New mum Carla Mills shares her latest diary entry with us...the first few weeks at home with her daughter, Gracie.
As the husband proudly strides out of the hospital late the same evening, carrying baby Gracie in her car seat, I hobble behind slowly, feeling like we have stolen this baby and are sneaking out through the dimly lit corridors. Nobody has told us what to do, what she needs or asked us to sign anything. We had more instructions with our washing machine!
There ensues a slight altercation with the car seat, despite our carefully practiced efforts and I can see the sweat beads forming on the husband’s forehead. After a few minutes of confusion, finally I hear the click of success and we’re on our way. But the minute the car starts, so does the crying, and the panic sets in that we don’t know how to comfort her. My attempt at soothing words does not seem to hit the spot, and I am worried we have the only baby in the world who doesn’t love being rocked to sleep in a car.
As we get out of the car a neighbour bounds out of her house to see the new arrival, exclaiming she had noticed the car had been gone for a few hours. I now suspect that the neighbourhood watch have been keeping tabs on us more than any potential burglars, and have been tracking our movements for the last few weeks. And as we haven’t even been able to make it into the house on our own a matter of hours after the birth, I also know that the hordes of visitors are shortly about to descend.
I’m desperate to have a warm bath and fall into bed, but suspect our bundle of joy may not be up for an eight-hour snooze.
I’m desperate to have a warm bath and fall into bed, but suspect our bundle of joy may not be up for an eight-hour snooze. An unsavoury aroma suggests a nappy change might be in order, and we tackle the clean up operation together, approaching it with less than military precision.
“You hold her, I’ll get the nappy.”“I need some water. No, warm water, not cold!”“Where's all that cotton wool you bought?”“Which way do these go on?”“No, that’s not on tight enough.”
When we finally put her into her cot in our room, she cries immediately. “Oh god - she hates her bed,” I add to the wailing. “It’s going to be a long night,” the husband sighs.
The next morning we excitedly decide to give Gracie her first bath (reasoning that everyone loves a bath) only to quickly pull her out as we have found another thing she hates. The screams have probably woken the neighbours. Maybe it was too hot? Maybe too cold? Did she want baby bubbles or would relaxing bath salts have been preferred?
The next few days are a blur of feeding, nappy changing, cuddling and rocking her to sleep. The house is a tip and I can’t remember the last time we slept. I once read that sleep deprivation is an internationally recognised form of torture and can readily confirm that to be the case. Visitors pop in amongst the chaos and coo over how beautiful and good she is (and Gracie is, of course, always soundly sleeping during these visits).
The house is a tip and I can’t remember the last time we slept
Friends, family, midwives and books all remind me to “sleep when she sleeps” but this is easier said than done. I can’t sleep to order, and don’t see much point when she’ll be awake in an hour or two. Not to mention that these hours are the only chance I’ve got to take a shower, tidy up, or have something to eat. They also all remind me that she’ll settle down and it will get easier soon, though when pressed for how soon is soon, they are more vague and I hear murmurs ranging from a few weeks to around four months. Marvellous…
I bemoan her huge appetite (her mother’s) and incredible amount of wind (definitely her father’s) but when I see her cheeky smile, look into her huge blue eyes and hear her gurgle, squeak and sigh through the night, the tiredness is forgotten (well, almost). Despite how much harder this is than I had thought, I adore my baby girl, and wouldn’t change it for the world.
Packing the hospital bagThe hospital tourThe waiting gameLabour dayPram and cot shopping
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