Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Planet baby

Life with newborns is a strange alternate reality, a shadowy, dreamy half-life of sleepless nights and hazy days. I know that outside our little universe, people are returning to work, getting geared up for 2008, exchanging holiday stories and grumbling about being back at the grindstone. Our days are a treacle-paced treadmill of breastfeeding, wandering dawn streets with crying babies, snacking one-handed and keeping chaos at bay - just.

The days are either scorching hot or raining, so between 9.30a.m. and four in the afternoon we're pretty much housebound. All the usual options for inhospitable days - movies, the pool, the beach, even the local shopping mall - are inappropriate for brand new babies. Even the backyard is baking. So we pace the house, frazzled and sweating, crooning softly to hot grizzly babies.

Our wonderful neighbours, academics both, drop in almost daily with small gifts - a bag of lychees, some fresh muffins - and bring news of the world: a success at work, an invitation to present at a conference. We reciprocate with small developments: Junior smiled this morning, the babies slept for three hours straight at the same time. It's an odd exchange. Sometimes I try to read the newspaper so I have something else to say, but I feel so removed from inflationary pressures and political intrigues that I can't really be bothered.

The Australian Open is permanently on - with the sound down, nights - and I have finally cracked the arcane codes of games, sets and matches, seeding and grand slams.

I'm slightly stoned on exhaustion and the oxytocin released when breastfeeding. I know I'll look back on this time as a magical time - brand new babies, Lovergirl home all the time, both of us finding our ways as mothers and establishing our new parameters as a family. I want to notice every moment. I used to go bushwalking, proper bushwalking in the Victorian Alps for days on end, carrying everything in a backpack: tent, food, water, bedding. Newborns are like mountain bushwalking. Once you've climbed Mt Bogong, you look back on it as the most amazing thing you've ever done. But in the moment, your knees are aching, your back is aching, you're cold and wet from the rain or sunburnt and sweating with no shade above the snowline, you're exhausted and the only thing that keeps you moving forward is knowing there is no other way to get out.


meli said...

oh. wow. not having been there, i can't say much else. but you write about it beautifully. and i'm sure once you reach the top (or maybe a plateau at higher altitude) you'll be glad of this record of the journey.

Marie Raiend said...

It is absolutely wonderful to read your messages. Your babies are gorgeous. I can't wait to be back in Brisbane to see you all.
Cherish and enjoy every sleep deprived moment - just wait until they're 13!!
with love to you all

tracer123 said...

Fill up the bath and hop in, babies and all.

ThirdCat said...

I went to the Art Gallery a couple of times when I had my first baby - he was born in a very, very hot summer too. Just don't pay for any of the visiting exhibitions, because it will be a total waste of money.

Eilyk Nella-Yarbwom said...

well, we picked up our van today, very exciting, it's been a few mad weeks of van testing and problems at the hospital etc, but i think we're nearly there now (nearly where?@!) and would love you four to come round and enjoy our air conditioning! how about saturday? let's talk... my phone arrived back so i am communicable! eilyk xxx