The first time I’d been taken apart and put back together with everything in different places; I had no idea what was happening. The waves hit me, I surfed on a few, was swept under by several. Told myself I wasn’t planning, wasn’t trying to take control, but all the time tried desperately to find some patterns or some order to get me back to the point where I knew what I was doing.
The second time it’s this, again, and surfing and diving again, but I’ve done this before, I’m a little better at letting go. I notice patterns and quite often let them go as well. There’ll be another one along.
The first time there was only you. You were BABY, you were everybaby, you were the only baby there was, and you were everything that mattered. I’d sit and gaze at you and think about your babyness. Other babies were interesting insofar as they pointed me back to you.
The second time there’s you, straightforwardly, you in particular. I gaze at you and still see BABY but not without noticing your characteristics, how you are like and how you are unlike and what you have that is nobody else’s.
The first time I was excited by everything that looked like a development, a movement forward. You were a page-turner, I wanted the next instalment, I was seizing on all the little clues about what it might be.
The second time I want to slow it down, drag it all out. I’m a little sad at the end of each day, I think three weeks have disappeared too fast. It’s good that you’re gaining weight, outgrowing your newborn clothes, trying out a smile; but did I miss anything while you were a newborn baby, anything that will never come back?
The first time I had nightmares about dropping you or losing you or making the sort of mistake I always seem to make when I have anything valuable or beautiful to look after.
The second time my nightmares have all been about – bad things happening to your father or your brother. For some reason my subconscious seems absolutely confident that you’ll be all right.
The first time I could measure and note how your cry tensed me up and wore me down, although I couldn’t do anything about it.
The second time I can see retrospectively that that’s happened, but at the time I’ve usually been thinking about something else, and bouncing you or feeding you or carrying you alongside.