But the last twelve weeks have been the oddest, busiest, depressing, joyful, confusing twelve weeks of my life. Because it’s the first twelve weeks i’ve ever had to care for a new baby.
Baby B has grown so fast and yet looking back to the week we brought him home is like looking back down a long winding road, through a treachourous landscape. I feel a bit like a character in a Western pausing on a hill and peering back to the far away homestead he rode away from so many nights ago. And yes i’d say i’d slept as well as if id been sleeping on my saddle.
We’ve pulled together and somehow we haven’t done anything majorly wrong. There was the time we put too many blankets on and realised to our horror that Baby B was basically being cooked in his bed. Cue wandering round the garden with him in a nappy and checking his temperature for half an hour until the electronic thermometer stopped flashing red.
We’ve tried to get into some sort of routine but not one Gina Ford would approve of. We know the books so well now that we shout things like ‘is the what Jo says or Gina?’ And then proceed to ignore all the advice and follow our instincts.
And instinct usually works. After all he’s our baby. Even writing that still sounds insane. So because he is a bit of both of us it makes sense that we can empathise and try to work out what his various shades of crying might mean.
Friends who have had babies will ask how we are getting on and are usually careful not to offer advice unless asked. I’m sure they know how annoying it is to have people telling you they know best. But the funny thing is how little they can remember from those early weeks.
It’s as if the people from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind have come along at around this time and said: ‘OK do you want to remember what it was like to give birth? No? How about the insanity of the sleepless nights? No? Sure? OK, we’ll wipe your brains.’
Perhaps this is how anyone does it more than once. Evolution has engineered our brains to forget the trauma.
Well, i’m just going to note it down in case the same thing happens to us.
After i went back to work i started sleeping in the spare room Monday to Friday after i’d done the late feed. It soon became clear that while S, although she was devastatingly tired, could at least go back to bed till mid-morning, falling asleep at work wasn’t going to be a very good idea.
For the first month B slept a lot but in short bursts and not much at night. And we both found the lack of interest from him in us by turns worrying, frustrating, and depressing. Of course you don’t expect him to say thank you for the 24 hour care but there is something very human about needing a response from another living thing. Not getting it, basically being ignored is very tough. We had started to worry that there was something wrong, some trauma from his birth that meant he wasn’t developing normally.
That seems silly now, because there then came the day, a little later than everyone said it would happen when one day he looked at S and smiled. Just once. Then he went into lockdown again for a few days. But i was desperate for my turn!
That was around seven to eight weeks. Since then he’s started to show his personality but it’s in small doses and a lot of the time he still seems happiest asleep. I think we both know how he feels.
So B is no longer the ‘woodland creature’ we brought home. But neither is he yet the classic bouncing, gurgly baby that we all tend to picture, and which all the advertising agencies use in those commercials for nappies and lotions.
But he is our little boy and we are content for now that he is at last starting to sleep for five hours in the night. It may not sound much but it makes a heck of a difference. And we have our evening’s back. It’s bath and bed by seven o clock for him. Then catching up on Mad Men (the final season, sob) and trying to talk about something other than his feeding, pooing (not very often you see), and sleeping.
Do i feel like a dad? Not yet. Not really. Even if Father’s Day is approaching. Much like the question, ‘do you feel like a grown up yet?’, i think feeling like a parent is something that grows with your child over the months and years.
S still says it feels like we’ve been given him to look after for the summer. The idea that he’s living with us till he is in his 20s is too ridiculous.
For now, he is ploughing his way into our lives. To continue that metaphor, as older parents i think the ground is a little overgrown with the life we’d sown before. But he’s strong, and it won’t be long before he’s the brightest bloom in the garden.