Having survived the first weeks of parenthood, I kind of can't believe I made it. I had no conception of how demanding and relentless it would be. I've also never wanted to claw my eyes out or scream at the top of my lungs quite so often; then again, I've never felt as blissful.
With the emotional rollercoaster going on in my head and all of the insane physical stuff my body's gone through (from pregnancy to delivery to milk-producing cow), it's probably not surprising that I still can't quite come to grips with everything that's happened. But thankfully, things are getting easier and I guess I'm starting to get back to real life - what's real for me now, that is.
It's not like you hit the six-week mark and everything suddenly becomes perfect (no, I'm not sleeping eight hours a night and my inability to exercise hasn't magically given me a belly I'd like to flaunt on a beach at any point in the near future), but I do feel much more in tune with my body, my baby and my mental state, and the crying fit that drove me to despair a couple of weeks before now just feels like a manageable hassle.
Of course, the six-week mark isn't only significant in terms of my own personal achievements (making it through the day without crying, showers re-entering the daily routine, leaving the house), but also because of my baby's. Diana's early skill set - eating and excreting, interspersed with staring, sobbing and sleeping - has now evolved to include quite a few impressive tricks.
From a total lack of interest in objects, she now grabs the octopus tentacle on her underwater-themed baby gym, or she'll paw at the little teddy bears dangling off her vibrating chair. And, for no apparent reason, she even pulled my glasses off my face the other day (perhaps she prefers me without?) Whereas initially, she would kind of lay on her back disinterestedly, she'll now try and do sit-ups to move herself (at least one of us is attempting some ab work). She also went from being unable to focus her eyes on anything to looking at and recognising me, and then giving me that most cherished of newborn tricks: the smile.
Diana already knows how to work the system, however, so the smile won't just be tossed out at random. Often, it comes when I'm at my most haggard, sleep-deprived and on the edge of a breakdown because she's decided she needs to suckle for four hours straight or the dog has acquired yet another ailment requiring veterinary intervention. That's when she'll decide I need a break, and the chubby cheeks will crumple into a smile. Sometimes, when she thinks I need a little extra, she'll give me an enormous toothless grin, complete with squinting, beaming eyes. It's my favourite thing in the world, and it feels like pure pleasure (unfortunately, these moments are so fleeting that no matter how many attempts I've made at capturing the really big, amazing smile, I never quite get it for posterity).
Little Diana has even learned to smile when she's doing a not-so-wonderful trick: peeing on both of us as I attempt to change her nappy. Not going to bother getting that on film, although I acknowledge it's a very impressive accomplishment.