I am an extremely proud, if a little disorganised, mother. I remember the madness and the tiredness of the first few months, when she looked like a scrawny rat in a white jumpsuit and did nothing but sleep and mew.
I remember crying because I loved her so much and crying because she wouldn't stop crying. I also remember crying and apologising to my mother for being dreadful and difficult over the years. It was all rather emotional. We had a lovely summer together in Italy with my mother.
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The weather was hot and languid and Allegra and I did nothing at all but get to know each other. They were months of treasured moments; the first smile, first giggles and the first time she managed to get both her feet in her mouth at the same time. There was my first topless flight you try breastfeeding at 30, ft. My first full night's sleep. My first hour-long telephone call to NHS Direct about the cough. Who would have thought that throat clearing was that anxiety-inducing, or that complicated?
And yet, there was still a shadow: We were told that, although she appeared to be fine at birth, they still wanted to make sure that she did not have skeletal dysplasia.
It was the one dark cloud on an otherwise sunny horizon. A mother's love is usually blind, but I was obsessively vigilant to every little quirk. As Allegra lay in the shade of a fig tree, I would check that her arms were the right length, and look to see if her legs were a little short.
The closer we got to the appointment, the more certain I became that they were going to find fault somewhere. She was at the bottom end of the growth charts; she was nearly six months old but still wearing clothes for a three- month-old. I was already deaf with nerves. They undressed and dressed her and repeated the whole process. Allegra grinned away; I think she rather enjoyed the attention. There was much mumbled conversation and huddling together. They said she had flat fingernails - something that even I hadn't noticed - but that, otherwise, she was fine. She was absolutely in proportion, and they couldn't find a thing wrong with her.
Less Attractive and I were stunned.
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And all they could do was smile, shrug and say that these things happen sometimes. They said they didn't need to see us again. With the joy of hindsight, I can't help thinking that maybe I didn't actually need all that medical intervention. I got pregnant naturally. My Wishlist. Know about stores.
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