It happened Thursday morning, right there on Charlie's new play mat. We had our first major bonding moment. I had succumbed to new mother pressure and returned from a solo shopping mall trip with Charlie's first real toy. A hideous, garish-coloured baby gym which, tragically, does not co-ordinate with my domestic decor. This isn't the kind of gym that's meant to burn off baby blubber; it's actually an activity mat for newborns. I watched his response as I laid him down on the quilted mat and his innocent face peered up at the dangling stuffed animals above him. His dark blue eyes widened, his podgy little legs kicked and he gazed back at me with a look of fascination and approval. And that was it. I fell in love. This little being, who has me working around the clock for him, who wakes me whenever he fancies a bit of nosh, who cries sometimes for no logical reason, whose three functions consist of eating, sleeping and filling his nappy, is now the love of my life. It's been an uphill struggle, this bonding process. I mean, let's face it, the first days of being a mum are hardly appealing. If there was a job advertised for a new mother, who in their right mind would apply for it? Wanted. A new mummy. Challenging role working 24/7, management responsibility for a small disruptive team of one, annual leave zero, salary, erm, zero. Annual bonuses paid in coos and occasional gummy smiles. Goodness, three weeks in that job and I'd be marching straight off to an employment tribunal. Actually, that could be an option. Wonder if I could resign? I suppose I can't, now that I've officially bonded, but perhaps I could ask my husband for a pay rise. Again.
Charlie has had a busy week with visitors, which is rather unfortunate given his current problems. He has developed a skin condition called milia, which is a rash of white spots dotted all over his face and shoulders. When it first appeared, I was very laid back about it (or not, as the case may be). I've read that it's a very common condition in babies. Well, we don't do common in my world. Oh yes, this vicious streak of vanity now covers not just myself, but my newborn son as well. It is essential that he keeps to my high standards. Presentation is the key to everything, especially when there's a constant stream of people coming to see him. And there he is sporting a face full of baby acne. I think a lot of my friends wondered why they had to visit him in his darkened nursery. With the blackout curtains drawn. Well, they say good lighting can transform a person's face. Or a mask, as would be more appropriate in this case.
He's also got a rather large double chin. Unsurprising given that he is now consuming the same amount of milk as a six-week-old. The bottle which we feed him from is nearly as long as his torso and he can knock it back in 10 minutes flat. Give or take a few burps. Then he leans back into the corner of the sofa with his puffed out belly, and his bloated cheeks looking like a mini Buddha. My husband keeps repeating the old saying that at the moment our son has got a face that only a mother could love. And love him I do. Especially when it's dark.