Before I was Felix I missed you

This evening I sat outside with Felix for half an hour before bedtime. I sat on the steps and knitted a baby blanket. He sped around riding his tricycle on the deck. It was pretty cold – I had to swap to my winter coat, but it was nowhere near dark. Michael had taken him outside to drive the remote control car, and then Felix asked for his bike, and we swapped. Felix is pretty good at pedalling now – he’s been practicing in the barnehage. He’s very proud of himself. He would ride up to me, stop, then say ‘goodbye Mummy, see you later!’ and do another round. It was one of those perfect moments – the grey-gold light between the still bare trees and the houses and the green green lawns, the tiny beginnings of new leaves on the hedges, the first rows of the baby blanket under my fingers, and Felix coasting around and around, chatting as he passed. And he said: ‘Mummy, before I was Felix I missed you soooooo many time’.

And it seemed as if time was centred in this moment, everything before and after pointed to now.

We have been talking a fair bit lately about where people come from, and about things that happened before Felix was born (he always says, but where was I?). He says, ‘When I was a baby…’ And he says, ‘When you were a baby…’ He says, ‘Who’s tummy was Daddy inside?’ He says, ‘how do you make a Felix?’ (Ask your father.) Once in the car he said: ‘When you were a little guy… Are you going to be little again?’ ‘No, I’ll never be little again.’ ‘But I want you to be small like me!’ ‘But I can’t be small because then I couldn’t look after you.’ ‘I want you to look after me.’

When we first started talking about the baby, he said, ‘There’s a baby in your tummy? And it’s not me?’ And later, we were walking by a busy road, and I said ‘be careful Felix and listen to Mummy otherwise a car might crash into you and there won’t be any more Felix.’ ‘Yes there will,’ he said, ‘in your tummy.’

He talks about the baby nearly every day. Last night we all sat on the sofa. He pointed at my leg. ‘One,’ he said. Then at Michael’s leg – ‘two.’ Then at himself – ‘three’, and then at my belly – ‘four’.

Truly his curiosity has been one of the nicest things about this pregnancy so far. It is a pregnancy I have longed for for more than two years, since Felix was a baby himself. I was not sure it would happen again, and I feel so utterly lucky. It is strange to think that the probability is very high now indeed that I will have a baby at the end of this. Things will change. And I am trying, in these last three months in which there are only three of us, to soak my little boy in, to listen to him, to be present for him.

As he rode around he talked to himself and to me. ‘The baby doesn’t like to sykler?’ he said. ‘No, it’s not so safe. But I’ll ride again later when the baby has come out.’ ‘When the baby’s bigger…’ He rode some more. ‘Do more stitches!’ He demanded, when I paused to look up over the trees. (A welcome change from his customary demands that I stop.) ‘I’m going to take care of you,’ he said. ‘And Daddy. And the baby.’ And then he told me he missed me before he was born.

Days

I cannot believe tomorrow is Friday again already. The weeks have been shuttling past so fast. There is always something to do but somehow there has been time for everything, time for resting, time for chatting, and even time for cleaning. In any case, there is only one week left of quite this pace – one week of teaching, and then a break for Easter, before the piles of marking will come in. To tell the truth, one pile of marking came in this week, but given that I have a paper to present on Monday that I have not had time to concentrate on before this week, the marking can wait.

Writing a paper, for the first time in so long, has been an utter joy, though of course I need to hurry up a bit now and tie up some loose ends so I have something to say on Monday. I’ll then have a month or so once teaching and marking are over to finish the longer version.

The little boy is loving not having to sleep in his ‘box’, as Michael called it. We are losing half an hour of sleep in the mornings, but it’s just about worth it to see him padding in to greet us, bearing gifts. Sunday morning he turned up with four books and announced proudly: ‘I have books!’ This morning he came with a pair of socks, a bike light, his bear for himself, Jemima Puddleduck for me, and his blue stuffed dragon for Michael. Michael had already gone downstairs so Felix propped it on Michael’s pillow for a while while he snuggled, and then carried it downstairs to present to him in person.

We have had blue skies and sunshine for hours. The world feels so different.

Spring

Had such a lovely day today. So much sunshine. It was the first day it really felt like spring, so I met some friends at a lake with a beach and and ice cream shop, and the little boys were in heaven. As soon as we got the water Felix ran straight in and his jeans and winter boots got soaked, so we took them off. Then he insisted on taking his undies off so for a while he was running around in a winter coat and nothing else! Then of course the coat came off. I sat with my friends on the rocks and drank tea from a thermos and felt the sun warm on my face. Felix threw stones into the water with his little friend. He eventually talked me into taking my shoes off and dipping my toes in, and the water was like ice. There was a ten minute walk back to the car, and he held my hand, wearing a long-sleeve t-shirt, underpants, and wet winter boots. My darling, funny, funny boy.

We have been talking about taking the side off his cot for more than a year, and the response ‘yes, we’ll do it soon’, has been starting to wear thin. This morning when I went in to get him, he had managed to loosen one of the bars. ‘I’m taking the bars off, Mummy, help me!’ And indeed he managed to take two of them out, so we decided today was indeed the day. He was giddy with delight all morning, realising he could jump onto his bed whenever he wanted, and ‘hide’ under his quilt. We’ll see what awaits us tomorrow morning…

This evening Felix sat on my lap and stroked my belly. ‘Baby’, he said, and drove his little car down the slope. ‘You can talk to her, Felix,’ said Michael, you can say ‘BAH!’ ‘Noooo, the baby doesn’t like that.’ We chatted about babies and ‘tubes’ (umbilical cords) and names for a while, and I tried to explain that Oma had chosen Michael’s name, because Oma was Michael’s Mummy. It suddenly got a bit confusing, and Felix said ‘I think Mummy should always keep Daddy and Mummy and the baby and Felix’, and I said yes, we are together, this is our family.

Brother

I am dozing on a row of empty seats on the plane. Felix pads up to me and touches my arm.

‘How you making a baby, Mummy?’

‘Erm… Very well, thank you!’

‘Your body is good at that?’

I hesitate. After three losses, it doesn’t feel like it. ‘Yes’, I say. ‘Yes it is.’

 

We are walking back to the car after a morning in town.

‘What does the baby say?’

‘Erm… Blob blob blob!’

‘Noooooooooo!’

‘Ok, what does the baby say?’

‘Beep beep beep beep beep!’

 

‘There’s a baby in Mummy’s tummy.’ He likes to say. He gives it a pat. He comes with me to a couple of doctor’s appointments and listens to the heartbeat.

‘What they put on you Mummy?’

‘Jelly, so the machine can listen.’

‘I don’t want jelly to get on the baby!’

 

One morning as we snuggle on the couch, he says – ‘I like the baby.’ He repeats all the things he knows. ‘When I was a baby, I was inside Mummy’s tummy. It was warm in there. And when I came out you were very pleased to see me and you gave me a big hug.’ ‘I just eat with my mouth but the baby has a tube! And it says beep beep beep! And when it comes out it has blood on it. And it says Waa waa waa. And it can’t walk.’ ‘When I was inside Mummy’s tummy…’ he pauses… ‘When I came out, I drank milk from Mummy’s boobies!’ ‘Who else is having a baby? I want there to be lots of babies. Sooooo many.’

 

‘Do you think it will be a boy or a girl?’ I ask him.

He looks confused.

‘You’re a boy, and Linnea’s a girl. It might be a boy like you, or a girl like Linnea.’

‘I think it will just be a baby.’

 

At the scan, two weeks ago, we discover it will be a girl. I buy some baby clothes with roses on them. I show them to Felix and Michael on the weekend. ‘Put them away!’ says Felix. ‘I don’t like them!’

That evening, he says carefully – ‘Mummy, which house the baby going to live in?’

Three

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I didn’t mean to stop writing here it just sort of happened. And then every time I think about starting, I think – but how will I say everything? So I say nothing. Today I will say something.

Felix turned three a couple of weeks ago and he is thrilled about it. He counted down the sleeps to his party. The next day, he said hopefully – it’s still my birthday? No, we said. First it’s Daddy’s birthday, then it’s Mummy’s birthday, then it’s Christmas, then it’s Felix’s birthday again. He seemed happy with that and recites it back to us sometimes. But, he said, I’m still three?

And I’ve been meaning to write about what he’s like at this age for months and months and I always think I won’t do it justice. But here is one small thing. He is startlingly good at adjectives, adverbs, and metaphors, which warms his mother’s heart. In Australia he was tipping sand off my parents deck, reeling off so many descriptions that I can’t recall them. Tumbling, floating, twinkling… The other night we were looking at a picture of a combine harvester and he was looking at the grain coming out of the spout. Like a shower! He said. Like a waterfall!

He also loves maps, which he didn’t get from me as I have no sense of direction. We discovered this half a year ago in Austria when in no time at all he was able to point out the river and the town on the map. Michael spent some time with him on the weekend showing him Norway and Germany and Britain and Switzerland, as Michael is in Switzerland this week. Then he showed him the road to the barnehage, pointing out the points of interest on the way. As we drove there a couple of days ago, Felix said – there’s the cranes! Like on the map!

He really is generally pretty adorable, with of course bouts of small-person attitude thrown in. He was getting bored with stirring his porridge the other morning (I’d added too much milk so it was taking a while). If you’ve had enough, I said, you can go and play. I’d be delighted to have enough, he announced, and climbed down from his chair.