Where Have You Been?

For regular readers, you may have noticed a little gap in my posting. That was down to the small matter of having given birth and then spent the last few months trying to figure out the communication clues of a tiny person, as well as napping whenever possible. After 11 weeks we have gained a few hours in sleep, and some sense of a routine (sort of), so I thought I’d have a go at posting something new.

As if the arrival of a small human being weren’t enough, we are also about to embark on a 6 month round-the-world trip. Hey, at least I’ll have something to blog about. I figured a weekly update of my thoughts on naps and nappies wouldn’t exactly make for gripping reading.

Can you tell what it is yet? Colour-coding of your baby is apparently not optional.

I’m also coming to terms with the challenge of writing – so far the complete lack of it, apart from a few notes here and there. Any other mums out there that have managed to get back on course? It seems a far-flung destination right now. Perhaps the fleeting moments are what will have to constitute writing time now, and I might be able to grab the odd evening to mould the resulting words into some sort of sense.

For now, I’m reflecting on our recent trip to France for Christmas, and how it doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence regarding our imminent departure.

If the amount of crap we lugged back on the Eurostar is anything to go by, we are going to struggle with packing for a long trip. The baby was strapped on my chest under my coat, changing bag on one shoulder, ski boot bag on the other shoulder (extra heavy as it had been stuffed with clothes and nappies), and a backpack. Asking for The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton perhaps wasn’t such a great idea – that hugs book, along with four ‘P’tit Loup’ books, a ‘Green Parenting’ book and various sound-producing volumes hardly made for comfortable shoulders.

The odd snuffle under my chin confirmed that all was well with her; if only the same could be said for her dad. He was grappling with a ski bag stuffed full of, well, skis, along with baby clothes and any assorted presents that could be squeezed into available spaces. On his back was a badminton bag containing a full pack of biodegradable nappies (which we didn’t even open), more clothes, more books, more presents.

Thanks for your gendered baby changing room, Eurostar.

The suitcase was a rock on wheels. Even the kind official who offered to help me lift it was baffled by its weight. He opted for the ramp, rather than picking it up himself. Apparently the lure of a new baby and a first Christmas will overcome any parental pleas for no presents.

These are the times I miss having a car. While it would usually be considered defunct in London, on this occasion it would certainly have been helpful. An interchange at Kings Cross, the tube, a bus, all these things conspired to drain what was left of my festive spirit. Luckily, we had an invitation for New Year, so despite the daunting prospect of another train journey, we dumped as much as possible, gathered a smaller set of bags (champagne the only significant weight) and set off.

After 11 days away from home, many trains, an optimistic notebook shoved in the bag before we left, what are my conclusions? That my words, like my days, centre around her. Each day brings a change, as if with each spreading of her arms she is pulling herself into a new shape. That her interactions with the world changed so much, in such a short time. That if we are going to make it out of the flat, never mind as far as the other side of the world without serious muscle strain, we are going to have to stick to packing lists.

Who knows where this new episode will take me in my writing and my experiences? I hope you’ll keep reading to find out.

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I'm a writer, teacher and drummer based in London. Short fiction and reviews are my main staples, along with some dabbling in novel writing.

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