Katie is three months old today. It hit me a few days back that this was actually a quarter of a year, which somehow sounds much older – the thought that my baby has lived through an entire quarter of a year of extrauterine life is mind-boggling. Then again, it’s also mind-boggling to think that this time last year she was just a twinkle in our eye. I know it’s a hopeless cliché to say that the time has flown past, but what can I say? It’s flown past.
She will crane her head and shoulders forward when she’s in her bouncy chair, trying to sit up properly. She will swipe at objects suspended in front of her with an adorable look of puzzled concentration on her face as she tries to figure out this new experience. She coos and gurgles and squeals.
I’ve spent the past few days sorting out the 3 – 6 month clothes, not before time – she has been bursting out of her current ones for days now. I’ve hardly been able to do the poppers up. Today, I finally stored them away. Good god, was that ever a nostalgic moment – all those outfits that she looked so adorable in, most of them ones that Jamie previously looked so adorable in, and I’ll never put any of them on a baby again. I put a couple of my favourites on her this morning to get some last photos – the personalised T-shirt Emms made for Jamie, the pink romper suit and stripy top that my mother-in-law gave me before she was born and that comprise the first girly outfit I put on her, among all those hand-me-downs of Jamie’s. That one was far too big for her when I first dressed her in it – now she fills it.
I was pleasantly surprised to find just how much I enjoyed these months, this time around. Having my first baby left me with the general impression that the first six months are the bit you endure in order to get on to the better bits. Well, to a large extent I felt that way about the first two years, but the first six months left me struggling to remember that the appropriate response when someone has just become the parent of a newborn is in fact "Congratulations!" and not "Oh, well, never mind – you only have to hang in there for six months before it starts getting better." I’d hoped that this time, what with having had some practice, I’d dislike it less; but I hadn’t expected to enjoy it as much as I have. It’s amazing what a difference it makes to have acquired the ability to ignore any parenting books that tell me to do things an entirely different way from whatever way is currently working perfectly well for me. And, of course, to have a baby who stops nursing at the end of a feed and who settles well to sleep when she’s tired. And to live in a house I like in a town I like, with a few friends around. Granted, the past few months have sometimes been exhausting and overwhelming, but then so were the few years before that. All in all, it’s been a lovely time.
However, with the exception of the wrench of putting away the first lot of baby clothes, I haven’t felt any nostalgia at all for the newborn stage. Which is quite something, considering my astonishing ability to get nostalgic over the ending of some the most hated stages in my life. I suppose it’s because all the good things about the early months – the cuteness, the cuddliness, the gurgles – persist into the next period of babyhood, so I don’t feel I’m losing anything except the steep learning curve and frequent night wakings. (It would be an exaggeration to say I’m losing those, unfortunately, but they’re definitely less pronounced as time goes by.) Besides, the longer this parenthood thing goes on for, the more interesting it gets. I’m passionately impatient to get on to the next stages – the stages of watching Katie learn how to do things and of seeing her own interests emerge. Being a parent is more exciting than Christmas.