Given the macabre nature of my recurring pregnancy nightmare, it's perhaps understandable that i was somewhat apprehensive about the birth and bonding process.
Happily, my fears were unfounded. When Lily was placed into my arms at 10.56 am on August 7th 2010 i was struck dumb by her beauty, and in that split second that she fixed me with her calm gaze, i fell head over heels in love with her. She was (and still is) an exquisitely pretty baby, with a peaches and cream complexion, rosebud lips and huge blue eyes.
Of course, every Mother things that their baby is beautiful, and i thought i was biased, until shortly after the birth, we had a health check from a universally feared midwife, whose brisk manner, and almost aggressive lack of sentiment had earned her the nickname Cruella De Vil.
"Baby Miller?!" she barked as she marched in.
"Yes" I whispered, feeling slightly terrified.
"Any problems feeding her?"
"Are your stitches hurting?"
"Just a bit."
She rummaged around in her pocket and placed a couple of paracetomol on the bedside cabinet before marching over to Lily's crib. I watched in amazement as her hatchet face broke into a huge smile of admiration. She stroked Lily's cheek tenderly as she cooed "Well now, aren't you a beautiful girl? One of the prettiest i've ever seen."
I swelled with pride like a bantam hen.
I recounted the incident to one of the other midwives who would have looked less amazed had i told her that the old tyrant had run into my room naked and performed the Dance Of The Seven Veils.
"She never comments on the babies!"
As i write this, Lily is crawling sideways across the floor, tongue clenched between her teeth and a look of ferocious determination on her face. She is trying to attract the disdainful attentions of the stable cat, whose twitching tail is a constant source of fascination. So far, Rosie has maintained a lofty indifference to Lily's relentless endeavours to detach the tail from the rest of her body.
We are going to have to start moving breakable objects "up a level". At the moment, most of our crockery is stored on a floor to ceiling open shelf, and Lily spends a lot of her time gazing longingly at my beloved Cath Kidston Sprig Flower Tea Set. One of her favourite time is re-distributing the contents of the dishwashers cutlery tray all over the kitchen floor. She is also rather partial to opening Jasper's "filing cabinet" (a kitchen drawer messily stuffed with documents) and decorating the floor with paperwork...
I have just made another batch of food for her. The freezer is bursting at the seams with nutritious organic meals, frozen in ice cube trays and stored in neatly labelled tupperware boxes. I have a Cookathon about every six weeks. For 2 days my cooker is working almost constantly, while i peel, dice, chop, cook and puree a vast assortment of vegetables and simmer the tenderest cuts of meat. The Waitrose bill that precedes these cooking sessions is huge, but far more economical long term, than buying ready made. It's also very satisfying to watch her obvious enjoyment as she chomps her way through a bowl of something that i have made myself.
He latest menu includes Boeuf Bourgignonne, Lamb HotPot, Chicken and Leek Pie, Cheesy Vegetable bake, Moussaka, Pork and Apple Casserole and Lentil Soup (which she loves to eat with buttered wholemeal soldiers).
The last time she stayed the night at the In-Law's house, Granny commented on her refined palate (Monkfish Lyonaisse with creamed spinach, and snacks of olives, sundried tomatos and little chunks of parmesan.
One of her favourites at the moment is a lightly boiled Bantam egg with Asparagus soldiers. Her little face lights up as i peel the top off the egg to reveal the runny yolk. More often than not, she needs a bath afterwards as she is quite literally covered in egg, but it's worth every minute just to see her excitement as she grabs the first piece of asparagus and plunges it into the egg.
On the other hand, i have made a rod for my own back - we were having lunch at my In-Laws recently when i realised i had forgotten to bring her lunch. My sister in law rustled up some beans, pasta and cheese. Lily took one mouthful, and pulled a face of such scandalized disgust, that i found myself driving home to collect a portion of mini salmon skewers, which she received with an expression as much to say "I should think so too! Beans and pasta? Ugh!"
Tor, my Sister-In-Law thought the whole thing was hilarious, commenting that Lily thought that beans were "slumming it".....