2014-11-20

My boy is six months old today.

What a remarkable six months it has been. Remarkable in how unremarkable it has been. We’re now a very ordinary family.

After a truly horrendous pregnancy, my resilient boy got himself born and then… thrived.

Having been born at an ickle 4lb1oz BabyA has now quadrupled in size. People are now remarking that he looks like a little boy rather than a baby, and that he has the features of his Daddy. He is tall for his age – yes, even his birth age.

So what have we been up to?

We do the usual stuff that families with new babies do. Feeding, eating. BabyA eats plenty and has gained weight steadily and now started to catch up a bit in size. When BabyA was in hospital and for a little while after I worked my ass off expressing milk but never managed to get more than about an ounce over a full day (6x) pumping. So BabyA has had a bit of expressed milk for the first six weeks then after that he’s been exclusively formula fed. He doesn’t seem any the worse for it, and we’ve had no trouble bonding. BabyA has always woken up to be fed overnight, but he’s a good sleeper going down OK and going straight back to sleep after his night feeds. I could do without the waking, but I’m assured it could be much worse.

I look after BabyA pretty much full time. We go to swimming class, and music class, and baby/parent film screenings. We have some new friends with babies of a similar age.

The husband is a very involved father, getting his hands dirty with the feeding and the changing and the playing.

We’ve had more medical appointments than most babies have by this age, but these have been pretty much routine. BabyA is being monitored by the GP and Health Visitor and Neonatal Unit – but has always been declared fine. He has some extremely minor issues that are consequences of his prematurity – an undescended testicle (now descended), an umbilical hernia (improving, expected to right itself) and a slightly uneven head shape from all the lying about early on (improving, expected to right itself).

I’ve been very well myself. I came off the blood pressure medication in July, and have since been medication free for the first time in well over a year. I’ve not been depressed since the day BabyA was born, though I have had a few sessions of counselling to debrief the whole sorry affair.

I’m not back to myself, but I don’t really want to be. My pregnancy was a huge horrendous blip in my life and it changed everything. It ripped my life apart and took away almost everything from me. So I have nothing to go back to. I’m choosing to see this as an opportunity to start again. I don’t know what’s next. I don’t know when/if I will go back to work. For now I’m just being.

Parenthood is hard going sometimes. It is challenging in ways I could never have imagined. The days are very long. It is relentless, repetitive, you can’t get away from the responsibility. I am often plagued with self doubt. I worry that the baby isn’t happy enough or that I’m not doing well enough for him.

Having a preemie makes this all a little bit harder. So many people have said to me ‘that first smile comes at just the right time’ – meaning when you’ve almost reached the end of your tether with servicing an unresponsive lump you finally get a bit of positive feedback to recharge your battery. Well we had to wait more than twelve weeks (until a very average five weeks and six days past his due date) for that first smile. Oh my it was a long stretch.

But then, now, when he is happy I am happy. His innocent joy in playing with his toys or watching Fantasia or singing a song together does melt my heart.

And I am so desperately proud of him.

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