Monday, January 31, 2011

Wash day, last of the sun and ginger biscuit.

1. Alec stares and stares at our tumbling washing.

2. It's late afternoon and the sun has withdrawn itself from us on the ground. But high in the ivy tree two collared doves are still enjoying warm gold light.

3. The last ginger biscuit: it needs eating.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Smiler, out and pie.

1. Alec wakes from his post-mid-morning-feed stupor and gives me a selection of wide, gummy smiles.

2. A new draught excluder keeps out prying fingers of cold air.

3. This round steak and stout pie is as cheerful as the sun on a day that promises fine weather.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Catching the light, lunch break and mittens.

1. Now we have a chair in the nursery, Alec and I can enjoy the few hours of sun in the middle of the day.

2. A father in a high-vis jacket meets his wife and son for a lunchtime walk in the park.

3. Nick says his boss lost her gloves today. "I told her about Alec's mittens and kittens song," he says, "and it cheered her up." I've been singing Three Little Kittens to Alec. It's hard to know what the appeal is for him -- maybe the different faces for the contrite kittens and the displeased mother cat, or maybe it's the sliding meee-ow, mee-ow.

Friday, January 28, 2011

For my benefit, up town and guidance

1. While he's feeding, Alec sometimes gives a little sigh as if to imply, according to my mother, that he's really only doing this for my benefit.

2. I do a little supermarket shop with Alec in his pram. It isn't nearly as bad as I imagined. Later, the man in the ink cartridge shop opens the door for me.

3. Yet another patient breast feeding councillor takes time out of her day (and evening) to guide and reassure me.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Moving castle, teacakes and tuckered out.

1. For Christmas I received The Art of Howl's Moving Castle. Howl's Moving Castle is one of my favourite books, and it was made into a film by one of my favourite directors, Hayao Miyazaki who heads Studio Ghibli. I've been looking through the art a few pages at a time, and enjoying the commentaries by the artists and animators who worked on the film. They are disarmingly humble about their work -- there is often a slightly self-critical tone to their comments, particularly the never-ending quest to achieve a European look.

2. A plate of marshmallow teacakes wrapped in blue foil.

3. Alec has had a hard afternoon of socialising, and when we get home, he falls asleep across my knees while I listen to an episode of Lord Peter Wimsey on BBC Radio 7.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Love songs, wayfinder and southern gothic.

Three bloggers who are recording happy things -- Anisa writes about her time in Madrid; words and pictures on Posterous by Imperfect Pages; and Gillian over at Sky Blue Pinkish.

1. We wake up to Radio 3 playing Ae Fond Kiss, one of Robert Burns' love poems set to music. This is followed by the wedding march from Handel's Midsummer Night's Dream, which was our processional music.

2. Anna comes over to lunch. She brings a stone bead set with a tiny compass for Alec. "I think it might be a watch chain charm," she says. "It's for his cabinet of curiosities. With parents like you he's bound to have a cabinet of curiosities." I think it will also keep him pointing in the right direction, and I'm looking forward to helping him fill his cabinet.

3. I finish The Missing by Tim Gautreaux, which I have enjoyed thoroughly. He manages to make a sad and frightening subject luminous. A floorwalker who dreams of playing jazz is indirectly responsible for the kidnapping of a three-year-old girl, and joins the crew of a Mississippi paddle steamer to look for her. It's a southern gothic story of redemption that has a lot in common with Annie Proulx's The Shipping News - one of my favourite books ever.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

List, lunch on a tray and get some sleep.

1. I've just discovered the list search at our on-line supermarket. Instead of searching for one item at a time, you punch in your shopping list, click search, and it brings up a selection of products for each item.

2. My mother brings my lunch on a tray and balances it on my knees in front of Alec, who is also having his lunch.

3. "You get some sleep," says Nick, and takes the grizzly Alec into the nursery for a midnight man-to-man talk.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Migrants, godfather and parsnips.

1. The piles of leaves in the park (I saw the groundsman with the leaf blower on Friday) might be herds of shaggy creatures migrating so slowly that it's impossible to see them move without a time lapse camera.

2. Tim and Rachel come for tea -- we have an important question to ask Tim. Since it's his fault that Alec is here at all, we hope he will stand as godfather. He is very pleased, and says yes. We've also asked my brother, and Nick's boss Charlotte has agreed to be godmother, so whatever befalls Alec in the future, he'll have a selection of wiser heads than ours to turn to.

3. Nick's honey roast parsnips.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Last resort, greeting and nursery rhymes.

I've just found a parenting blog written by someone who also has a Baby Badger! It's a girl baby, though, and she's six months older than Alec.

Sara commented yesterday and mentioned that she is doing a 40 things challenge for her 40th year. Her blog, Small Steps, Great Journey, is here. I think her project is rather inspiring.

1. Nick brings home the latest Continental Modeller -- his train magazine of choice. It features a layout based on the station at Arosa, the ski resort we used to go to as a family because it was much loved by my grandfather. I wonder what drove the modeller to pick this resort -- perhaps he had happy memories of one last run, Hotel Streiff and of hand feeding black squirrels and crested tits in the woods.

2. Louise comes round to meet the boy. Most guests only see him asleep, but for Aunty Loulou he is a bit cross and scratchy. She holds him, all the same, confident and unafraid, and he is eventually calm and comfortable enough to... oh dear, sorry Louise... fill his nappy.

3. A beautiful book by Alison Jay -- Nursery Rhyme Rainbow's delicate crackle glazed pictures are full of references to rhymes and poems, and we are looking forward to sharing them with Alec.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Trousers, introductions and oooer Missus.

1. I notice that Nick has hung Alec's new brown cord trousers on the end of the bed next to his own pair.

2. Caroline and Maggie (who is now nine months old) come to meet Alec. Caroline swears he gives her a smile -- I think she might be right, as I'm sure I've seen him do it, too -- while Maggie empties the wastepaper basket, plays it like a tin drum and appreciates the scrunchy papers inside.

3. The doorbell rings. I pick up Alec and his trousers fall off. By the time I get the door open, his nappy has also gone astray. The salesman almost runs down the path.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Feeding signs, sponge cake and line-up.

1. Orla's impression of a baby smacking it lips because it's thinking about a feed.

2. Sponge cake -- still warm -- covered in and filled with chocolate icing.

3. A row of NCT babies lie on a woolly rug. Everyone hopes theirs will be the one with open eyes in the photograph.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Late riser, greeting and my work.

1. I get up before Alec and do a few chores before he wakes.

2. While pushing the pram round the park I am smiling so much at the thought of Alec that a boy on a scooter smiles back and says hallo.

3. I realise that there is nothing of Alec that has not come out of me -- 50 per cent of his genetic material, vitamin K and Infacol notwithstanding.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Laughing it off, enjoy your baby and gifted.

1. The other mothers at the breastfeeding drop-in laugh at me when I say I'm worried because Alec falls asleep when he's had enough. I had it in my head that he would take himself off when he'd finished -- apparently this is not what babies do at all. I am so relieved to hear that.

2. I like the way the health visitor says: "Enjoy your baby." I heard the midwives saying it to some of the parents leaving hospital, too. It's the one piece of advice that all the healthcare professionals can agree on.

3. Nick's colleagues send him home with almost a wardrobe's worth of clothes for Alec, in all different sizes, so we'll be dressing him and thinking of them for the next 18 months. They have also sent (among other things) a squeaky rubber giraffe called Sophie -- the packaging promises that she will stimulate all of Alec's senses and teach him about cause and effect.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hidden talent, not again and fast potatoes.

1. "You know you can click this lever and your front wheels will swivel, don't you," says the registrar, once Alec is a proper person. She kneels down (in her respectful, ceremonial black trousers) and shows us. We have been perambulating around for three weeks quite unaware that we had swivelling wheels. "It makes a real difference to the handling," says Nick.

2. The park is running and gurgling with streaming rainwater. Our shoes are damp (although we've avoided walking in puddles), and so is the bag of books and certificates from the register office (although I held it tight against myself all the way home). We shut the front door and promise we are not going out again.

3. "Seven minutes," says Nick. This is the time it took him to walk to the chippie, buy chips and mushy peas, and come home again.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Change in the weather, it's cricket and grandpa.

1. It's not raining today, but clouds the colour of burning tyre smoke make us hurry out for our walk. By the time we get to the furthest point on our circuit the sky is blue and crowded with high white clouds racing east.

2. A man and small boy play cricket on the soggy January Grove. It seems to me that they are taking their preparations for summer rather too seriously. Nick says he's seeing his future.

3. My father arrives with yellow tulips and daffodils, his camera and the little nursing chair from my bedroom at home. We sit and watch Alec flicking through his collection of expressions.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sweet hankie, aunt and treacle.

My cousin Amy shares a beautiful thing: "Nipping down to the corner shop for some washing up sponges after having been confined to the house for two days. It's really windy and I become aware of just how much air there is for me to breathe in! I gulp in as much as I can on the two-minute walk."

1. We take Alec to see his paternal grandparents for the first time. Nana chats to him in baby talk, and tells us that she used to comfort Nicholas with some sugar in a handkerchief: "Just half a teaspoonful and we boiled and boiled the handkerchief."

2. Alec's aunt Sarah cradles him calmly and capably and brings us news about her own grandchildren.

3. Nick brings from the oven a substantial pudding bubbling with black treacle.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Touch, nappyload and walking in puddles.

1. A lady with a white stick comes into the waiting room. The other patient and the receptionist tell her about Alec. "Oh I wish I could see you better," she says, and comments on his hair. I offer her his head to stroke, which she likes very much.

2. The osteopath says Alec is a lovely patient. This is after our little boy filled his nappy twice during the appointment. The second was so fulsome that the receptionist had to bring us a basin of water.

3. A girl on her way home from school walks carefully and deliberately through two puddles.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Veggie box heroes, no need to change and well-wishers.

1. Raw mushrooms.

2. Baby Badger manages to keep the same outfit clean for nearly a whole day.

3. The many rows of new baby cards on our bedroom bookshelves.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Man of letters, helping finger and improved flavour.

1. A card comes from Nick's sister, niece and great nephews. Dylan, who is just about to start school, has embellished the envelope with pencilled letters, diligently copied from our address.

2. The health visitor encourages us to help Alec's wind by giving him a finger to suck between meals. We'd already been doing that, but didn't want to admit it in case it was the wrong thing to do.

3. A mouthful of dark chocolate -- according to Fenella it will make my milk taste better for Alec.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Dig it, watch and quiet time.

1. A parcel for Alec: a knitted tanktop depicting a workmanlike digger, sent south by Nick's gaming friend Simon.

2. We pop into the Oxfam bookshop to show Alec to Sandra the manager, and get chatting to one of her volunteers who is a proud grandfather. "You can look at babies for hours," he says. I can only agree.

3. Shhh. One of my favourite moments of the day is when we lay the sleeping Alec in his moses basket and snuggle up together. He'll probably join us later in the night, but for now, it's just the two of us.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Compliment, latching and getting my supper back.

1. The midwife comes for her final visit. She says that Alec is lovely -- which means a lot coming from someone whose job is babies. It also means a lot because he has baby acne, scratches on his face from his long nails and flaking skin caused by his extra two weeks inside. Nick and I know he's lovely, but it must be hard for other people to see it!

2. Yvette, whose 3BT posts I mentioned earlier this week, recommended this short film about baby-led feeding. We give it a go, and marvel of marvels, Alec latches on all by himself. What a grown up boy.

3. Other new parents have told us about the interrupted meals. We have our first experience of Alec requesting a feed just as Nick brings our supper to the table. I can only plug the baby in and watch longingly as my stew and dumplings and peas and sweetcorn goes in the oven to keep warm. It tastes so good when I get it back.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Stitched up, silky and red coat.

1. It occurs to me that for several days now I have been coughing and blowing my nose without worrying about my stitches, and for this I feel very grateful.

2. "Is his hair very soft and silky?" wonders Cat. I tell her yes it is. Would she like to stroke it? She would, very much.

3. Daniel and Ellie run ahead down the path in the winter park. In her new long red coat she looks like something out of a French film. "It does look rather French," says Alan. "I think that's why I like it." He adds that he had gone out with her to buy some tights, but saw the coat and...

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Experiencing mud, caterpillar and clothes to grow into.

1a. I take Alec into the bath with me, which he seems to like -- at least he doesn't roar or make his composing a letter to the Daily Mail face. Later I give him a massage with olive oil. He falls asleep.

1. In the Grove, at the edge of the shrubbery, a small person in a red rainsuit rolls in the mud. His mother looks back at us a little embarrassed. I hope she knows that we understand completely!

2. Every baby needs The Very Hungry Caterpillar, so my cousins have brought a copy for Alec.

3. Fenella has said before that a winter baby is lovely in this part of town because by the time summer comes around, they'll appreciate the Grove. My aunt has brought Alec a summer outfit in cool blues and greens, complete with sunhat -- perfect for taking in park life. She has also knitted a cardi in the same colours for the cooler evenings... oh let's face it, this is England -- he'll probably wear it every day between May and September. And for next winter, she has tie-dyed a babygrow -- she's even managed to mark it with an A, and to mark in his toes on the end of the feet.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

All change, put away and can you do it please.

Yvette has started writing Today I am Thankful posts on her blog. Anyone else made a new year's resolution to blog 3BT-style?

1. To hand my husband his changed and clean infant son.

2. I only put a few Christmas decorations out this year. Now it's time to wrap them in tissue and put them back in their boxes. I haven't taken down the cards yet, because thanks to the snow hold-ups they are still trickling in. I'm almost looking forward to the task -- the shelves always look so clean and empty afterwards.

3. To ask Nick to take a damp Alec away and change him.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Keep talking, smoker and parcel postman.

Drew has posted three beautiful things over at Panic I'm Nearly 30. Do let me know if you write your own beautiful things -- despite all the upheavals, and my current obsession with one particular baby, I am still interested to hear the best things about people's days.

1. I like the way whenever my chiropractor does an even slightly painful adjustment (which is very rarely) she says: "Still speaking to me?"

2. The automatic doors flap open. And shut. She stands just out of the rain hunched into her collar. Then her head pops up and she sets off, trailing a wisp of cigarette smoke the exact colour of her long blue coat.

3. A very wet and miserable postman brings a parcel during lunch. It's addressed to Nick, and he won't open it until he's finished eating, by which time I am nearly dying from curiosity. It's a gift from his work -- a hat box of bits for a baby boy, including a blue fleece blanket, a rattling rabbit, and a tiny pair of shoes.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Real world, it's in the tabs and rite of passage.

1. It's a day of visitors. First PaulV comes round to meet Alec and take a few photos. Then in the evening, Katie and Jules drop by for their introduction. It is so good to see some non-baby people.

2. We tell the midwife about this morning's baby grow filler poomagedon experience. She shows us how to put a nappy on -- properly this time. "You can do the tabs up tighter than you think." And despite the extreme off-loading, Alec has put on a pleasing few ounces.

3. While Nick gets ready for bed, I sit at the kitchen table typing a post one-handed with Alec on my knee.

Picture by Paul Viney

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Technique, see my face and dad's choice.

1. The lactation consultant sits me down in the most comfortable chair in the room -- a soft padded blue rocker -- and asks me all about the labour. Then she shows me a lovely gentle way of getting Alec to latch on (none of the shape and cram that they taught us in hospital), which also deals with his habit of grabbing at my tender nipples with his hand.

2. I'm getting to know Alec's flip book of expressions. There's his big blue eyed, wide mouthed look, which is very easy to love; and a sly sideways glance -- "He's like you when he does that," says Nick. Less loveable is his Daily Mail face, a severe and fearful frown that he puts on when we hold him under the arms for winding. We tease him that the price of moses baskets is plummeting, that baby grows give you cancer and that immigrants are stealing my milk. He is unimpressed. Put him down, and he creases up his brow and makes a rosebud mouth, waves his hands so anxiously that I jump to reassure him about something, anything at all. "This too will pass, Alec."

3. Nick comes back from his errands in town with three baby grows in manly blues.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Recall, sleeping baby and comforts.

The baby now has a middle name: Alexander David Law. My grandfather was called David, and as they share a birthday it seemed appropriate. I hope that Alec will also share some of his qualities

1. I leave the house without Alec for the first time. I'm just going across the park to Hoopers to pick up a birthday present for my mother. On the way home, I think of Alec's particular baby smell and I want to cry.

2. I sit in bed on the phone to my aunt, while the bomb-proof baby sleeps on in his basket.

3. Nick patiently comforts Alec after night feeds while the wind goes its way. Alec is still getting to know his digestive system, and finds the whole thing very alarming. We tell him it will pass, and that he'll feel better, but he wrings his hands anxiously and there's a very puzzled look about his eyes.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Blue hat, great grandmother and progress.

1. Fenella visits, bringing encouraging words and an offer of babysitting -- it means a lot to have a diligent and skilled mother willing to do this for us. She also brings some clothes, including Alec's first blue item: a knitted hat the colour of hyacinths. We put it on for his walk round the park. It suits him so well that we (very) briefly consider Hyacinthus as a middle name.

2. Granny Pat comes round to meet her first great grandson. He was born on my late grandfather's birthday, which pleases her very much. She salutes Alec smartly, and tells Nick "I was in the army for two years."

3. We're getting on better with the feeding -- mainly thanks to lanolin and a very supportive husband. Nick administers the Infacol, helps with positioning and records the time and length of each session in a notebook. He winds Alec afterwards, and gives us tonnes of praise. Our first 20-minute feed made me feel on top of the world. Alec just burped.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Nightwaves, chore and Christmas treat.

1. "It's good to have the radio for these night feeds," says Nick. "It makes you feel as if you're not the only people awake." We're listening to a New Year's Eve concert of modern folk music from Edinburgh on Radio 3 in an effort to keep Alec alert enough to feed. I never feel alone in the night -- Nick wakes up to record the details in his feed log, and spots for me as Alec latches on.

2. Although Nick has said I'm not to do any housework, I sneak downstairs and hang out the washing -- it's a task with a beginning and an end that I know I can do well, and I feel good about that.

3. I finally get my port and Stilton, although I have to have them posted into my mouth because a wakeful boy wants to sit on my knee.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Trigger, my midwife and new year.

And here, finally, is a picture of our son -- he looks a bit rough, as this was taken about ten minutes after he was born.

1. I apologise for my tears to the lady on the NCT breastfeeding helpline. "Don't worry," she says. "At this time, pouring a bowl of cornflakes makes people cry."

2. With it being a bank holiday weekend, it's a bit of a lottery as to which midwife will do the home visits. I am very pleased to hear the voice of my usual one when Nick opens the front door.

3. At midnight, we wake to the muffled popping of fireworks across town. I take Alexander to the window to watch the green and red chrysanthemums hanging in the sky. Happy New Year, Baby Badger.