Let’s start at 5am. Not because it’s the start of the day. There is no start to your day. There is no end. It’s just one long, never-ending, mind-melting continuum of time from the minute you come home from the hospital until…. dunno, I’ll let you know when I get there.
You’ve been sleeping for 40 glorious minutes when you are woken by the bleating of your baby in the bassinet next to you. You swear you fed her about 15 seconds ago. You’re pretty sure your left eyeball is bleeding because when your eyes are open non-stop for three weeks, they start to crack and peel from exposure to the elements.
You stick your baby on your boob while you sit up in bed. It used to hurt like a bitch but your nipples are now completely numb because the incessant feeding has toughened them into a pair of nice leather coasters. Your nipples are now like the soles of Tarzan’s feet. You could climb a palm tree with those boobs.
You try really hard not to fall asleep on the baby. You drift off for a few seconds and wake in terror, swinging your arms wildly trying to find the baby, panicking you’ve just suffocated her with your obscene boobs.
You locate the baby who is still attached to your boob and breathe a sigh of relief because you are a wonderful mum who will never sleep with your baby in the bed because it’s so dangerous. Close your eyes for two seconds.
Wake up 90 minutes later.
WHERE’S THE BABY!? Oh. Right there. Still on your boob, sound asleep and sucking away at what now looks like an empty plastic bag. Meanwhile, your other boob is a boulder that is leaking milk all down your pyjama pants.
Try to pull the baby off your footy sock boob. i.e. unleash the beast.
6.45 – 7.30am
Rocking, shushing, patting, bouncing, walking, singing, begging, pleading, cajoling, crying (both of you)….
Finally put baby down in bassinet and creep out in a special kind of sideways ninja crab manoeuvre so the baby can’t sense the shift in atmospheric pressure as you depart. Carefully pull the door shut, so slowly you’re not sure it’s actually moving, but don’t make a sound because despite all the books saying newborns love a bit of background noise, you apparently have the only baby in existence who wakes to the sound of dust mites munching their way through the bed sheets.
Shuffle silently towards the shower and step under the sweet, sweet relief of scalding hot water.
Immediately turn shower off because you hear the baby cry.
Nope, false alarm. Turn the shower back on. WAIT! That’s totally a baby crying…. nope, still no cry, STOP! Now I definitely hear it. Nup, nothing there.
Continue this excruciating game until the hot water runs out and you have wasted half of naptime. And you didn’t even get to wash your hair.
Consider popping on a pair of jeans and a nice top but before you realise what’s happening you’ve donned a clean pair of pyjamas. It’s for the best.
Creep back to check on the baby who looks like a sleeping angel.
Feel your heart swell with love and pride, right as the baby lets rip with a gut-churning fart.
Her little eyes snap open and her arms and legs shoot out in fright.
Dissolve into fits of hysterical, delirious laughter because watching a baby wake herself up with her own fart is the funniest thing you’ve ever seen. Then burst into tears because the baby is now awake and pissed.
Try to wrestle hysterical child onto your boob. She comes at you with a gnashing mouth and wild eyes and you have a brief moment of horror because it looks like something out of Alien is about to devour your chest.
Flop onto the couch and let her fall asleep on the boob even though you know you’re not supposed to do that because it’s a sleep crutch and she’ll need to be fed to sleep until she’s 15 years old and you’ll never get a full night’s sleep again and she’ll probably become a sociopath but you figure you can break the habit some other day. Right now you just want to sit and enjoy the silence.
Look lovingly at your baby and notice her scalp is moving. HOLY SHIT.
Google: “pulsating fontanelle”
All is ok. Perfectly normal.
Close your eyes for ten minutes and then feel guilty because surely you’re supposed to be gazing lovingly into your baby’s eyes, or lying on the floor for tummy time, or reading Shakespeare and listening to Chopin because you’ve read that you need to provide an enriching and stimulating environment for your little snowflake or condemn them to a life of mediocrity and disappointment.
Google: “fine motor skills activities for newborns”
Discover your three week old still doesn’t know how to pick things up and realise you are a complete failure. Open a therapy bank account in your baby’s name. Wonder how often she’ll talk about you in her sessions….
Lay baby down so you can have a stimulating chat. Realise you have nothing to say. But that’s ok because it seems she’s perfectly content to stare at the ceiling fan. Feel slightly rejected but relieved she’s happy for now.
Enjoy the brief silence before the air is ripped open by a guttural symphony that sounds and smells like a blocked sewer bursting open. Marvel at how unconcerned the baby seems to be sitting in a pool of her own scum.
Pick up the baby only to discover that pool of scum is EVERYWHERE. Curse the nappy for not doing its job. Curse the outfit for being so white. Curse mother nature for only giving you two hands. It’s surely a flaw in the design.
Disinfect kitchen sink.
Google: “washed baby’s arse in kitchen sink + baby poo + food preparation areas + infection risk”
Baby has been asleep for 20 whole minutes. Switch on kettle. Baby wakes immediately. Wonder if she has a special spidey sense for “mummy is relaxing”. Make mental note to mark this achievement in her as yet unopened baby book (SPOILER ALERT: you’ll never remember)
Feed her again.
You’ve spent forty minutes trying to put baby back down for a sleep. She is screaming so hard she stops breathing a few times. Scream back at baby to BREATHE GODDAMN YOU! Acknowledge that may have been a step too far. Recognise you’re up against a master of manipulation. Accept defeat.
Start tearing house apart, looking for the dummy your Aunty Meg bought you for your baby shower. You didn’t want it. Nipple confusion, teeth issues etc. But you’re starting to think it couldn’t hurt for a couple of weeks, right? So long as you only let her use it when she’s really upset. And never, ever in public. If no one ever sees it, it’s like it never happened, right?
Tear open the pack and stick it right in her mouth. Then realise you didn’t sterilise it and frantically pull it back out, but it’s too late. You’ve infected her for sure. And now she’s screaming even harder. Run the dummy under hot water with one hand while jiggling screaming baby with the other and try to reason with yourself that babies in rural Afghanistan don’t get sterilised dummies. Ignore the small voice telling you that babies in rural Afghanistan also die.
Google: “unsterilized dummy”
Google: “nipple confusion”
Google: “breaking the dummy habit”
Google: “babies in rural Afghanistan”
Baby is asleep. Finally make yourself some breakfast. Hello Nutella on toast. You’ll have time for nutritionally sound meals soon. Right?
Pick up a book. Read the first page eight times. Still have no idea what it’s about. Decide you’d really rather watch TV.
Before you sit down, you decide to check on the baby. She’s very quiet and very still. You’re not entirely sure she’s breathing so you dangle precariously over her face, trying to hear her breathe. Consider getting a mirror to hold in front of her nose.
A piece of your hair falls and smacks her right in the face. Because even your hair hates you and wants you to die a grim, painful, sleep-deprived death.
Consider going for a walk in the fresh air.
Spend an hour packing, preparing, double-checking and dressing.
Go to push pram out the front door at the exact moment she shits herself, her clothes and the pram bassinet. Burst into tears and decide you’d really rather watch TV anyway.
2.30pm – 6.30pm
Sit on couch. Feed baby. Watch TV. Repeat.
Take hundreds of cute photos of baby on phone so you can send to the grandparents and tell them all how marvellously you’re coping.
Daddy comes home. Hand child over and go and hide in the pantry so you can eat biscuits in silence while he bathes the baby. Feel slightly pissed off that the baby is happy and quiet for daddy.
Google: “how to tell if your baby hates you”
7.30pm – 10.30pm
Feed baby. Try to put her down for bedtime but realise you could spend two hours settling her in a dark room or you could just hold her on your chest while you sit next to your husband, having “us time” which is actually just sitting silently next to each other watching TV and trying not to fall asleep.
10.30pm – 5am
Crawl into bed and “go to sleep” which is code for “have a series of short, barely useful naps in between feeds and nappy changes in the dark while husband snores blissfully beside you”.
Stay tuned for the next edition: 24 hours with a newborn and a toddler