Weekly posts have clearly become more realistic than daily ones – certainly at least while Baby J is battling the Meanies. This week – touch wood, press thumbs, cross fingers – is showing very promising signs of being better than last, which really didn’t improve after my last post until the weekend.
That paragraph above was hastily typed on Tuesday, and here it is Thursday afternoon already. Baby J is awake. He needs a sleep, actually, since we’ve had a play, a feed AND a long chat since his last shut-eye, but he’s still reasonably composed – though that fisted grip on his blanket gives me some small cause for concern… Happily, Tuesday’s optimistic prediction has thus far proven accurate – we are having a much better week. Indeed, Baby J has not required any colic medication since Sunday. The Meanies – dare I commit these words to the screen – appear to be abating.
And I’ll tell you what’s cute: watching this little guy fight sleep as I sit typing beside him. We’re tuned to the classical music station on his little portable radio, he’s sitting in a lovely afternoon sea breeze, the curtains are flapping like a nimble chorus, and Baby J’s swinger gently rocks him from side to side, because, you see, we upgraded last weekend. It became imperative – confirming advice we were admittedly given right at the outset – that we acquire something capable of rocking itself. This whole foot-forever-on-the-bouncer thing was a total bust, a real mug’s game, especially for a child who needs to be upright more often than most. We were going stark raving mad. So now he has fallen asleep, albeit reluctantly, Jeremy Fisher sitting on the swinger’s plush headrest confiding something clearly of insufficient interest, and the thing keeps on rocking unattended. God, the relief. And I mean that literally, because I can now run to the toilet without interrupting the rhythmic motion that has finally lulled the little man to sleep.
I love the swinger.
So now there is a brief pause in my duties, and I am almost at a loss as to how best to use the time. I have already dashed around the house, pulling in and folding laundry, putting on another load (as necessitated by Baby J’s most recent masterful dump, a bodily spectacular six days in the making that narrowly avoided destroying said swinger but did succeed in filling, believe it or not, his belly button), peeling and boiling spuds to go with currently defrosting ‘Marriage Saver,’ tidying the nursery, loading the dishwasher, taking out the recycling and so on, and now here I am, finally, my computer strange on my knees like something I no longer know how to use.
I am reading a gift at the moment, from the lovely Samantha, whose IVF story some of you may recall from her wonderfully knowledgeable comments on various of my infertility posts. When Baby J was born, Samantha very thoughtfully and kindly sent me a copy of The Hand That First Held Mine, by Maggie O’Farrell. I finished Cate Kennedy’s The World Beneath a few days ago, which took FOREVER because of Baby J’s Screaming Meanies, but I’m comparatively galloping through the O’Farrell as he is so much improved that I can actually read while I hold him, something that couldn’t be attempted while he was in the grip.
I suspect I’m also bolting the novel because one half of the split narrative concerns a couple with a newborn baby. O’Farrell’s fictional depiction is astonishing in its familiarity and accuracy. I couldn’t hope to ever write about my own actual experience as well as she has succeeded in writing about an invented one. It has already left me a bit slack-jawed – the portrait is so uncanny. It’s the universalities that do it, of course, but the details with which they are furnished are truly striking, made all the more poignant (he’s awake and none too happy about it, by the way, so this post has just acquired a certain urgency) by holding my own new son while I read. I’m admiring the writing greatly, and must send Samantha a note of thanks once I’ve finished it. Talk about a well-chosen gift. My challenge will be succeeding as well when her own baby – that little miracle – shortly arrives.
As for The World Beneath, I enjoyed it very much too. I’ve mentioned Cate Kennedy a few times here; she conducted the short story workshop I attended a little while ago with Fugitive Pieces, and is one of Australia’s most renowned exponents of the form. This is her first novel, set mainly in Tasmania’s treacherous, Jurassic-style wilderness. The characterisations of the three main protagonists are both affectionate and unflinching – I lost count of the number of times I chuckled in recognition of one of these types. And the action was engrossing – I don’t want to give too much away, but most of you have probably heard of walkers going missing in one or another of Australia’s vast national parks, and it is always a race against time and conditions to find them and get them out alive. It makes for sobering reality, but gripping fiction, and Kennedy is another writer, like O’Farrell, with a really enviable eye for the telling detail. It is a rare skill, separating really great writing from the merely competent. And oh, how I love to read great writing.
Unexpected irritation: my internet connection isn’t working. God knows when I’ll get this up.
Postscript: In less than a day!
Post-postscript: Just in case there was any doubt about it, I had some cheese on my lunch today after one of the other mothers said she’s found a bit is okay for the reflux and colic, and it is NOT okay for us. We have just had his first Screaming Meanies all week, immediately following the very next feed. I can’t believe I did this to him. I won’t be dabbling in dairy again in a fit while I am still feeding this baby. Case closed.