How to describe this? I’m sitting on my sofa, grey February light outside, and there’s a baby on my lap. He just had a very small feed and is now asleep.
He didn’t exist two months ago. He is now here, a combination of peachy skin, pouchy nose, long, brittle eyelashes under fluffy, barely visible eyebrows. Mouth floppy and tucked in on itself like a mollusc. Superfine brown hair brushing the inside curve of his ear. Half asleep, now, half drinking and huffing at the breast, hands opening and closing. He scratched his cheek this morning with sharp tiny nails that I don’t know how to cut. The little red scratch looks sore on his cheek.
This is a close up description, a collection of nouns and adjectives reporting just this immediate moment of Theo Paredes, because so much of life is like that right now. I’ve been trying to put my mind to a topic to write about but topics won’t come – or they do, but they rise in and out of the brain in barely visible cycles. Abstract ideas and long term trends in my life and emotions escape me. That version of me, the one that thinks and analyses and comes to a conclusion, is hibernating. I’ve been half heartedly trying to wake her but then Theo – or the basic life tasks I fit around Theo – take over again.
I take care of my baby. I’m a carer. That’s what I do, what I am right now. In brief moments when he’s sleeping or off me, and when I’m not also sleeping, I’m racing myself to complete tasks. I choose the tasks based on what’s most important and what will fit into the time I think I have. Shower, make meal, load dishwasher, hug my husband, pour drink, go to toilet. Put sling on so I can carry on doing some things when he wakes up. The time slots are unpredictable because I don’t know how long he’ll sleep or when he’ll want to feed. I experience time and days like I imagine my body operates inside the skin: my needs trigger automatic biological responses alongside a few deliberate actions I choose to make. I’m an Attenborough timelapse film, nature’s systems moving in delicate, beautiful then ugly then beautiful symbiosis.
Each hour is interspersed with the sensations and emotions of being with Theo. Warm fluffy damp hair against my cheek as he droops on my shoulder. The he-keeps-grizzling frustration, the hi-mum-morning-smile joy, the screaming-and-I-can’t-get-to-him desperation in the car. The Felipe’s-exhausted-but-I-need-him-to-help guilt. Slippery baby skin in the warm bath. Sharp release as he latches on to breastfeed.
This is all it feels right to write now. Bigger themes will come back, I hope. But this hinterland is actually ok. Sometimes it’s lovely. I have another person in my life that I love totally, another person to delight in and trust completely. They are rare and hard to find. With this one, I have the most intimate and permanent connection of all. He was part of me, he came out of me, he feeds from me and as he grows and becomes himself he’ll always be perfectly proportioned to me and my love. I’ve no idea what that will look like, but I had no idea what he would look like, what life with him would look like, before he entered the world. No idea at all. And it’s now more real than anything has ever been.