Monday, August 19, 2013

Human magic.

The human body is amazing. The capacity we have to heal (physically) astounds me, and I've had more opportunity to witness this in the last year than the rest of my life put together.

Just over two weeks ago I got out of bed and walked, took my own thigh high stockings off (not as glamorous as they sound, and also not an easy feat at the best of times) and showered - less than 24 hours after major abdominal surgery. Nearly ten months ago I walked home from hospital two days after having my skull sawn open. That's mad. 

And then there's Alfred. My body grew him, from, like, what exactly? He didn't exist at all, and then a little sac existed that he would grow into, and then he slowly started to exist. And suddenly here he is, fully formed. He has forehead wrinkles, and knuckles. Already there. And he knows to rub his eyes when he's tired. How does he know that? Where there was nothing, there is now Alfred.

There are so many cliches around having a baby. I found them all incredibly dull before Alfred arrived, and am slightly piqued that many are turning out to be true. One thing that we were consistently warned about is how fast he would grow. It's incredible. His face changes daily and he has grown out of clothes already.

Before he was born I had this wonderful plan to take a photo of his face every day so that we wouldn't forget. Except I keep forgetting. I am torn between wanting him to stay this little forever and wanting him to be grown up so I know what happens to him, what he does and what he's like. It's slightly terrifying how much of a blank slate he is right now, and the thought of the tightrope we have to walk in order to give him the best launch pad. 

Either way, he is growing. At quite an incredible rate, it's like magic.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The value of NCT.

We signed up for anti-natal classes with the NCT a while ago, for two reasons. We haven't really got a clue about babies, and we wanted to meet people who were in the same boat in our area. It's quite an expensive operation, and I'd heard quite mixed experiences from friends but we went ahead anyway. I was disappointed that there isn't a class in Camberwell, and we were too late for the East Dulwich one, so we settled on Brixton. Which is pretty close anyway.

At first I found it really tedious. There was lots of information, but two hours at the end of a long day at work nearly finished me off. In the first weeks there wasn't much chance to get to know anyone either as the sessions were so full on. I was initially worried about the reaction to my elective caesarian, but everyone was very supportive. The mention of a brain tumour usually sorts that out.

As the weeks went on I warmed to the whole process and our "teacher" grew on me too. I found her views on homeopathic remedies refreshing. She refrained from the full blown rant I would have succumbed to, but made it clear what she thought. Skillfully.

Our group is lovely, I think we've been really lucky. It's blatantly apparent though that in the middle of Brixton we must be the only eight white middle class pregnant couples - all married. In contrast to a visit to Kings, where we are frequently the only white couple in the waiting room. NCT goers are a self selecting group, and a homogenous one. The cost and the perceived values of NCT mean it will only be attractive to a certain demographic. That's a shame, for the NCT.

But the real value to me is only just coming into play. We have started popping! Alfred was the first to arrive, and he is two weeks old today. Since then there have been two more babies and I suspect one more is on the way right now.

The support and banter of the other NCT girls has been great. I didn't know these people before I was already heavily pregnant and there isn't any history to our relationships. But that makes it simple. We have one major thing in common and can talk about it without prejudice or politics. We're all in the same situation and it's comforting to go through it with other people. It is almost a benefit that I didn't know them before.

I always suspected that it would be the people that made the NCT experience, and that has turned out to be the case. I am glad we did it and I can't wait for the others to arrive.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Special delivery.

It was impossible to imagine having a baby. Not the act of giving birth (I spent a lot of energy trying not to imagine exactly that), but having another person living with us who we would be totally responsible for.

It was incredibly surreal as we approached the end of the pregnancy, especially given that we knew when it was all going to kick off. Everything became a countdown, but with no knowing what the other side would be like. I was excited, but just couldn't get my head around what it meant.

And now we're here, the other side. Alfred Morley was born on Friday 2nd August at 9:52am. He is brilliant. We've been home just over a week now, and although I am tired and tend to burst into tears twenty times a day for no reason, everything is going really well. He eats a lot and sleeps a lot and spends the rest of the time looking around in wonder with massive brown eyes. He is impossibly tiny, a tiny human.

What is strange is how normal it all feels. Except normal isn't really the right word. I don't think we have any concept of normal anymore as everything has been so weird for quite a while. It feels right though. Can't ask for more than that.

Alfred Colin Morley.