Our Baby Diary: Week 6



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Daddy was late to work today because he had to help Mummy and Baby out of the bath today. Baby of course was a perfect gentleman, and did no more than paddle happily in the water with Mummy. No accidents whatsoever. Totally unlike Daddy's experience with him. This is par for the course. Sometimes Mummy will hand Baby over and tell Daddy to just let Baby curl up his legs and cuddle up under Daddy's chin. He always falls asleep straight away in this position with Mummy. Needless-to-say, nine times out of ten, Baby will start screaming at Daddy. The only way Daddy can get Baby to stay calm, if not fall asleep, is to sit him facing the other way on Daddy's lap. Why is that? Mummy tells Daddy not to feel jealous: Daddy will be able to re-read these pages with a wry smile after Baby grows up and they leave Mummy at home to share "manly" activities (i.e. all the things Daddy has never done in his life) like car shows, mud wrestling or football matches. Daddy knows better. Baby will be always be his Mummy’s boy. [Weeping and gnashing of teeth in the background.]

We are still waiting for Baby's first unambiguous smile. You may well ask why Mummy and Daddy are so bothered. The thing is we don't want a satisfied Baby at all. We want him to be toe-curlingly, gurglingly, toothily (or more accurately toothlessly!) happy. Daddy used to think that happiness was much overrated: Lots of really impressive people are really miserable, and Daddy who is a happy-go-lucky sort is precisely the opposite of impressive. That was, however, before Daddy was given the Nicomedian Ethics to read. (If one is going to get sucked up by a cult pamphlet, let it at least have the merit of antiquity!).

Daddy is fairly sure Baby gave Cathrin a beaming smile on Sunday. Baby was only four and a half weeks old and he already knew how to spot the prettiest girls. Mummy, however, was upstairs so it didn't count. Now Mummy has video evidence of Baby smiling. Unfortunately, because Daddy just so happened not to be around at the time, Daddy claims, in his curmudgeonly way, that the shot is ambiguous. This is not a contest but perhaps we shall just have to put it on the website and let you see that Mummy is right after all.


A busy evening for Mummy and Daddy because we had three guests for dinner, one of whom we had not seen since our wedding. Tim is now An Important Person in Edinburgh. It was nice to persuade him to postpone his trip back. More on that below.

It has been noticed that the new photos of Baby on the website are now captioned. We do apologize for their uninspired quality though. (If you didn't notice the captions, I wouldn't bother going through the photos again.) We did try hard but after hours of effort, we would end up with no more than, umm, "mother with child" and a fair few "baby asleep". We couldn't think of captions anyone else would find interesting because we are so wrapped up in our own private cocoon of obsession with this little bundle of joy. It is impossible for us to explain to ourselves let alone anyone else why we should want fifteen shots of Baby sleeping from different angles but we do. My apologies to those of our readers who are slowly gnawing through their own knuckles.

One of the first things Mummy learnt from the numerous baby books and magazines she has been devouring voraciously is that new parents need a bunker mentality. Forget about one’s friends and ignore the family and don’t venture outside the house. Concentrate on your own sanity.

To our surprise, part of the fun of Baby is being able to share him with friends and family, some of whom we haven’t heard from or seen in a while. So yesterday, we were happy to have our first proper dinner with guests, even if they happened to be three big, rowdy men. (Baby doesn’t mind rowdiness. He can make himself heard anywhere, anytime.)

The evening could not have turned out better. Simon, Richard and Tim took turns at baby-sitting and Baby was very well burped. Over dinner, Baby was quite happy to stay in his swing watching his strange visitors while Mummy and Daddy enjoyed themselves. The aquarium swing is definitely proving its worth. We shall be even more pleased if it fulfils its early promise as a flight simulator, just so long as everyone remembers that Baby is going to play rugby and not be an astronaut. (Sorry. Tim. The swing does not go all the way around and no, Simon, you don't get a go.)


For any would-be fathers looking for a special treat for their wives, Daddy would really recommend a professional pregnancy massage. After eight or nine months of pregnancy, no one is more deserving of a bit of pampering. Certainly, it work wonders for Mummy. That is, it would have, if Baby had not arrived just before Mummy's appointment. This evening, after a month of postponement, and now that she is not any more, Mummy finally had her pregnancy massage.

It was a really good idea for Mummy to dump Baby on Daddy for at least an hour to go out and enjoy herself. Daddy thought baby-sitting meant turning up next to the cot with a good book but Baby needed changing and then he wouldn't go back to sleep for three-quarters of an hour. Just when he was all settled in, purring away in his sleep, it was time for Daddy to get Baby into warm clothes and take him to show off to Helen, Mummy's nice masseuse. Baby definitely does not like being woken up before his time (an inherited trait no doubt) and made this clear to all our neighbours within a half-mile radius. Poor Daddy was so flustered that Baby only had one sock on under his romper suit. Both of them would have got into trouble with Mummy, but she was too busy laughing at the carnage left behind getting Baby ready. Mummy thinks Daddy is beginning to appreciate more why it takes her more than 10 minutes to get the kid out of the house (it took Daddy quite a bit longer than that).

Just when we thought we were getting used to Baby's habits, everything changes. What, you may ask, is the latest cataclysm? Well, after much diligent searching, Baby has found his hands. You may have seen an early photo on the web site with Baby sucking his (entire) fist. That was a chance encounter between hand and face. Now they have regular appointments. (We should not have mentioned gnawing through knuckles in yesterday's entry.) He is going through a (non-Freudian!) phase where everything that might fit into his mouth goes in that direction, and many things, like Daddy's arm (he sucks at it sideways like chewing on a bone), which obviously don't fit, are still worth a try.

The British Medical Journal has published a study showing that dummies reduce cot death drastically in the US. No doubt panicking parents all over the world are stuffing them into their babies mouths as we write this. Careful reading suggests that it mainly helps those at high risk of SIDS. We are less worried ourselves: Baby has done well to cut down on his smoking and drinking over the past 10 months or so. Besides, research from the University of Milan shows that dummies are bad for teeth and palate development. Americans may think they have the best orthodontics in the world, but Milan is so much more fashionable. We shall go the Italian way for the moment.


Daddy made his yummy but extremely inauthentic Spaghetti Bolognese. Hats off to Baby whose schedule compelled the dish to develop properly over an extra two hours of cooking. Daddy has finally twigged that food which requires perfect timing is not appropriate for our “flexitime”. It is, however, much easier to keep postponing eight o’clock dinner on a Saturday night than a week day. We could pretend that we were on Spanish time. 11 p.m. is a perfect civilized time for any self-respecting dońa and her signor to have their banquete.

Mummy has given up playing plain soduku. The puzzles are proving too tame by themselves and she has taken to timing herself against Daddy. Mummy is not at all competitive. She beats Daddy in the swimming pool not (only) to humiliate him but as a matter of principle. We can’t wait for the all clear at Mummy’s six-week medical check-up. Mummy will be happy to be back to hard training and Daddy can return to slow-style sudoku without any pressure (or a helpful spectator saying “that one”).

We are still organizing the reception for the baptism. One of our regulars has suggested various websites with details of entertainment at baptism receptions. They were extremely helpful and most practical, thank you very much. Yes. We had considering hiring the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment but you are right. The Royal Ballet puts on a much better show. Let us see, they could change in the kitchen if they squeeze between the refrigerator and the washing machine. The space between the dinning table, the pram and the Baby swing would make a really nice stage for, oh, at least six (really thin) ballerinas, if they didn’t move too much and kept their elbows by their sides!

Baby is definitely being frisky tonight. We think he is having tummy trouble. Daddy’s boss says that this can last for days (and nights!). Help! We shall see how much sleep we get tonight.


Finally staggered out of bed bleary-eyed at Noon.
Baby needed feeding.
Walked to Greyfriars for Baptism preparation. Returned home.
Baby needed feeding.
Walked to Greyfriars for Mass. Returned home.
Baby needed feeding.

Is there a pattern we have missed somewhere? Daddy and Mummy feel like they are extras in “Groundhog Day”.

We have a new local el supremo (English) Franciscan for our parish. Daddy is not at all sure about him, mainly because when he (i.e. Daddy) was minding his own business during the sermon (snoring quietly) with Baby balanced precariously on his lap, the celebrant suddenly decided to point out the newborn as a metaphor for something or another. (Seed? Feed? Mead? Oops. Forgot.) Poor Daddy had to stay awake for the rest of the sermon trying to keep his visual aid from bawling too much in his newly acquired fame. Mummy, though, has a soft spot for Franciscans and completely melted when he came up afterwards and started speaking to her in perfect Spanish. Show off!

Last night was rather ghastly for Mummy. Baby was feeling unsettled but he needed a nappy change between two of his regular feeds. That obviously threw his timing completely off because he woke up every hour on the hour for the rest of the night. (Imagine sleeping next to a very loud, off-pitch Swiss cuckoo clock.) At 5 a.m. in the morning when Baby was screaming, Daddy wakes up and mutters in broken English, “Is there anything I can do to help?” before falling back asleep immediately. That is the point when the temptation to reach over and strangle him (Daddy, not cute little Baby) becomes almost over-whelming. Pygmalion was (almost) right. Why can’t men be more like sea-horses?


We have had several recent comments that Baby appears to have chubbed up in his most recent photos. Actually, he had even more chins two weeks ago. Daddy has a theory that a baby’s cheeks are the juvenile equivalent of the mythical Hottentot bottom (steatopygia khoisanis). Baby gorges himself for two weeks before a Beauregarde-esque (Violet-like?) bout of elongation in the middle of the night. We were quite shocked the other day to find that Baby only has 3 inches of headroom left in his Moses basket. We remember thinking how absurd he looked in the huge basket when he first came back from the hospital. We thought we would have at least 6 months before we needed to thinking about cots and the like. Now we are not so sure. Mummy has had to cut off all the toes in his baby clothes. Frayed dungarees are definitely going to be the next in-thing for baby fashion.

We passed a rack of baby magazines today and could not help get two which had “Do MMR jabs cause autism” and “what you can eat while breast-feeding” on their covers. We knew we shouldn’t have. What little that is not ill-informed is tritely obvious in these magazines. Besides, we have already read the same stories twice in other formats. But like all the other baby junkies out there, we couldn’t help ourselves. Oh dear. Wait till Daddy’s boss finds out that all the best science is to be found in Vogue, Marie-Claire and Cosmo (Not that Daddy would know one way or other. Ahem.)

Baby has started to respond to our voices with a series of incoherent noises. This is terribly sweet but has caused some confusion in our family. Mummy is convinced this is “cooing”. We know what pigeon cooing sounds like but neither of us has encountered cooing baby outside of novels. How can one tell? Dr. Spock is utterly useless on this.

Our parents would perhaps be astonished, 21 years (give or take a few years ) after they relied on Dr. Spock (First edition 1946!), that we are still relying on the same volume. It has bulked up a little over the years. The doctor himself has been dead for a little while, but just as there always is a Wizard of Oz, so long as the “Dr. Spock Company” keeps going and revising the books, no one notices any difference.


One of the fashions that has changed over the years, as we might have mentioned, is whether babies should lie on their fronts or his backs. It used to be that babies should sleep facing down in case they should be sick at night. Then a few years ago, research suggested that the likelihood of cot-death or SIDS goes down hugely if they sleep in a supine position. Now Daddy’s Mummy has a friend who suggests that, if Baby sleeps facing down, it will make him more intelligent because his brain will have more room to grow backwards. Daddy just so happens to work in the University Anatomy Department so he sauntered over to some colleagues who one might have thought would know something about this. A few unhelpful guffaws of laughter later, Daddy was asked just how he supposed one might go about finding out one way or another. We think we shall allow Baby to keep his head to himself for a little while and we shall just let the matter drop quietly. In any case, Baby likes to sleep face down all snuggled up against Mummy. We shall earmark that as his brainy time.

We didn’t mention how much fun it was to have a dry (!) run with the Franciscan deacon who is going to be baptizing Baby. Brother Paul is scarily sharp and young (from the perspective of our hard-won maturity), but somehow still manages to look just a typical Franciscan. Perhaps it is only the sandals and beard after all. We were able to include all our favourite saints (obscure ones or not: Brother Paul is going to try and find if there is a even minor out-of-the-way St. Iolo after all), and Mummy is angling for her favourite Latin hymn which was vetoed by the priest at our wedding. (She is going to get her way at some point.)

Apparently, it is also the Irish superstition that babies are supposed to wail at the baptism as a sign of the devil leaving. Poor Brother Paul rolled his eyes when Daddy mentioned this, and said “Don’t worry, it might take a few months. So long as he wails at some point, it will be all right.” One definitely needs a sense of humour in his line of business.

[Practical note: Those of you who are coming to the baptism on Sunday, you have found the church if you see any Friar Tuck look-alikes. Friar Tuck was not actually a Franciscan (Robin Hood outranks St. Francis in the antiquity stakes) but the great saint in a piece of anachronistic daring, stole the costume from Friar Tuck (from the 1938 Hollywood version to be precise).]



This site was last updated 02/16/04