Six years ago, Fred arrived and I became a mother. His birth was not without trauma, but he remained calm throughout. We knew he was not stressed because I was connected to a monitor designed to measure his heartbeat the entire time; a few complications meant I had it strapped to my ample belly throughout the birth. In a way it was lucky because a midwife called Patience stayed with me throughout my labour. I couldn’t have the water birth I’d planned, but not having done it before or since, I still don’t know if I was missing out. He was also back to back. Yes it was painful. But it was six years ago, and thankfully it’s difficult to recall just how much.
No-one can really prepare you for motherhood. You can read all the books. You can look after other people’s kids, knowing you can hand them back at the end of the day . But no-one can really describe how you feel when your baby arrives. It’s like falling madly and deeply in love. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. I felt like I had known him all my life, this tiny, hungry creature.
Motherhood has had its extreme highs and lows. There has always been love and an immense sense of awe at the growing up process; the learning, the development of a personality that he has had since birth. I’m not denying that there have also been moments of despair; Fred was a tough toddler to deal with. I found that part especially hard – and lonely. But he’s six now. And I must say, it feels like a golden age.
Six years on, it really is quite hard to remember life before Fred. I don’t write too much about him on here, but here are some Fred facts to celebrate his sixth birthday.
- He was 8lb 14oz when he was born, and always in the 90 something percentile as a baby, yet he’s not particularly tall now for his age.
- He was a very smiley baby and used to try and engage all sorts of people on the bus; Russian alcoholics have cooed over him, large men with lots of tattoos have had their arms stroked; he always used to actively look for someone to smile at.
- He used to do this ‘jazz hands’ thing and heavy breathing when he was excited (aged 8 months I should say, not last week).
- He was an early talker but a late walker. He hasn’t stopped talking since.
- I think his first word was ‘more’, before he was one. When he was about 18 months old, grumpy in the morning, he used to shout – ‘No More Words’ at me and Michael – he didn’t know the word for ‘shut-up’. We called him the ‘tiny taliban’ (he was very grumpy in the morning).
- We had a male nanny when he was 2, he taught him to recognise all the car badges. He could walk down the road and name all the cars – including the really obscure ones like Lexus and Mitsubishi. Can’t do it now. They would also look through ‘What Car’ together. Bless.
- He’s always liked playing games. He’s learning chess at the moment. My dad, who is pretty shit hot at chess has been giving him a few pointers.
- He was one of those toddlers who runs away all the time. Unless you have one, you don’t know what I mean. They must be watched at all times. They are afraid of nothing. When Fred was 3, my husband lost him in Windsor. He scooted off in Marks and Spencers. He was found half an hour later in the back of a police van, not particularly worried by the experience – I can’t say the same for Michael. (Luckily I didn’t know about it at the time as I had no reception on my mobile phone. It would have been terrifying.)
- He’s loud, very loud.
- He’s an extrovert. Most unlike my husband, who’s an introvert through and through.
Happy Birthday Fred!