Today is the last day that Whoopsy and I have to endure before his daddy returns from a week long trip to the States. My respect for single parents has gone through the roof over the last seven days. Just imagine: no one to throw the baby at when it’s crying endlessly and you can no longer think straight, no one to do the early morning feed when you feel like throwing the bottle across the room and going on strike, no one to take baby on a walk to the shops when you’d quite like an uninterrupted bath. And not just for a week. Forever. Being one parent is hard enough. Being two parents is near impossible. It really makes me grateful that T and I powered through the difficult days, through which I was adamant that I could do this alone. I probably could do it alone because humans are powerful and resilient and capable of achieving incredible things. But I wouldn’t want to because I am lazy and have a short attention span and like lie ins.
I started writing about how I’d fallen in love with Whoopsy but my blog was rudely interrupted by my need to rant about something or rather. So, taking a step back, I have fallen madly in love with him. It’s probably not a massive surprise since parents are apparently intrinsically wired to love their children. However it’s fair to say that since he invited himself along to our private party his arrival was tolerated rather than embraced. We seem to have also missed another opportunity to fall in love with one another. The drama surrounding his birth meant that, when I should have been having a rush of overwhelming hormones, I instead was watching two Doctors stitch me up as I haemorrhaged and listening to them debate whether I would need a blood transfusion or not. Likewise, in those first couple of weeks at home, as I should have been cooing over Baby and “enjoying my newborn” (whatever that means), I was hammering shots of painkillers and laxatives chased with injections to thin my blood to stop myself dying of blood poisoning.
Our lack of mama-baby bond wasn’t helped by the fact that Whoopsy would scream his head off whenever I touched him. It didn’t matter what I was trying to do.. pick him up, feed him, cuddle him, change him… it all received the same reaction of ‘GET THE FUCKING FUCK OFF ME YOU FUCK’. Needless to say, I touched him as little as possible as a result. T would return home after work to find Whoopsy sitting in the beanbag, eyeing me warily, and me curled up in a ball on the furthest piece of furniture trembling.
So what changed? Eventually he decided that I wasn’t trying to murder him whenever I was within a foot of him and starting sullenly accepting my mothering advances. Rather than screaming in my face, he instead changed tactic to punching me in the face and pulling my hair. Although more physically painful, I can pretend now that it is accidental violence rather than purposeful abuse. The screaming has been replaced with baby ‘chatting’ too. As far as I know, he could still be telling me that he thinks I’m a baboon, but I can more easily pretend otherwise.
I found myself staring at him one day, when he was around eight weeks old, thinking ‘God, I just love him so much.’ Finally, I thought. Finally, I’m a normal person feeling normal feelings. I felt a wave of relief. Followed by a wave of absolute terror. Oh my God, I thought, I love him more than anything else. And the world is going to hurt him. Overcome with paralysing fear I starting thinking about all the ways that my baby could be harmed, from the rational to the fantastical. I could fall down the Underground escalator with him in his sling! There might be a bomb on the 59 bus when we go into town to pick up biscuits! He might try drugs when he is fifteen and overdose! Going to bed became a one-man cinema as my mind conjured up every dramatic way that Whoopsy could come to harm. It now feels like it is my job – and my only real job – to keep him safe and protected from all of life’s ills. I’ve had some stressful jobs in my time, but they were nothing in comparison to this role.
Elizabeth Stone wrote “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” It’s such an accurate description. But until he can actually walk, at least I can keep my heart next to my chest where he belongs. Or, you know, in his baby bouncer next door where I can’t hear him cry.