Seems a long time ago now but Christmas was a special one for me this year. My boy was oblivious despite the Christmas jumpers he was forced to wear (the only present he got from me) but I loved it. Last year, I couldn’t have imagined how much this boy’s personality would already be intact at this stage and what good company he is. Despite not knowing anything unusual was going on, apart from the excitement of having a tree in the sitting room (with lights!), he enjoyed having family staying and didn’t find it odd or disturbing to have random people at the breakfast table or taking him out for walks.
It’s fascinating watching him develop. He spontaneously waved goodbye to his grandparents for the first time this weekend, which was very cute. He’s making great sounds, including a hilarious “Ra-RA-ra-RA!” when he’s angry. He has a powerful set of lungs and better voice projection than me, is a great mimic and loves to sing. He sang along today to the “la la la” bit of the Furchester Hotel theme tune and enjoys the singing bits best. I had been wondering what he takes in at all when watching TV. A few weeks ago, Peppa and her friend Suzy Sheep (I know….) blew raspberries at each other, and he took the bottle out of his mouth and did the same. So, it seems he comprehends some of what he sees on the box. He definitely also understands some words, such as curtain, bath, window, birdies, Granny and Grandad.
His bottom two teeth were looking pretty lonesome for a few months but the top two are nearly down and have a large Brigitte Bardotesque gap between them. I don’t think this is from my side, as none of us have gaps, so am guessing it’s from the donor, as with his height and blonde hair and his pointy chin. He’s gone from looking like baby photos of the donor to becoming very like me as a baby. My mother finds the similarity very striking and even I can see the strong resemblance from my early photos.
He crawls around very quickly and pulls himself easily in and out of standing position, which is perfect for opening kitchen cupboards and swinging off their handles. For a while, he wasn’t interested in what was inside them but this has changed in the last week, and he’s starting to poke around at the enticing cleaning agents, food processor parts and bags of flour within. He can sidle along a sofa using his hands, which gives him a lot more freedom. He’s been a very sturdy boy since day one, despite having that heart condition from birth, and I won’t be surprised if he starts walking quite early. I feel so grateful that they were able to fix his little heart. He may need the valve replaced some day but for now he’s a healthy and happy little boy and I thank the universe for our good luck.
At his seven-month checkup, he wasn’t great at doing a pincer movement between finger and thumb and he’s not much better at this now, still tending to pick up food and smash it into his mouth or bury it in his hand and forget about it. This is because I spoon-feed him most of the time and I’ve been trying to give him more little bits to feed himself with, but I find it super-stressful when he jams too much in and starts to choke. He is brilliant though at eating every single thing I give him, regardless of texture, colour and taste, and long may this last. I really want to have a baby who eats pretty much what I’m having to the extent this is possible and, so far, it’s looking good, though I know things change as they get older.
I think I’ve mentioned before that my donor described his elder son as being very sociable and interested in people and so is my boy, in spades. As a result, I had a major Guilty Mammy moment last week at his nine-month developmental check. We were waiting for our turn with two other babies and their parents and my boy made a beeline straight for the other crawler, started singing and touching his face and basically making friends. He was delighted with the company and basking in the attention of all the adults, who commented on how friendly he was. The penny dropped loud and clear that it was time to start taking him to some baby groups, which I haven’t been doing at all.
I have various reasons for this. First, I have a lot of family and friends around and he (as a small baby) got plenty of interaction from them, plus they kept me sane enough not to need the company of other mothers. I think a lot of baby groups in the early days are to get the mother out of the house and surround her with adult company and people going through the same traumas things and I just didn’t feel the need.
Second, I’ve been working, at a lot less than full steam but enough to make juggling all the parts of the day a little stressful. I’m working a lot at night, which is the only chance I get to enjoy a stretch of quality time, but also trying to squeeze the odd job in during the day. I have frequent moments of stress where I realise I’m being the opposite of mindful and not devoting my time and complete head space to my boy but you do what you have to do and I don’t feel guilty for earning a little money. I’d love to be on year-long maternity leave like most of my friends but being self-employed has had many other benefits, including giving me a much easier ride when going through fertility treatment. And the plan is that it will give me the flexibility to not have to spend half of what I earn on childcare.
Third, I live in a relatively middle-class area and (unfairly) had a picture in my mind of Ugg boot-wearing, fake-tanned, privileged mothers complaining about rich husbands not doing their fair share (I’m exaggerating but you know where I’m coming from). I find it hard enough to keep up with my genuine friends without adding Yummy Mummies to the mix.
We don’t have the Single Mothers by Choice organisation here but there is a Facebook-led group of solo mothers who meet up once a month. I’m not on Facebook and so not a part of it but hear about it from one of the two solo mamas I’ve met up with through the SMC page of a parenting website. Their numbers are small enough and the children of such varying ages that the benefit for my boy at this stage would be limited, though I do plan to meet with them when he is older so he can see more families like ours.
Anyway, seeing him at the nine-month check spurred me into action, so this week we went to a parent (= solely mothers, poor men) and toddler group in the local library on Monday and to a nursery rhymes singalong at the local Methodist Church hall on Tuesday. We had today off but will probably be back with the Methodists tomorrow (tea and biccies for the mothers, win win) and then see what Friday has to offer.
He LOVED the toddler group. We were late, as his nap is at the same time, but the awed look on his face when we launched ourselves into the melee was priceless. I steered him towards two boys of around the same age and one of them sweetly handed him a little book. I’m surprised at the interaction of kids of that age and it was lovely to see. I explained to some of the mothers what had brought me there and they were very friendly. Most of them were from other countries, I noticed, I’m guessing because they don’t have as much family here as those who were born in the country. And not an Ugg boot in sight.
The nursery rhymes were more for kids of toddler age, who are able to actually sing and do the actions, but he enjoyed this too, particularly the end, when he was able to crawl around the big space with the few kids who were left.
So, this is how many of my mornings will look for the next while. I have to get childcare sorted but am procrastinating and procrastinating. In an ideal world, I would do things with him in the mornings and have him cared for in the afternoons while I work. We’ll see if I can swing that one. For now, I will try to be mindful during the day and just enjoy spending time with my little man.