A baby! I have one! A really good one!
Let’s get the suspense out of the way. Drumroll: The baby is A FRENCH! It came out all pouty and tastefully nude. I know I said I wanted an Irish, but now that The Little* is here I find that I couldn’t love him any more if I tried.
I do find it weird that every card we get says “Welcome Little French!” or “Congratulations on your Baby French!” And that the clothes we’re given are blue, white and red or covered with pictures of croissants. I mean, nationality is important, but it’s not the most important thing. A baby is a baby, and I want The Little to grow up knowing that if he doesn’t want to look devastatingly chic in a neck scarf, he doesn’t have to.
French, Irish or non-binary, I cannot overstate how good The Little is. For one thing, he is extremely nice to be looking at, with his big eyes and his little heart shaped face and his fluffy, fluffy hair. You could stare at him for hours so you could, in your pyjamas, eating only biscuits and bananas, stinking like the kitty litter you haven’t cleaned since before your last shower, which was… was it… a while ago anyhow…. fluffy little… is that a smile oh a smile yes he’s smiiiiiiling.
All parents think that their babies are beautiful. This is due to hormones or evolution or narcissism. Being scientifically minded, I didn’t want to fall into this trap, so I asked the paediatrician at the hospital if, in her professional opinion, The Little was the most beautiful baby she had ever seen. “95th percentile” she laughed. I plan to publish the results of this innovative study on parental perception of infant aesthetics in a well-regarded peer-reviewed journal soon.
It is hard to find the opportunity to author innovative studies at the moment, however, because The Little is time consuming. Right now, he is sleeping. So please be very quiet, because, ordinarily, he is sleep resistant. I suspect he can hear you reading about him, and if the voice in your head is too loud, he may wake up. That’s why this entire blog post is written in whisper.
The Little is a 6S Model Infant, and, in theory, he comes with the following design features: snuggling, suckling, smiling, shitting, snoozing, and smelling excellent around the head. However, snooze is broken. At one point, I considered sending him back to the baby factory, but it turns out I’m addicted to the head smell and the smiles and find myself unable put him in the return envelope. This is how they trick you.
The Little and I have many common interests, which is a relief, because we spend a lot of time together and it would be awkward if we couldn’t agree on activities. We both like staring gormlessly out windows. We both like kitchen discos and Stevie Wonder. We are both chatty and have lots to talk about.
I’d say the main difference between us is levels of responsibility. I’m a reasonably responsible person, but The Little is not responsible at all. My Frenchman and I have to do everything for him, otherwise he’d just lie there screaming in a puddle of his own wee. It must be said that he’s not great at clearly communicating his needs to his loved ones either. I find this comforting: he’s a bit Irish at least.
There’s a lot of rules with babies, which I’ve been doing my best to follow.
For example, to avoid SIDS, you should place your baby on his back to sleep, on a flat hard surface in a slightly cool room without any blankets.
If you are one of the three or so people throughout history who has successfully convinced your newborn to sleep like this, then your baby is at risk of developing flat head syndrome and will look like a conehead.
It may help to relax your baby before bedtime with a bath, as routines are very important and babies find baths relaxing. However, you should also not do this, as bathing your infant too often causes skin problems. When you do bathe the child, use just two inches of lukewarm water. Ignore the screaming.
Your baby probably wants to sleep with you (on you to be most precise), but you should not let him because bed sharing is a significant SIDS risk. However, the worst possible thing you can do is try so hard to avoid bed-sharing that you end up falling asleep with your baby on the couch. This is the biggest SIDS risk of all. Incidentally, bed-sharing increases success with breastfeeding, which lowers the risk of SIDS, which – you’ll remember – is made higher by bed-sharing.
SWEET JESUS WE JUST NEED TO SLEEP.
Ahem. Sorry. Whispering.
Here’s an idea: you could just try not to think too much about SIDS.
Think about breastfeeding instead!
Breastfeeding is the best feeding. It is the most natural thing in the world and not at all painful and most mothers make just enough milk for their babies, except for me because I am a failure.
I personally found breastfeeding so instinctive and natural that to make sure my baby was gaining enough weight I tried: pumping after most feeds with a hospital grade pump that I rented for megabucks; administering 20ml volumes of formula five times a day through a tiny boob straw; chowing back Fenugreek, Milk Thistle, and Goat’s Rue supplements (also megabucks); taking The Little to an Osteopath (bucks to the mega); attending a specialist breastfeeding clinic; denying the baby a soother lest he develop the dreaded “nipple confusion”**; baking lactation cookies; and eating my own body weight in porridge.
Now I give The Little a bottle of formula before bed and we’re all much happier.
And we are happy. Even if we don’t know what we’re doing.
Today, as The Little lay suckered to my one formerly perfect boob like an exceptionally cute limpet, I held the whole of his tiny hand inside my palm, and I thought how one day that little hand will be bigger than mine. That future seemed ludicrously far away and, also, suddenly present. Like when you get a new passport and the expiration date is impossible – a day that will never come. Yet seeing it stamped there makes you realize that it will.
I know this is precious, precious time. Every underslept, loved up, bewildered, overjoyed, snot sucking,*** smile-blinded second of it.
And he wakes. You were reading too loud in your head.
* The Little! Because in French you call babies “Le petite.” And he is a French. See? Incidentally, I’m finding that French people have some strange terms of endearment for babies. For example, they call them “le crapaud,” which means “the toad.” This is not very nice, but is also on point because babies do look a bit like toads.
** Nipple confusion is a serious medical condition that can affect children for the rest of their lives. If you have ever seen a grown man running around the supermarket clutching a pineapple and shrieking “IS THIS A TEAT?”, you can be assured that his mother introduced a soother before breast-feeding was properly established. (We should not be too hasty in our condemnation of the mother, however, as soothers may reduce the risk of SIDS.)
*** Babies can’t blow their own noses until they’re two. You have to buy a special baby booger sucking straw. I must say that this information surprised me.