Lily will be One Year old on the 7th of August.
The first year has passed so quickly - it's incredible that the tiny 81b 1oz bundle that i cradled in my arms for the first time almost a year ago, has morphed into this blonde hair, rambunctious whirlwind of energy, who, as i speak, is tearing across the kitchen like a whirling dervish in her stroller. Her favourite game at the moment is to walk backwards, like an athlete before they launch themselves at the high jump, and then propel herself forwards building up as much speed as possible before ramming into a solid object (wall,cupboards,dresser,my ankles) and chortling with glee.
The new mummy nerves that threatened to overwhelm me at times during the first few months of her life, have thankfully diminished. Once i realised that i was not going to drop her on her head, and that the stable cat was not conspiring to access her nursery and smother her to death, i began to relax, tentatively at first, and then with increasing confidence. That said, i still occasionally skulk into the nursery in the silent watches of the night and shine a torch in her face to make sure that she a) hasn't expired and b) that her existence is real, and that she isn't a solipsistic figment of my imagination.
My midnight wanderings are invariably prompted by a recurring dream, in which I decide to take Lily to London to see the sights. We have a marvellous time, taking in the changing of the guards, gazing in wonder at the masterpieces in The National Gallery, and feeding the ducks in St James Park.
During our homeward bound bus journey to Waterloo Station, Lily falls asleep, and i eat a Krispy Kreme Donut and gaze happily at her cherubic sleeping face. Out of the window, dusk brims the shadows in Green Park and the leaves turn red gold in the setting sun....
Several hours later i am relaxing in a Jo Malone scented bath and telling my Husband, Jasper, what a lovely day we had. I am in the middle of telling him about our visit to madame Tussauds, when he suddenly asks "Where is Lily now?", and i realise with a plummenting sense of horror that i left her on the Bus.
Chaos ensues, with Jasper roaring at me for being so "useless and irresponsible", and i try to resist the urge to swoon with sheer terror, whilst scrabbling to find the telephone. After countless mis-dials, engaged tones and wrong numbers, i finally get through to a Police Officer and manage to tell him, through my sobs that "I left my Baby on the bus to waterloo"
There is a pause while he digests this news, before replying in an utterly indifferent voice "Well that was a stupid thing to do - she could be anywhere in the world by now." Then he hangs up.
I wake up at this point, heart hammering in my chest, before groping for the torch beneath our bed and tottering off to the nursery.
I am assured that such nightmares are perfectly normal - the psyches way of processing the enormous weight of responsibility that Motherhood brings.
When i was pregnant i was haunted by a similar nightmare - I am lying a in a birthing pool in a dimly lit hospital room in the final throes of Labour. I am feeling calm and serene; my birthing plan is going smoothly and i am overwhelmed with excited anticipation. With a final push, my baby is born! I lean forward, beaming with joy, desperate to hold her in my arms. The midwives exchange grim looks and peer gingerly into the pool. Suddenly, the surface ripples, and a demonic dwarf rises slowly from the depths, like a monstrous parody of Boticelli's venus. Its maleveolent black eyes blaze in its shrunken skull and the ensuing horrified silence is broken only by the rasp of its breath through sputum flecked lips.
Water drips from its straggly shoulder length hair as it leans towards me, close enough to smell its putrid breath.
I am about to pass out, when, with a terrifying rictus grin, it hisses at me "Ha ha! You thought i was a baby!" before it leaps, cackling, out of the pool and in a staggering display of superhuman agility, hurls itself through the windo in a shower of glass. Once outside, it flips over onto its back like a crab and scuttles grotesquely over the brow of the hill, never to be seen again....