Friends would announce the birth of a new child and I along with several others would pay a visit to their homes, attend a christening, a naming, a dedication. In time I would get the chance to, delicately, carry the baby for a while, for a time never lasting more than a few minutes before handing the baby back or placing it back in its cot, or its Moses basket. I would then refocus my attention on the conversations before me.
With my child, well, there is no handing back. I would carry my child for far longer seeing as he often complains first before delving into a full blown cry when placed in his cot whilst awake. Now as natural as carrying a baby is, I must admit that to do so at length is a brand new phenomenon for me – one that I indeed cherish. I have in no time become an expert of sorts in carrying a baby or at least in carrying my baby. The key I have found is to ensure his head is always supported and not left dangling.
Separately I have come to learn that a child may be massaged, its limbs straightened out, perhaps by an elderly person who knows how to do so. This exercise, it is said, strengthens the baby’s limbs thus improving its posture. And though I have no widespread evidence to support this, African babies it is said, are often put through this ritual thus giving them an added toughness.
A lot goes through my mind while I carry my child. I try to figure out when he does cry next, what his reason for doing so is. Is it from a new discomfort or a new hunger pang? Does he need feeding? I opt to readjust his position or as often is the solution, see that he is fed and returned to quiet bliss. In this bliss, I think about his future. Or at least the future we plan for him. Would he be the first amongst others? A leader of siblings. Or will he be the only child? Would that be fair to him? Would I allow for him to choose his own path or do I influence, tacitly, all his choices so he is made in a particular mould? Does the choice of name fit his face I would wonder? And then I see him smile, gloriously, in his sleep. Does he dream already or is it just a nod to his sheer comfort?
If he dreams, of what does he dream of? I would hope that he dreams yet of a bright future. I would play a key role in turning this dream into reality and as such I think of what I do and how I spend my time. Is it fruitful? Is it bold? Could it be wiser?
Carrying my child provides for me a moment of reflection, an opportunity to plan, one I would miss if I was eager to hand him off!