Off my face on hormones, I rode trains up and down the country with my baby, and roughshod over our golden chance to do nothing together. As she slept, I hunched over boxes. As she lay across my body, feeding, I soothed my bleeping phone with my fingers – ‘PROPERTY ALERT!’ it wailed insistently.
Our house was sold. I cried with relief that there would be no more viewings to dementedly tidy for, no more awkwardly kicking the breast pump under the sofa or hiding a damp nappy under the cat. And relief that soon my girl and I would relax again. Then our purchase fell through. We got back on the trains.
Oh yes, it was exciting at the start. A happy plan fuelled by a kind of nesting instinct gone wild. But, woah, the effort it took in the end. For months I was rheumy eyed and batshit crazy from exhaustion, with the jumpy fast-twitch reflexes of an overwrought racehorse.
We're here now, though, by the sea. Have been since my daughter was nine months old. And we love it. But the thing is, I missed her. She never left my side, in fact she barely left my arms, but while I poured over surveys, smiled weakly at estate agents and went quietly loopy from overload, I missed her.
In my odd postnatal explosion of activity, I forgot to pay attention. What I should have been doing was quietly watching, because something ephemeral and wonderful was happening in front of me; my daughter was being five, six, seven, eight months old for the first and last time. And I still miss it now.