Juno is just over six months old and we travel to Russia for our first Opera tech since her birth in just under two weeks.
What does six months mean for a baby? Well, so far: tummy bug, fussy phase (to beat all previous ones), sleep regression, eczema break-out, weaning, teething, mental leap associated with object positioning, relationships and permanence and therefore separation anxiety…the list goes on. Needless to say, the poor thing has had a lot to deal with and of course none of us are sleeping well!
And what does the looming tech deadline combined with a 6 month old baby mean for me? Well, two weeks as ever only really boils down into three short 6-hour days given the bank holiday so I’m working into the evenings after she’s gone to bed as much as I can manage between running upstairs every 45 minutes to settle the whimpers and cries associated with the above list. But I’m sort of on top of it, as long as Juno is well enough for nursery these last few days.
The director, despite assurances on her decisiveness and that the list of items would be complete before rehearsals and not be added to, she is now of course doing exactly as I had predicted (and told her she would need to do from experience) by making additional requests now that rehearsals have begun. This would usually not be a problem and in fact be part of the process, however given the tight budget, endless budgetary negotiations with much sticking to principles (of refusing to conjure endless lists projection content out of no cash) and keenness of time, I am actually having to hold her to her word…for now at any rate. Once we have something for everything, I can be more open to suggestion! But necessity is aiding me to uphold my principles for once. Besides, with the company I was working with going asunder, I now find myself booking people’s flights and sorting visas as well!
The odd thing is, though, with the extended gaps between work hours, instead of running around like a headless chicken before a tech, although I am doing so to an extent in my head, the majority of my day is spent on Juno-focused activities. And boy does someone need to take maternity leave with all the things there is to do, not least the doctor’s visits (her itchy head is thankfully under control now that we have various lotions and potions and that I have limited my dairy and cut it from her diet).
More concerning is the fact that, due to her phases, I find myself once again in a state of utter sleep deprivation. Now, I’m used to finishing tech in this state (especially one in Russia) but it’s not often I go into one already at quite such a low. Still, she’s due to emerge from this phase next week so we have a week of hopefully better sleep to catch up on…as long as she pops that tooth, doesn’t succumb to another cold or stomach bug…etc etc. Just one night off would do it in fact. You’d think I would have had one in six months…probably my fault I haven’t! On the rare occasions I have slept for over 4 hours in a row, it makes such a difference to my day that it’s like waking from a dream! By now we should be having better sleep so whenever I next have a good night, I will have to get back to the (surprisingly cerebral) activity of working out what schedule will work best with Juno’s patterns and therefore result in us all sleeping. Or maybe I will be driven to the brink and that will force me into a brainwave. Either way, these plans are subsequently not so easily implemented without the clear head and energy that a good night’s sleep bring so it sometimes feels like a vicious cycle. In the back of my mind of course, I am asking myself whether I have neglected valuable routine-setting work for daytime naps and the like due to my work and other activities that take us out and about. Then again, I wouldn’t be being true to myself or her by being any other mother than what I am. I am simply not a stay-at-home type. So I suppose I must take the consequences!
On the nursery front, I suddenly had a strong feeling that I didn’t want her to go back there on the Monday so after I dropped her off I called to see if our first choice had a space become free for us yet and sure enough they did so wisely or unwisely, Juno will be moving to her new place when we get back from Russia. I have a better feeling about the place and I’m sure Juno picks up on any anxiety I have about her current nursery – however unfounded that is. The fact remains, I still leave her in tears and she’s in a similar state but more exhausted when I pick her up. After two months, you’d expect her to be a bit more settled really. This changes plans for the next show a bit but we’ll work it out. Her Dad is getting very proficient at looking after her and has even taken the odd day off to permit me to do a shoot on a non-nursery day as well as picking her up and doing bedtime. It seems a bit topsy-turvy him taking time off, given that he earns more than me but to ensure continuity in my career, it needs more kind of tending-to than his does (that is to say keeping up with emails, in with directors, attending meetings whilst technically still on leave etc – the kind of things I have been doing for the past 5 months) and he thankfully is sympathetic to this. Though I still hear her crying when she’s not there…and her latest mental development has meant she can judge distance and juxtaposition so she is aware of the fact I can walk away but as yet unable to follow.
I realise now that I haven’t written since our last trip to Russia. Well, we were very lucky: she was having a great week ion terms of mood and despite not sleeping well at all and being in my room so disturbing me more than usual, it was great fun and very successful.
She managed the flight pretty well by making friends with all the other passengers and playing with the makeshift play arch I constructed on the back of the seta in front of us; I sussed out the hotel who have ow kindly bought a bath (they otherwise only have showers in the building), the nappies (she gets along with russki huggies and I can read what size she needs), the creative team (mostly female) adore her and she them, she still sits surprisingly calmly during long technical meetings and she just about survives the cold! Of course, I managed to sort the all-important contracts and technical items too. So not such a foolish endeavour.
After all, what can go wrong if she’s with me and I am with her going out into the world on an adventure? And so on to the next one!
As a parting side note, I’m conscious that any reader may wonder how I find time to write this. Well, the 10 minute segments I get of her naps that are not spent sleeping / washing / eating / clearing up don’t exactly permit creative thought to any great level but bit by bit, I can add the odd note or paragraph here and sometimes over the course of a few weeks it builds up to an entry that I and then read through and edit one evening. I think it’s worth doing ‘in the moment’ too or I will have forgotten what this period was like, all-consumed by the next!