My darling, delicious, delightful baby girl has a less appealing alter-ego: Demon Child.
Unless you have the misfortune of being related to us, being in our home post-7pm or being Karen (the remarkable nanny who looked after my husband and his three brothers and who we are now lucky enough to have twice a week helping with the girls), you probably won't meet DC.
In public, with me, Liv is a pleasure. Smiling, giggling, interacting, playing, eating, suckling and generally enjoying herself. Of course, she often cries, but it's nothing out of the ordinary. The issue - hunger, boredom, a dirty nappy - is usually quickly resolved and she is beaming again.
In fact, she smiles far more than Diana - aka possibly the world's easiest infant - did as a baby. My husband is convinced this is because she's desperately vying for attention while we're busy chasing after Diana or having our umpteenth wardrobe dispute about how much jewellery is appropriate to wear at 7am. Diana as a baby didn't have this kind of competition.
In private, with me, Liv is also often a pleasure. While it's flattering to have such a charming stalker, unfortunately, this also means she mostly despises everyone else and freaks out whenever I attempt to leave the room. Her new signature move is sobbing inconsolably every time she sees her grandfather, even when I'm there, because she assumes his presence signals that she is about to be dumped (more often than not, she's right).
The thing is, whenever Liv gets enraged (which happens pretty often, since she mostly doesn't sleep and is overtired), the demon emerges. It's hard to describe how blood-curdling her screams are (think of a wounded animal getting its limbs pulled out one by one), or the fear and panic it provokes in whoever is unlucky enough to be on babysitting duty.
People have tried food, cuddles, car rides, pram pushes - you name it. Bottles are rejected in a fury, and for a while, the screams had gotten so scary and glass-shattering (in the car, no less, which is usually where restless babies find some solace), that I was convinced she had colic. But then as soon as she'd see my face, the shrieks would subside and something approaching a smile would appear.
So this appears to be a personality-related thing.
As Karen, who has known Liv's father as a child (and has therefore seen this all before), says: "There's nothing wrong with her. She just has a temper. And we know who she gets it from."
Unfortunately, the feeling of triumph at hearing (knowing?) that my personality is less offensive than my husband's is not enough to rectify this situation. It's exhausting, scary and frustrating, especially since we've reached a stage where Liv can't be left with anyone except a licensed professional, and she is probably going to make that person's hour/day/evening a complete nightmare.
My recent birthday meal lasted approximately 30 minutes, since the stress of leaving Liv with someone other than me was more anxiety-inducing than having her on my boob in the restaurant (which, for me, is also anxiety-inducing).
Even though my child can be demonic, I still love her to bits of course. That's the beauty (or is it delusion?) of motherhood. And while this has been going on for months now, there is always the fantasy that it will get better, she will get used to other people, she will stop howling like a monster. I'm slowly starting to leave her more often (the longer I feed her attachment issues, the worse they'll get), but I'm still struggling.
Of course, one of the issues is that Diana was, I now realise, practically no work at all at this stage, so this experience is entirely new to me. She was instantly enamoured of strangers, took to the bottle straightaway, slept anywhere and everywhere... you get the picture.
At the time, I was clueless so spent my time complaining of sleep deprivation and exhaustion. If someone had told me then what I know now...
On one of my brave days, I left Liv for an hour-and-a-half with my father-in-law to go to a meeting of new parents at D's nursery, which she'll be starting in the autumn. When my husband and I came home, the house looked like a tornado had blown through it and all of the windows and doors were locked shut (which was bizarre because it was about a thousand degrees, super humid and we have no air-con).
"She shrieked so loudly the entire time that I thought the neighbours were going to call the police on me," Liv's ever-so-slightly rattled (and it takes a lot - this man has seven children) grandfather said.
After remarking that Liv is more difficult than any of his seven children (Karen, who ran a childminding service at one point and has looked after dozens of kids, also feels my daughter is the trickiest she's encountered), Liv's grandfather shrugged his shoulders and said:
"With a personality like that, she's either going to be a serial killer or prime minister."