We’ve given birth to a Homer Simpson clone, a being that can eat for days without stopping. Like Homer, he grunts with the effort of devouring his milk. He can even drink when he is asleep. If you pull a bottle out of his mouth, his mouth continues the suckling motion, sucking on air, just like a fish trying to breathe out of water. No sooner have we finished one feed and looking to put Zane down for a sleep and wash some bottles, he is kicking his arms and legs about for more. If a breast or bottle comes within range, the little man starts groaning, his heading bobbing frantically about, his lips and tongue trying to get a grip on whatever might provide some milk. Two boobs are just not enough for the boy.
One evening I thought of a theme song for Zane, lyrics to the tune of the 10CC’s I'm Not In Love:
It’s not enough, so don't forget it
It's just a growing phase I'm going through
And just because I throw some up
Don't get me wrong, you’ve got more milk to make
It’s not enough, no-no
I’ve given serious thought to installing a milk tank on the side of his cot, with a tube feeding into a modified dummy to keep him constantly supplied. And perhaps I can have a milking machine hooked up to Jas as she sleeps to keep the milk tank topped up, though I do have a vague sensation that Jas wouldn’t be up for this. No harm in asking though...from a distance.
With all the milk he is guzzling, he’s growing fast. He is constantly changing, leaving more of his newborn skin behind every day. The other day I awoke, looked at him and thought: “He looks just like Zane but with much bigger cheeks!” He’s developed a greater range of expressions, with smiling now in his facial repertoire, although he does “smile” when he farts, so we’re never quite sure if he is enjoying our presence or is trying to push something out. He also often looks like he’s surprised, his lips pursed as though he is trying to whistle, or trying to do an impression of a cat’s bum.
Zane has also become much more active. He wriggles. He does baby yoga, stretching his legs out straight and then lifting them together, in parallel, and holding them up, poised, as though he is showing off. The most entertaining is when he is on his back and frantically flapping his arms and legs about, sometimes so crazily it’s as though he is trying to fly. He pants as he flaps, his eyes wide, in the expectation of lift-off. If he did happen to have wings, unfortunately his portly Buddha-belly would keep him well and truly grounded; an overweight penguin would have a much higher chance of becoming airborne.
Babies are born with cute little button noses for a reason. If Zane had a sizeable snout, with the number of times he has uncontrollably head-butted my chest, it would have been broken more times than Steve Waugh’s kitchen window.
Some nights I wake thinking I’m in an old creaky house, as though someone is sneaking about, stepping on century-old floorboards. It’s the little man, groaning in his sleep. Sometimes it becomes a rattled snort, a bit like a Jurassic Park raptor; in extreme cases he sounds like the pod-racers from Star Wars.
We’re still trying to understand what Zane is trying to “say” to us, with his multi-tonal, multi-volume crying, though sometimes it becomes startlingly obvious. After one feed he began bawling and Jas was struggling to work out his issue. Bum clean? Check. Warm? Check. Not tired? Check. She put her forehead gently against Zane’s and asked, “What’s wrong?” He promptly opened wide, took Jas’ nose into his mouth, and vigorously sucked. Ok: he was still hungry.
One evening Jas and I walked into the room when Zane should have been sleeping. As we opened the door we noticed he was awake, his hands clasped to his chest, and had been looking at the spot where we stood, waiting for us to come in. He just looked at us, with a serious where-have you-two-been? expression, as though he had been waiting silently for some time for us to come in and attend to him. We cracked up at the look on this face...and then so did he! It was as though he was just messing with us. He can’t quite belly laugh yet, but his face scrunched up in a noiseless laugh and his arms flapped joyfully about.
Dads will do funny, even slightly embarrassing, things to keep their little offspring settled and entertained. Things such as putting their grizzly bub into a baby carrier and walking the streets for two hours in the evening in an effort to lull baby to sleep, quietly singing 80’s ballads, as people make their way home from work. Or doing slow-motion star jumps in front of the baby as they sit in their bouncer. Or having their kid on their lap while they do inventive things with stuffed toys for amusement, such as humming the Mission Impossible tune and having the toy re-enact Tom Cruises’ face-down abseil/freefall towards the little one’s face. I’m not saying that I’ve done these things, of course; I’m just merely speculating....
I think Zane will be a roller-coaster kind of guy. He’ll go to sleep in the pram if the ride is rough. Perhaps it’s like being in the womb when mum walks. If I am trying to settle him, I need to find a potholed path to travel over.
Babies get away with anything. We were on the train with Zane, in a crowded carriage full of London commuters, and unfortunately he’d had enough of the day and started screaming. Thinking he was hungry, I signalled for Jas to throw me a bottle to try and becalm the little chap. He duly emptied the bottle, and as he did so, commuters stole little glances at him - something different on their journey home. Then I sat him up to burp him; as I patted his back, there seemed to be a tense expectation in the carriage. Pat, pat, pat. Seconds passed interminably, everyone waiting. And then it came, cracking the silence. Now, normally if one was to belch on a busy London train, many would shoot glances of disapproval at the perpetrator; however, when little Zane let one rip, several passengers audibly sighed in relief. One chap quietly said “Good one!” in admiration.
Can anyone else but babies be introduced to friendly neighbours and get away with promptly belching and then bringing up a little lunch? Our neighbours have been marvellous with the arrival of Zane and been keen to meet him, and Zane has enjoyed their company. But on one occasion he didn’t seem to be in the mood, unfortunately responding to an introduction with a burp and a follow through.
During a spurt of pre-summer sunshine, I had to nip down to Mothercare to buy Zane a hat. There weren’t many options: only pink ones or white lacy ones. The white one was least feminine, but it wouldn’t be a good look. It was a difficult choice: have him wear something girly or not have him sun-safe. I went with the former of course; he won’t remember!