▨ Jamie McHale

Six Months

Jack and Harriet

Everyone always tells you that it goes fast. But I didn’t appreciate what this meant in practice. I remember in the first few days with Jack, I’d wake up in the early morning and put him in between my arms on the table whilst I had some breakfast. “This is my life now”, I thought. And it was, but only for a couple of weeks. In the blink of an eye we have gone from a small curled up fragile newborn baby to a chubby, kicking, gazing, looking, yelling, grasping, babbling wee guy.

Learning happens at an incredible rate. Jack does new things every day. He tweaks the noises he makes, grasps and rotates toys. Every day he practices over and over. It’s a delight to be able to teach something new. My favourite was “splash splash” in the bath for him to kick his legs. Something just for the fun of it. He did it, and then he looked for approval.

Change happens constantly. It’s sometimes been difficult to establish routines. When you think you are on top of things, then Jack’s needs change, or his mood changes, or life happens. But that is life: dealing with change.

Harriet and I have worked well trying to adapt. We’ve had to learn how to communicate better with each other. Having a baby can make things difficult, and when it’s difficult it can be relentless. We’ve had a fair few grumpy days in-between the joyful ones. But, we usually have a mutual understanding of the task, even if we work it out in different ways. Last night, tired, but before bed-time we asked “how are we going to cope with another two hours of this?” as Jack babbled and yelled. We laughed and enjoyed the shared feeling.

We now have a shared language to describe our feelings, Jack’s needs, or where we are in Jack’s routines. Some of these names and in-jokes stick, some are used for a week and then discarded. Our favourite is probably “boy in a bag?”, “sure”, as we pass a sleeping-bagged Jack over from his feed to bed, or as a signal to get him up and changed in the morning. The words describe a particular image, something we find cute, or a thing that we have noticed. We are coining words for our new small world.

Jack seems to be thriving. Like most children, his milestones aren’t exactly according to the textbook. Some things happen early, some things slightly later. He sleeps well most of the time, but can have an off few days, or currently and off week or two. One of my friends joked that a lot of parents attribute all their successes with routines purely to their parenting style, but most of the time it’s the luck of the draw. We’ve appreciated all the advice from family and friends for tools, techniques and routines to try. I think we’ve needed to experiment to find what suits both Jack and us. We are thankful that Jack seems to be a generally chilled out and happy baby. Long may it continue!

We are currently mid-way through our two month trip to Australia and New Zealand for Jack to visit his Uncles, Auntie and cousin. We were unsure if this was a mad idea, or would be valuable for us as a family. Current consensus is that it has been difficult, but ultimately worth it. I’m glad that we can make sure that Jack has links with family, even if they are on the other side of the world. This is important to both me and Harriet. He won’t remember it, but it’s part of the story that he can tell himself when he is older. For me, it’s also important to have time that is dedicated to just Jack and Harriet. There are no distractions of home or work, just the three of us enjoying each others company. This is valuable to each of us too.

So that’s six months. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year brings.

Jack and Harriet