And then we all got sick(er)

Being unwell with a baby is a bit like going on a long-haul flight with a baby. It was horrible even without the baby, but with the baby it just becomes exponentially more difficult and arduous, and yes, there really is no way off the plane, and no one to pass the baby to. (Save for each other, for small reprieves.) Only being sick is worse because you have no indication of when you will arrive.

We are starting to wonder if we will ever be well again. We all have colds. Felix keeps getting knocked about by successive bouts of fever. And to cap it all off I contracted a seriously painful and unpleasant ear infection last weekend.

Today while I waited till I could take Felix to the doctor (I was scared he’d caught the infection from me) I put some music on and rocked him in the ergo and he slept fitfully. And I thought – it is ok. I am here with my child. It is ok.

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Books

In between things I have been reading. Over Christmas I read Philip Pullman’s Four Tales, which was a Christmas present from my Grandma. It is a collection of four novella size stories that Pullman defines as fairy tales, and it was most enjoyable. I particularly liked ‘I was a Rat!’ and the spooky, Germanic tale ‘All Wound Up’. I also read Penni Russon‘s Only Ever Always, which was lovely and haunting, a strange and delicate exploration of death and loss, love and choices.

Right now I’m on a bit of a Kate Grenville binge. Mum gave me Sarah Thornhill for Christmas. I started it just before I left Australia, but it was a big heavy hardback so I left it behind. I then couldn’t bear to be parted with it, so I bought it on the kindle app for the ipad. All Grenville’s books are on there, which is a bit unusual for an Australian writer – the main problem I have with the kindle store is that there is not enough Australian content. Although I wasn’t quite as impressed with it as I had been with A Secret River, which I thought was utterly amazing, I liked it so much that when I finished it I immediately bought The Lieutenant, which so far is very promising indeed.

All in all I love reading books on the ipad – what’s not to love about books that appear magically in your bed within seconds, glow in the dark and don’t wake the baby?

A little birthday party

Today some close friends came over and we had a little birthday party for Felix. Good friends are so precious. In this photo you can also see: Felix’s lion, which was a hand-me-down from a very lovely lady in Idaho Falls, who has a son a couple of years older than Felix (Felix adores this lion, so my cake was an attempt to approximate it); the curtains my Grandma gave us; the coffee cups and milk jug my Nanna gave us for our wedding; tulips which reminded me of the ones you can see here; a vase which was a birthday present from the barnehage; a delicious cheesecake made by my lovely Norwegian friend; a colourful bowl that my parents gave me when I moved to York; a candle holder that Michael acquired many many years ago, long before I met him; and the gorgeous cardigan that my Mum knitted for me while we were in Australia, shortly after these photos were taken. So although we are a long way away from our families, we were pretty much surrounded by love. And Felix seemed to like the cake.

The little guy had a good time playing with his birthday presents and his new friend Pearce.

In the background in this one you can see the walker that we spied in a shop in Adelaide, but Michael’s parents bought for Felix in Germany. It was a happy day. Surrounded by love, indeed.

The week you turned one

You fed yourself porridge, spoonful by heaped spoonful.

The sun shone on our little house and we were happy inside it.

The tracks I made pulling you on a little sled around the tree stayed there all week.

You watched schnappi with your father.

You patted the cat, and chased him around the house, and squealed with glee every time you saw him. (Sorry that Mermos just looks like a black blob – it’s really hard to get a picture of him. It’s even harder to get a picture of Felix and Whitby together because every time Whitby hears Felix make a sound, he’s out of there.)

You slept in your pram.

You walked up and down our living room, clutching your new walker. You stood by yourself with your hands in the air and a grin on your face. You had your first full days in barnehage, which just about broke my heart. You really liked it until you were smitten with a nasty cold. You held up your lion blanky and whispered ‘raaa!’ You pointed to the sheep in you books and said ‘baa!’ You pointed out the doors, and exclaiming ‘door!’ everywhere you went. The image of you crawling up to a new doorway and peering around the corner is one I never want to forget. You looked very sweet in your new winter wardrobe. (And yes, that’s the green jumper I knitted. I am so pleased with it.) You woke me up many times, every night. But I adore you.

One Year

things don’t recur precisely, on the sacred earth: they rhyme

Les Murray, ‘The Idyll Wheel’

There was snow today, but not as much as last year. It was cold, but not as cold. The sky that filled the bare trees was pink as the sun rose and orange as it set.

This day last year, I baked brownies, I waited, I walked through the snow, I visited friends, I waited, I went to bed. I would not have long to wait.

Today, I baked an orange and blueberry cake, I made a lentil shepherds pie to eat for dinner today and tomorrow, for I return to work tomorrow, I knitted, I finished writing a paper, I walked through the snow, a friend visited me, I tucked my very nearly one year old son into bed.

Returning to Norway this past week has felt like the right thing to do. It has been strange, overlaying last year with this year. Being suddenly back here, at just this time, I feel the memories in my body. My body feels narrow and strong, because last year it was stretched and heavy. Small things bring moments back – walking along the cobbled main street, bending over to blow-dry my hair (something only a Norwegian winter can induce me to do), the warm, woody smell of our bedroom.

Things do not recur precisely. But a world with a Felix in it is a better world indeed.

Back

Landing in Oslo and the beautiful snowy drive down here was awesome, and we were so very glad to be back. But after enthusiastically exploring all the corners we let him reach of our little house, Felix was not himself, and sat on the floor, screeching. We contemplated joining him. Arriving home to a cold house (not as cold as it could have been, as our neighbour turned the heaters up for us yesterday, but still…), with an almost one year old in tow, after being away for eight months, is not exactly easy. Especially when Norway arranges a cold snap for us and our winter clothes seem to have got lost in the post. But we’ve cranked up the heating even more, the baby is asleep, and it is slowly, slowly beginning to feel like home.

The house is the same, but we have changed. When we left, Felix was a little baby – we would perch him in his bouncer or lay him on the floor, and he took up no space at all. Now he is a little tractor, roaming everywhere, making his opinions known. We need to reshape the space for this new us. It is the heat, slowly taking hold in the air and the wooden walls, that lets me know we’ll be ok. It starts to smell like it did a year ago, when we kept the house oh so warm indeed. And I would wake in the night and carry tiny Felix out to the change table, and he would squirm and fuss as I maneuvered him out of his miniature sleeping suit. No, more precisely a year ago, I hadn’t met him yet, and it was just my taut, uncomfortable belly I was lugging around, as my due date arrived with nothing to show for it. February. Month of beginnings.

On the way

Well, we’ve left. We’ve made it to LA. I am so, so grateful we have two nights here before flying onto Norway. Felix did pretty well on the plane and slept for more than half the trip. There were several spare seats so due to Michael’s forward planning we managed to sneak the car-seat on, which made all the difference. It would have been uncomfortable for both of us if Felix had had to sleep on my lap all the way – he’s such a big little guy now! I’m also glad I’m still breastfeeding, it really helped to keep him happy. Everyone on the flight was pretty impressed with him; someone told me ‘ your baby was divine!’ He had a fabulous time exploring Sydney airport before the flight, and entertained everyone by crawling around everywhere and climbing on the baggage trolleys. As we disembarked in LA, he said ‘bye bye’ to all the passengers. I’m still pretty wrecked, but we have a day to recover before the final legs (LA – New York, New York – Oslo). And the longest flight is over already, hurrah.