That, above, is my favourite line from Superman. And, if we ever get drunk together I may tell you one of my deepest secrets: I prefer Superman to Star Wars, almost entirely on the basis of that brilliantly corny line, uttered by Lois as she is saved from a tumbling death by our hero.
I’ve liked it since children were a thing people older and more mature than us did, back in the days when me and Mr Thatwoman lurched around pubs in Greenwich making up haikus and drinking from after work ‘til bedtime.
Like many things in my life (my reading habits, my tits, my handbag, my dining room) the line has been reinvented and tugged and rearranged to fit in with the new world of being a parent. Now I want to whisper it in the dark, when I gaze across and see newborn lying, having won for another night the battle of the cot, entwined somewhere between me and him and Mr Thatwoman.
On a world of insecurities I want to capture this midnight hour’s mess of limbs, this velvety cuddle and the view I have of kin entwined. It is hard to operate a phone from above and I lose his head, my husband, me on my first attempts. It is a dreadful snap, but I have caught a shadow of the magic and it will help me remember
I have to concentrate but I can see limbs, skin, eyelashes. I can hear feel the hot puffs of baby breath, little snortlets, touch a toe, hear a sigh. And yet the scene defies proper definition. I stare and stare wondering which bits are me, and which him. It feels like a metaphor of some sort, as I search through the fuzzy half-dark trying to spy my hand, which I locate, eventually, nestled between my son and my husband. The lad is touching both of us, lips pursed like a proper newborn’s.
This time the skin on skin is at his discretion and demand, not because a midwife has suggested it. Not to encourage feeding or a placenta. Our beautiful bedtime chain has only a twist of threat, we cannot move or he could scream.
I could write here, about co-sleeping, about the fact I haven’t slept for longer than 4 hours for nearly 9 months but I’ll save that for another day and share only the epiphany I had this week. I may be wrong, by letting him sleep with us, part night watchman, on guard, part tyrant, complaining if we move ourselves or try to move him. I may have messed it up, this sleeping lark (again). He may be here, between us for a while longer. But he’s not. Wrong, I mean. He can’t be wrong in preferring to sleep protected and between us. It is a preference, a desire, and it isn’t inherently wrong or bad. It may not be practical. It may not work in the long term. Eventually I need to be able to roll over and sleep that extra hour again. And it can’t be forever. We will change things, move him to a cot, to bed and teach him to be secure there. But the desire, for now, to nestle in the heart of the mattress isn’t his mistake, it is just an opinion. He just prefers things this way. And I’m not sure I blame him.
Today is 39 weeks since newborn was born, and, as he was born a week before his due date, the last moment in time where the balance of power rests with me and my protection of him.
From here on in he has more experience of being alone in the world, than being inside me. It is another re-enacting of the slice of the cord, another reminder. I feel almost sad at the milestone moment. I’m conflicted about how far we’ve come and how fast. So I’m almost looking forward to bedtime and the last minutes of today when I can look at a world, and, like when there was a great belly full of him, still feel like I don’t know who exactly has got who.