Charting a baby's age is not unlike charting a relationship's age. "It's our three-month anniversary," I once announced to Mr T, simultaneously holding my hand out for what I believed would be a deserving memento to mark such an occasion. He, in turn, would look at me with a mixture of confusion and unabashed terror on his face. "That's today? How are you counting exactly? From the day we met or from the day we went out on an official date?"
“Both,” I’d tell him, unwavering in my high expectations. “They’re different anniversaries.”
With Baby A and her monthly milestones, it’s not all that different. She was born on September 15, and on the 15th of every month, I try to mark the occasion in some way. And I almost always regale Mr T with snippets of the memories I made the day that Baby A was born.
“All I ate that day was a pistachio macaroon, did I tell you?” I’d say to Mr T, for maybe the fifth time already, pretending not to notice how he winces at the reminder that he never made it to the labour.
Telling and retelling Baby A’s birth story keeps it fresh in my mind. On the one hand, it’s a good way for me to prevent my emotions from duping my mind into thinking having another baby might be a good idea. On the other hand, reminiscing is the only therapeutic way I can think of to deal with the reality that Baby A is growing – and fast.
What a cliché to say that children grow so fast, and to remind ourselves to enjoy the time because it flies, but there you have it: clichés are named thus for a reason. I am in constant awe at the changes in Baby A with the passing of every week, let alone every month, and I constantly have to remind myself this is called “growing up”, not “I knew it, my baby is a miracle child”.
And I do want her to grow up, and bloom, and prosper; of course I do. But at the same time, I want her to stay exactly the same forever. I cheer every time I find a discernible piece of evidence that she is bigger, smarter, faster, more aware – I photograph and jot down notes in the baby book and tweet the news to friends and family near and far – and then I cry in despair that I have lost one more day of her sweet, newborn status.
Mr T can’t relate. He finds her more and more fascinating with the passing of every month. The delight he gets from knowing that she is now interacting with him purposefully – laughing at his funny expressions, searching for him when he hides behind the couch, scolding him loudly and with pointed finger when he doesn’t hand over a toy in good time – is intensely satisfying, he says.
“She’s becoming more of a little person everyday, and less of a helpless baby,” he is prone to say, and with no little amount of pride and excitement. Meanwhile, I’m the one wondering what happened to the baby content to lie cradled in my arms for hours, compared to the energetic little monkey constantly squirming to slide out of my hold and speed-crawl across the room to destroy what’s left of the bookshelf.
She just turned 10 months old. In the span of one week, she learnt how to clap, wave bye-bye, give kisses when prompted and throw one hell of a temper tantrum. To celebrate, we’re installing a gate to block off our kitchen from one very determined little baby.
Hala Khalaf is deputy Arts&Life editor at The National
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