|Our Baby Diary: Week 2
Another moderately sleepless night (Is this a contradiction in terms?) but I think we are getting better at this. Mummy can now distinguish between the different yowling sounds. There is the "I am hungry: feed me now!" wail, the "I am bored. Someone needs to entertain me" sniffly wail, and the "I need a nappy change" scream. Thank goodness, being a boy rather than a fastidious little miss, the latter are rare (This is no doubt sexist projection and gender stereotyping!). Another thing Mummy has learnt is not to sit down range without protection during a nappy change. Probably, the less said about that the better, though matters would have been helped a great deal if Daddy hadn't lost it completely laughing himself to death. Mummy now has the two men in her life well sorted out. There is the lovey-dovey smoochy (Baby) "Leo" and the Faulty Towers (Daddy) "Leo!". English is a tonal language after all.
Happy feast day baby Leo. And all the other Leos out there. Strange to be called "The Great" at a week old...
Oh dear. An absolutely horrific night. Poor baby was up until 4:30 a.m. If he keeps it up, this diary is going to be dreadfully monotonous. The good part is we have an endless number of friends offering advice on how to calm restless babies. Apparently, a friend of a friend still lies to his 6 or 7 year old children that "mummy needs to return a video". At midnight. Five minutes in the car around the ring road and everyone is asleep and ready for bed. Unfortunately, middle of the night trips out with the pushchair have been vetoed, lest the baby proves too tempting for the insomniac kleptomaniac academics prowling the streets in this city.
The various baby books (we have read them all) are providing much entertainment on this subject. Should we go for "tough love": leave them alone to scream their heads off? Coddled babies never acquire the autonomy to explore their world and become confident adults. Or "supportive affirmation"? Never let them feel abandoned. Only by starting in the sure knowledge of their parents love will children have the self-confidence to explore their world and become confident adults.
The nasty option generally is much more fun. Unfortunately, we seem to have evolved to be emotionally manipulated by our babies, and babies designed to twirl us around their nobbly wrinkled fingers in turn. There is no fighting genetic determinism, not if Daddy pretends to be an evolutionary biologist. It looks like Mummy and Daddy will continue to get up in the middle of the night
Thinking about what an efficient feeding machine the baby is. He takes a couple of deep breathes and then plunges onto his mother's breast. Anyone who has seen a scrum engage will know what this is like. Mummy managed to have steamed fish at the same time as feeding the baby, provoking Daddy to point out that apparently kissing is derived from mothers chewing up their food and passing it onto their weaning bairns. Surely this is nonsense or urban myth. Now we have to find someone knowledgeable to put Daddy in his place (in a metaphoric Moses basket of swaddling ignorance). This will be a short entry today because both parents were too exhausted even to finish their dinner. Some baby habits must be catching!
Went out to a pub with Baby for the first time for lunch: a birthday celebration for his granddad. Now why can't he sleep as happily when he is not in the car. This is becoming a Jekyll and Hyde story (like the baby transformation scene at the end of the Incredibles).
Daddy came out of the bathroom to find Mummy curled over laughing in tears as a huge hydrological disaster zone slowly seeped out around the hiccupping baby into the mattress. Sometimes laughter seems the only response and if that makes our neighbours doubt our sanity, so be it. Found an appropriately serendipitous biblical quotation from Habakkuk: "...the surging of mighty waters and my body trembles, my lips quiver at the sound". Actually baby Leo was not crying because he was wetting the bed. Babies are quite shameless. He just wanted seconds.
The midwife assured us that hiccups bother parents more than the baby. Well, our baby wails when his hiccups don't go away, and I don't blame him either. So what is the remedy? Feeding him more provides immediate relief but they return as soon as he is sated. A quick Google search provided an undergraduate refresher on phrenic/vagal nerves, spasms of the diaphragm and what have you, but the list of possible causes of hiccups is as scary as the medical encyclopedia in Three Men in a Boat. One traditional remedy from the grandparents is to feed the baby a teaspoon of water to break the cycle. Unfortunately, our midwife had mentioned in passing that we should never ever give the baby water. On the face of it, this was plainly ridiculous advice, so much so that we let it pass without comment. Now, however, we are too wimpy to give this a try lest our baby suddenly turn purple or sprout wings (the midwife didn't actually say what would happen, but unspecified "bad things" should only be limited to the more fecund imagination of either of the parents.)
There is one consolation: the Googled record for hiccups is 57 years. By that time surely baby Leo will no longer be our responsibility.
Babies are such loud sleepers it is a wonder that they don't wake themselves up all the time. Not that they snore of course. Nothing so innocuous. It is the ever changing collection of random sniffling, snuffling, groans and wheezes, the occasional wild sneeze followed by a few hurrumps.
Our midwife had told us that babies are extremely perverse (on this matter as well as everything else). They will sleep through a noisy disco and startle awake in the dead silence of night. We had initially taken this very much to heart and Mummy was determined to put the baby through a properly educational programme of daytime listening while he was sleeping. Nothing too challenging, mind you, for his developing mind. Just the average person's course of counterpoint (mainly Bach, some polyphony) and folk melodies (medieval Spanish). His parents may be ignorant clods, but by Jove, the baby will know how to groove.
Alas, we have become increasingly timid as the days have passed, and increasingly traumatized by sleepless nights. Which is perfectly ridiculous, of course, because if there is one thing baby does not have a problem with, is sleeping through the day. Moses' baskets are wonderful for navigator the Nile (or narrow staircases) but why on earth do they have to creak so. Thank goodness, the usual response is just half an open eye just to check that all is well before he falls back into his rackety rhythm of baby dreams. What do babies dream of? Swimming or Kung Fu kicks? That is the real question. All this reminds me of CS Forester's story of reporters being shown around the Western Front. When they finally worked up the nerve to ask The General how far away the Germans were, he told them 50 miles. "So why are we whispering?", they asked. "Don't know about you. I have got a cold." was the reply.
I wonder what babies really think about baby talk. Do they really find it ridiculous? Apparently (or is this more urban myth?), babies find repeated words in baby talk easier to parse than normal speech. This is as least as convincing as evidence that newly born (Welsh) babies, as a matter of taste, prefer their parents to converse in Cymraeg than Saesneg. We are going to try to keep up our oochy-goochy talk for at least 15 or 16 years, just long enough to embarrass the poor kid in front of all his friends.
One of Mummy's relatives has been wondering just how long we will be able to keep this diary up. Until tomorrow of course and no further. Isn't it strange how a few random thoughts on the first day should still be meandering on a week later? It is a curious mirror of the baby's progress. The pregnancy was supposed to be a sharp sprint over 9 months (This is looking back. At the time, even the night of the birth seemed endless.), which thankfully Mummy came through with flying colours. What we never noticed is when this turned into a cross-country slog with the finish line 21 years away, if we are likely. It is just as well that splishing and splashing in the mud is so much fun.
Baby had a good day today, most probably because he is now officially a person in the UK, or probably, depending on whether one is a Guardian reader, a subject of Her Britannic Majesty the Queen. There was some last minute fretting before the registration as apparently neither of the parents knew what profession they were in. My parents will remember my one great ambition throughout my teenage year to be a "social parasite", a well-defined and distinguished category when I was growing up. Alas, this would not do.
Anyway, it was almost enough for us to break out the champagne, or at least the cava. Unfortunately, Mummy will not be able to drink until the baby is weaned. Actually, the midwife did say the baby would not mind the odd tipple. This is especially as babies all over the British Empire and the US have been brought up for over a century on "gripe water" which is a good 8% alcohol. I guess it does make sense in a bizarre way that alcohol is fine but water is lethal. That is the problem with being first-time parents. Everything sounds so plausible.
We are taking advantage of the temporary lull and turning in early tonight. Fingers crossed. Mummy's parents are going back to Spain tomorrow and leave us to the tender mercies of Baby by ourselves.
This site was last updated 02/16/04