Sunday, 20 September 2009

"Do you want

a hold?"
My young friend Helena brought her six week old twin girls to our knitting group yesterday. She had promised she would although I wondered if she would actually make it. We are all delighted for Helena and her husband. It took eight years for this to happen. Twins were not on the original agenda of course but, as is sometimes the way with such things, a desperate measure ended up with two instead of one.
So, Helena holds out a baby to me. I hastily sit down and take the tiny, warm bundle from her. Oh. It is a very strange feeling. I have not had children of my own. Merely holding one feels like an enormous responsibility. She has just been fed. Her sister is being fed. So, we cuddle. I hold her upright against me so she can burp if necessary. She tries very hard to hold her head up. We look at each other. At six weeks she is still learning to focus but we make eye contact of a sort. Her eyes are dark purple-plum-brown. She 'smiles'. It is probably just a burp-smile but she appears content. Her mouth is so small that my thumb looks big next to it. I can barely see her eyelashes. Her fingernails are like tiny flecks of mother-of-pearl shell. Her arms wave aimlessly.
We 'talk' to one another. I do not believe in baby talk so it is complete sentences on my part. She just gurgles and offers small vocal responses.
Eventually she gives a tiny wriggle and puts her head against my top. I wonder if she can hear or feel my heartbeat? She is quiet and still.
Helena takes her from me. I give her up reluctantly but gratefully.


Rachel Fenton said...

I love your description of her "mother of pearl" finger nails, absolutely perfect. Babies are strange things, they draw out such contradictory feelings and urges...they are both more precious and more robust than people think...and everyone says "it's nice when you can hand them back"...which it is, unless you can't, when it isn't...and it took me a while to have my daughter, four or so years, and I waited another eight to try for my son who popped along with no fuss to make a mockery of the whole baby saga...they are everything to me and have "made me", quite in contradiction to my having made them. Rarely I would like to travel to before them, but I never want an after them.

Donna Hosie said...

Good for her for getting out with twins at such an early stage.

There was a woman expecting twins in my ante-natal class. We all had our babies and would meet up every month. We never saw her again!