the normal ones?!). I ran out of saliva after about the 3rd one so they were not sticking to the envelopes properly and had to be licked all over again. I actually had to have a break in between each one. People behind me were tapping their feet in impatience, the buggy was right in the way, Grace had worked out her sucking was all in vain as she was not getting any milk, and started screwing her face up and mewing a bit like a cat, which actually pains me to hear. Anyway, we managed it in the end, I am still drinking water to rehydrate myself and the post office hate me, but I managed.

I stopped at my friend's house on the way home for a re-fuel. As I was feeding Grace (and gazing longingly at my tea) my friend Caitlyn asked me how long she normally stays on the boob for. I told her about 20 minutes to half an hour each time. Caitlyn then told me her daughter Matilda used to be on for ages, well - it seems Grace has inherited her father's competitive streak... As soon as she heard that she suddenly started to suck with a vengeance... for two flipping hours! Yes, TWO HOURS I was stuck there on my friend's sofa, feeling more and more light-headed by the second as Grace slowly drained me of all my energy. I had to have my friend pass AND unzip me a banana at one point. I can't believe it! What if Grace overhears people telling me how big their children's poos are (and believe me, that is exactly the kind of thing I talk about now).

I am trying to get her into a routine, more for my own sake than hers, so it's bath-time at 6pm. The (stupid) parenting book told me that she would not like the bath at all, so I prepared myself for the screwed-up Grace face, but she seems to like her bathtime. She looks slightly unsure at times (normally when clumsy-clot me gets water in her eyes) but on the whole she is unbothered. She has a little baby bath with giraffes up the side of it and a little yellow giraffe towel to match. The hardest bit about bathing her is getting her nappy off and getting her in the water before she wees on you (or maybe something else too!), as James found out last night.

So all in all, things are still going well. I would love a nights uninterrupted sleep, but other than that I am embracing my days not working. I drink lots of tea and moan about housework with my mummy friends, it's a bit like being in a secret club (albeit a very boring one at times).
Anyway, I think Grace must have had her fill as she is still asleep hours later, and I am sure she will stay that way till about 11pm when I start yawning. She will then decide it's time to start her day (which is actually night-time for the rest of us). Babies are very clever, (they don't look it I know, but they are) then can tell when you want to be rid of them for a while. She HATES her moses basket. About 10 seconds after I put her in it she starts to make noises, which get louder and louder until I am forced to go and pick her up. (I say I, it's normally James who does this, but he is back at work now so needs to get some proper sleep).

In the day she only really wakes up for a feed, the milk seems to send her back off to sleep, but in the evening it has the opposite effect, it gives her the energy to stay awake for longer. James and I sleep in shifts, taking it in turns to sit up with her, rattling toys and telling her how pretty she is while she stares up at us looking slightly puzzled. The amazing thing is, even though one part of me is screaming for sleep, there is another part of me who loves the late-night cuddles. I still can't get over the fact that I made Grace, my beautiful healthy baby. When she looks at me I can honestly feel my heart contract with love, and even though breast-feeding can be annoying and time-consuming (and painful), I sort of feel honoured that I am the only person who can feed Grace. Having her need me in such an essential way makes me feel so special, and important, and lucky. I am sure this will all change and soon I will gazing at Tommy Tippee bottles in adoration, but for now my heart - and my boobs still belong to my little girl.

Photos here


Much love

Ericka and Grace

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