|Our Baby Diary: Week 4
After yesterday's terse entry, meatier fare today as recompense. But first an explanation.
Yesterday, it took a very tired Mummy five hours before Baby felt like sleeping at 10:30 p.m., and he woke up every two hours through the night. Mummy is getting adept at having her dinner while balancing Baby on her other arm. Pudding was the necessarily fetching but faintly ridiculous "one spoonful of yoghurt for Daddy, one for Mummy. One for Daddy...".
Despite his histrionics, yesterday was not our most exhausting day ever and we are hardly at the end of our tether. Mummy was just very keen to have at least one day read “exhausted” and no more. An existential summary if you like. Daddy does not have such refined aesthetics (more “garbage in-garbage out” than “stream of consciousness”). Our more dedicated readers perhaps can devote some of their spare time into deconstructing the dialectic on these pages.
Mummy and Daddy don’t have time to pursue such interesting pursuits any more. (Sodoku is not a pastime but a therapeutic tool to maintain our sanity.) Taking care of babies is a steep learning curve. We don’t mean things like checking the temperature of the bath water. One can simply read up or make up: for example, the traditional “baby turns blue, too cold, baby turns red, too hot” has, at least, the merit of consistency .
It is the little things like whether to change baby before or after a feed, or trying to figure out when baby is having a nightmare (will go back to sleep) and when he is hungry (will definitely keep you up all night), what sort of cough is "normal" and what indicates bronchitis. We do hold the occasional inquest to see what we are doing right or wrong, but mostly it is trying to suss out Baby’s temperament as much as learning to do "the right thing".
On occasion, we also have to retrain our own instincts. Yesterday, for example, it took Mummy quite a few hours to persuade Baby to doze off. Walking out of the room, she spied a dropped baby sock on the floor. Being both tidy and athletic, Mummy scooped up the offending article with her foot, and pivoting around (without dribbling the sock), fired an arcing jump shot over Daddy and straight into the Moses basket where it belonged. Three points for the shooting behind the line. Zero points for not waking up a very surprised Baby in the Moses basket. Oops.
Mummy is definitely regaining her competitive athletic instincts. Yesterday, she was venting her frustration at not being able to do sit ups. Mummy wants her six-pack back. (The other diarist has never had a six pack: he claims that it doesn’t suit his complexion.) This is all a bit unfair. Having kept pace (only as an expression of solidarity with Mummy) on the way up, Daddy feels it is too much to expect him to jettison his ballast in synchrony with the appearance of Baby. Besides, Christmas is coming. Daddy suggests that Mummy not have too many mince pies, Christmas puddings and chocolates lest Baby get addicted to the sugar through his milk. However, one of us has to make sure the food doesn't go to waste and to keep his energy up. What Mummy thinks of this is, alas, not fit to print here.
Yesterday saw a visit from Mummy’s specially "bestest" friend whom she has known since college. Miss Dona is one of the super-executive nurses in the vanguard of specialist paediatric medicine in the National Health Service. To say that she knows about babies is like saying Michael Schumacher can drive cars. So it was rather nice for her to have made the trip all the way up from London just to give Mummy and Baby a treat, and Daddy a few lessons. Daddy was certainly very appreciative, and if there was a tense moment when Baby was handed over, both father and three week old son rapidly realized that we were all making a small detour from the land of the clueless.
As a rule, we do not mind who exactly does what. That is, unless it is 4 o’clock in the morning. The reader must be thinking that we must argue over whose turn it is to get up for nappy changes and the like. In fact, given Mummy’s generous disposition, this is never an issue. (In Daddy’s defence, every once in a while his guilt does rear high enough to kick him out of his usual laziness).
The only difficulties have come when poor Mummy has spent all night trying to get Baby to consider his sleep, when we are both short-tempered and all the tricks in the book have been tried and he is still wailing at the top of his voice. Then when Daddy persuades Mummy to hand Baby over just for a moment, the little brat suddenly falls into an exhausted sleep. This is extremely galling and rather disheartening for Mummy, but Daddy is hardly overcome by any great triumphalism either. We both want Baby to give us a chance to catch some sleep before the stupid birds start twittering outside. It is just really unfortunate that Baby is too stubborn to do so on Mummy’s watch. Next time it will be Daddy who gets frustrated to death.
When Baby was still in his Mummy’s tummy, we were told that other people’s babies are always more fun. After one has had enough of playing with the little prince or princess, you can hand it back to its parent who can take care of the grotty business of feeding and changing. And as for the sleepless nights, it is best that someone else have the pleasure. They couldn’t have been more mistaken. It is precisely in the nitty-gritty grottiness of our daily routine that we treasure every moment with Baby. We used to be warned against the supposed dangers of Romantic (with a capital “R”) love. Real love, apparently, isn’t only to do with feelings but about getting intimately involved with the entire life and concerns of the other person. I suppose some sentimentality had to creep into these pages but the way Mummy looks at Baby is truly heart warming.
Is poor Daddy not feeling a teeny little bit jealous? Not at all. Mummy baked him his favourite cake yesterday (his first since the birth). Mummy has Baby and Daddy will have his cake and eat it.
It is Saturday morning. There are pedestrians squirming outside in the unseasonable cold but we are warm in the house. Baby is sleeping quietly and Daddy is snoring. The sun is shining. Can life get any better?
Actually, that is a curious point. Whereas the volume of Daddy's snoring appears to rise and fall with no perceivable pattern, it is only really at night that Mummy is simultaneously assaulted by discordant cacophony from both sides. Why does a Baby who sleeps so quietly during the day, whimper, moan, groan, snuffle and let out random yells at night?
There is one matter that
occasionally crops up in what little "down time" Daddy and Mummy have together.
Many parents wonder whether their child will resemble one of his or her
progenitors more than the other. Speculation on these lines seems to give our
friends and relatives much pleasure but occupy us little. Given how different
his parents look, Baby's features are going to be a real blend anyway.
Poor Baby just had a lesson in priorities today. Normally, Daddy and Mummy are pretty much at his beck and call. If he starts crying for food, Mummy seldom puts him off for more than 30 seconds. Today though, we were watching Australia play Wales. And when the Welsh were still two points ahead with four minutes to go, Mummy was too busy cheering (hoarsely) the besieged Welsh team on. It was the right decision. What great rugby. Hopefully, even at his tender age, Baby will be inspired by Wales' first win over Australia since 1987! Mummy has changed her mind though. Baby is not going to be a prop forward but a wing. That Shane Williams has a lot to answer for.
I am sad to report a great calamity. One of the nice warm winter gloves (with little blue helicopters) has been reported missing. Daddy has scoured the nearby streets to no avail. Apart from that, all is still well. Baby has a running nose and a little spluttering cough but he has been sleeping well.
We neglected to mention another first for Baby. This is not from today but a week ago, on Sunday:
We were late for church because we had underestimated as usual how long it takes to get Baby ready. And then, after we had changed him and put him in his pushchair, all wrapped up and ready to go, he decided to demand a feed. At least, we thought, a well fed baby would be able to doze off in peace for a couple of hours.
So it was just when the priest was getting into his stride in his sermon, that Baby decided to call for attention. Without much ado, Daddy was bundled with baby to the back where wails would be less intrusive. This seemed an eminently sensible arrangement. At least one of the parents might be able to make her religious observances in relative peace. As soon as Baby started nuzzling at his T-shirt, however, Daddy realized that the wrong parent had been sent out onto the porch. Back Daddy came again, dumping the problem onto Mummy's lap.
While Daddy was fretting over what to do next: whether it would be perfectly natural or particularly profane or somewhere in-between, Mummy with the least fuss and greatest discretion began to feed Baby. One giant leap for Daddy, another irrelevance for Mummy and Baby.
No one minded the least, incredibly noisy guzzler that he is. We heard not the smallest titter even when Baby trumpeted one of his trademark unspeakables. When Mummy was going out, she was greeted with the widest smile we have ever seen on our erudite Sri Lankan Franciscan. With an impromptu blessing and parishioners cooing over Baby in English, Spanish and at least two other Asian languages, these are special occasions which more than make all Mummy’s hard work worthwhile.
Alas, our favourite Sri Lankan is leaving for another assignment. It occurs to us that, if Baby for some strange reason should want to read this when he comes of age, half the people mentioned on these pages might not be around any more. Tempus seems to fugit much faster than usual since Baby's arrival. We used to have manageable weeks, now every day seems crammed full of things, only a tenth of which we remember to record here. It will all slow down soon and we will be able to slowly wind this diary down and settle back into slow time.
A milestone for Baby: he has begun to track the world around him. To be honest, we have no idea when exactly this started happening though Mummy is convinced Baby has always been able to focus on her (alone). If you believe in "emotional intelligence quotient" (can an oxymoron have more than three terms?), Baby has clearly been super-endowed: he has never had any doubts about where Daddy stands in the local hierarchy.
We have been noticing that Baby tends to look up from our laps when we are on the sofa (i.e. different laps on separate occasions but the same sofa), even if he has to crane his neck to do so. We had always assumed it was the ceiling lights. In fact, he was admiring the bright colours in Mummy's water-colour hanging above our heads. For all you doubters, Daddy is a scientist and proved his hypothesis quite conclusively (when Mummy was upstairs) by dangling Baby in different orientations in different directions around different rooms at different times of the day. (We really mean it when we say "exhaustive testing" in science.)
Mummy is, alas, taking a temporary break from the messy work of painting, and would in any case be hard pressed to produce too many more completely distinctive and inspired paintings in the next couple of days. Instead, after some hurried consultations with our baby books, we have hung a wind up mobile above him. (Speaking of which, isn't it wonderful that centuries after the decisive victory of the Copernicans, planetary models for children are still named after a Ptolemaic celestial sphere?). The idea, unfortunately, is to not to hypnotize him into a deep sleep but to encourage him to develop eye hand coordination and start reaching out for objects. If only we could replace the annoying tinkling music inside the toy. Not that we have anything against chimes as such, but surely there must be tunes which are less repetitive, perhaps something from Praetorius with xylophones or dulcimers. Or is annoying repetition the whole point?
What else has Baby being doing today? The good part was that last night, for the first time, Baby was able to last three hours between feeding. That meant Mummy, rather blissfully, only woke up twice in the night (rather than four times). To make up for it, Baby has being giving Mummy a torrid time all evening. What Baby giveth with one hand, he taketh away with the other. Let us hope that means tonight is going to be a quiet one.
Today, Baby was a ray of sunshine in Daddy's dreary life. There was a telephone call in the middle of the afternoon and at first Daddy's colleagues were rather worried. All we heard down the line was demented laughter. It took Mummy some 10 minutes to calm down enough to explain what happened. Apparently, Baby had been particularly alert today and was peering around him when he over-balanced. Not understanding yet that our upper appendages are for precisely such emergencies, he dived head first into a ready pillow. The look of utter astonishment on his face was enough to set Mummy off. Poor chap. I think he was far less indignant about his accident than Mummy's lack of sympathy.
Oh well, Mummy is going to treat him to one of her paint class today for the first time. Painting with brush in one hand while holding baby and palette balanced precariously on easel is the least of Mummy's many talents. Mummy doesn't yet realize it but soon she is going to be leaving her classical portrait and landscape water-colours behind. In a few months, Baby is going to be much more active. Jaskson Pollock here we come.
So what else has been happening with Baby today? He has been restless all day and relentless at his feeding. It is 10 p.m. Baby is still hungry and Mummy hasn't been able to have her dinner (growing cold at the stove), or, in fact, any proper food all day. (Chunks of bread in soup while standing up doesn't count in Daddy's book). Perhaps Baby is gearing up for a growth spurt but today, he is insatiable and hyperactive.
But we don't mind at all. That is mainly because Mummy thinks Baby is gearing up to give us his first real smile. When Mummy plays with Baby, you can see just the left half of his lower lip starting to wobble into position, and his eyes begin to crinkle up. This is also exciting for Baby, and he tries at the same time to semaphone "Just look at what I can do". (We try not to let him propel himself entirely off the sofa). We don't yet know whether Baby is aiming for Mummy's shy smile or Daddy's toothy gormless grin (it is difficult to tell: Baby has no teeth). But we are convinced of one thing already. Wittgenstein is right and Chomsky doesn't know what he is talking about. This is not mimicry. He is one happy baby.
Aha. One final installment. This entry is turning out to be a relay race. Daddy finally got Baby to fall asleep (on his chest). Mummy has had her dinner and we are all going to join Baby in his slumbers. I reckon we have about three quarters of an hour if all goes well. Wish us luck tonight.
This site was last updated 02/16/04