Friday, September 9, 2011

552 - Fussy Baby

I hum under my breath to my new daughter, who stretches herself and fusses.  Her toes are well healed up, from when the Haian separated them, they cannot be hurting her.  She is full fed, she is clean, she is dry.  Why will she not sleep?

The activity of my son coming home diverted her for a time but she is too young to more than gaze at pretty lights and now she is wiggling once more.  If she begins to cry I shall have to resume my carrying her through the halls of the Marble Palace.  I find I am not well trained to be a mother.  I wish to be, but my only other child was taken away from me and the world pretended I had never given birth.

2nd Amitzas cut me open on our wedding night, as if I were a virgin.  Tesha wiggles harder.  I am very tired.  She has refused to sleep at night for several days now.  My father suggests he make a tincture for her, but Mahid baby tinctures are rather… too much for Mahid now.  But I do not know what would be acceptable for the new Mahid.

It looks as though the Assembly will approve the new Mahid, with all the caveats and controls on them. It will be interesting to have the Mahid quarters full of people once more.  Tesha squawks and fights her fists clear of her blanket… she has removed her baby gloves and her socks again.  I should have a nurse for her, but I find myself reluctant to give her up to someone else.

“Here, mother,” my son says, as we begin to go downstairs.  “May I hold her?”  He looks tired but I give him his sister and he quite expertly sets her against his shoulder and begins patting her on her back as we go.  I like that.  It is a good image.  She quiets, and lies with her cheek against him, not even opening her eyes when she burps, loudly enough to make my son’s loves… even Kyriala… a very proper girl… laugh.

I follow behind with her tiny hands and feet coverings balled together in one fist.  If no one objects, so late at night, I will not disturb her to insist that she wear them.  Fessas have baby sleeping outfits with integral hands and feet, I have seen them, being sold in the markets.  Perhaps I shall aquire one or two of those… for late at night when no one will see anyway.

I allow myself a tired smile.  “Not too hard, Minis,” Gannara cautions him.  “She’ll blow milk all over your back.”

“I think she’s fine, Gan.”

And she is.  She is sleeping by the time we are down to my son’s rooms, and he gives Tesha back to me.  I am so tired I can smile at him, easily.  He startles a little but none of this wakes the baby.  “Ili is asleep, I’m assuming,” he says.  I nod.

“Thank you, my son.  She wouldn’t sleep.”

“Mother…”  He is taller than I am, I realize.  “I understand you wish to do this yourself, but you don’t have your own mother or sisters to help you, as most women do.  Perhaps you could inquire for some help?”

“I was considering that.”

“Good.  I am happy that Kaita was able to come back to Ili.  Perhaps a friend of hers would be amenable to helping you.”

“Thank you.”  I have already considered it, and in fact Kyriala and I have been discussing possible women.  It is odd to have non-Mahid acquaintances... even, dare I call them...friends.  I find that I like sitting and being with them.  I even like sitting with the girls who would be a Mahid faib team.  They are energetic and now that they are training regularly, with Ilesias cheering them on, for he never misses a practice, they are somehow more alive.

He nods to me, good night, and he and Gannara and Farasha… and Kyriala?  Her too?  They all enter his rooms.  Of course they are only going to see him settled.

I hold my sleeping Tesha snuggly against me and go down to my much neglected bed.  The baby goes peacefully into her cradle, with a bubbly lip smacking noise.  My rooms have changed so much.  There are colourful things all around the hanging cradle, that moves gently from my putting Tesha into it.  The women in the Liren household, I find very restful and it was Kyriala’s great aunt who made the silver and white lace cradle skirt.  It is beautiful. The points trail gracefully, slowly, as the rocking stills.  Just like traditional Aitzas babies instead of the grey and ugly Mahid crèche.

I lie down with my head on my hand, lying on my side, looking at my baby.  My baby.  My little girl.  Ili and that pet of his play with her all the time… or at least come and play where she can lie and stare at them.

That pet of his… sometimes I wonder if the Gods made it to help with baby care.  Sometimes it is there with a half ten of things held for me in his tentacles… I have even dreamed of being a human version of a domestic octopus, wishing for more limbs, though the number of gloves I should need would be scandalous.

I cannot sleep even though I am idiotically tired.  I must be, to be thinking such things.  My feathers… my stones, my bright pillows have been joined by a glass vase made by Joras, a glittery silver thing with black flecks deep in the glass.  It looks as though it is a flower itself, growing.  I placed a single bright red bloom in it and it… looks astonishing.  It feeds my spirit somehow.

Narilla says that spirits need feeding.  I imagine her mask in the dark room.  I should sleep.  Do I have some kind of art in me that being Mahid maimed?  I do not know.  Is motherhood an art?  It cannot be, surely.

And yet.  I wonder, as the milky, powdery smell of clean baby drifts into my nose and I look into her blue eyes, like lapis, shot through with light grey.  I still am enamored of my girl, even when she smells and howls and fights me putting her mittens on.  Even when she covers me with filth of various sorts.

Thank the Goddess for the fountains and the cascades and the Lesser Baths.  A fussy baby is almost instantly soothed by being allowed to play with warm water.  I take a fussy, smelly baby to the baths and I am tired and cranky myself and want nothing to do with her.

Then what happens?  She opens her eyes to me and smiles a toothless smile and I am lost.  It is a kind of Selestialis.  Narilla agrees.

I should sleep.  It is odd.  I allowed myself one more pillow on my bed.  My mattress is the correct firmness, prescribed by the Mahid women’s household instruction.  But then I allowed another, softer one, during my pregnancy. 

Akminchaer prescribed a light wool blanket for my room being so deep in the Marble Palace -- so damp and cold -- and I chose one that is a very bright red.  I am moving so far away from what Mahid was… I do not know if I am doing wrong.

My room is full of yawn now.  The baby yawns in her sleep and my eyes flicker open to check that she is all right and then my heavy eyelids drift closed again when I realize she is all right.  What will Mahid become, if I allow such softness?  If I am commanded to allow such softness?  Selinae save us. Who knows?


  1. I love Inensa. What a difficult journey she must be on, to finally be allowed to feel love...

  2. She is all at sea, like many new moms, with the Mahid complications of course.