Honestly it was a relief to get out of bed, even at 4am, because bed was so hot that sleep said "Ha ha, surely you jest!" while the fan droned ineffectually on through the long, dark hours and all I could think was, "When is it time to get up?" (Actually I thought one or two other things, mostly about Melbourne weather and weeks on end of heat and humidity, but those thoughts are not suitable to be shared in polite conversation). On the flip side, there never was a better time to escape to the cool mountain air.
It was a four-day visit with Madeleine's grandparents and, even though they were wonderfully well-prepared for us with a cot, a car seat, multitudinous toys and even a supply of nappies, packing Madeleine's bags still felt like stocking up for the apocalypse. She took the early rise in her stride, laughing with glee as she crawled, commando-style, around the floors of the Qantas lounge at 5am; and entertaining fellow passengers with a very charming rendition of "bouncing not crying" once the plane took off.
Once in the mountains, Madeleine had more Nan and Pa kisses than she will ever be able to count, even if she grows up to become a mathematical genius (which admittedly is not particularly likely, given her genetic heritage). She had at least two baths a day because, unlike us, Nan and Pa actually have a big bath in their home. For Madeleine this was a splashy paradise. Baths were also popular with us because Madeleine has become quite a fan of custard... in her mouth, in her hair, over her hands, feet, arms, legs and anywhere else you can think of to dribble, flick, toss or smear a sticky, eggy substance.
The weekend was mild and verdant, full of apple pies and old-fashioned roses and a giant pumpkin from Mum's garden. There were gentle walks up winding country roads; mountain ranges still and silent and old, just over there; picnics; a fairy garden; country cafes; an old dog wearing a Cone of Shame; and dear friends visiting for food and gossip and wine and table tennis and croquet and laughter.
My dad dug out some old papers that he had never read himself, and we discovered records of our family going back to the 1650s, all in one tiny village in England. So then we Google Street-viewed the village and it is adorable - farms and thatched cottages and Iron Age archaeological sites and all - and I got itchy feet.
Madeleine has discovered how to make a kissing sound, and the only thing she loves more than making the sound is having it reciprocated (same goes for the also-popular eating sound, raspberry sound and tom-tom drumming action). Yesterday morning Mr B reached over to kiss me and suddenly a big baby-head appeared millimetres from ours, making a "kiss, kiss, kiss" sound, accompanied by a massive grin.
My baby was so full of joy and love the whole weekend. It was so wonderful to watch her begin to form a real relationship with her Nan and Pa. She liked them so much that Mr B and I were able to go out for coffee each morning, just us, which is something we hadn't done since she was born. It felt strange and free and lonely and lovely.
This parenting gig is so extreme, and working around a baby's need for sleep and food - as well as the same baby's desperate need to be close to her parents every. single. second - can feel incredibly limiting when it comes to doing anything for us. Not to mention it is colossally exhausting. But I don't think I have known a happier time in my life than the days and weeks and months since Madeleine was born.