People who say ‘there’s no such thing as a bad baby’ have never met my son. Oh, okay, no baby is ‘bad’, but the experience of having to raise them can be so bad that you are put off having other children for life. Max was absolutely destined to be an only child.
It took me ten painful weeks to get him to breastfeed. I had to give it everything I had. Hours and hours spent wearing a dent in the brown leather couch while my newborn mewed at the breast and I felt like mewing right along with him. Mewing or mooing, either felt right. At that stage, that brown leather couch was an extension of me far more than my baby was.
He wouldn’t sleep either. The two things are related, of course – a poor feeder is never a good sleeper – but add sleep deprivation on top of couch integration and I was a dead mum walking. Still, the operative word there was ‘mum’, so walk I did. Up and down the hall, around and around the streets, walking, always walking, yet still those big eyes stared at me.
And the crying. Oh dear god, the crying. When Max started up you knew it was six o’clock and when he finished it was past 9 o’clock. Every night from 3 to 10 weeks old, that’s what my sweet little newborn would do. Crying to block out the exhaustion of the day and there was me in agreement – the day had sucked and I was crying right alongside him.
It’s the trifecta of parenting – poor feeder followed by poor sleeper followed by incessant crier. They won’t sleep because they’re hungry, they won’t settle because they won’t sleep. They won’t eat because of very complicated reasons that nobody understands and nobody can really help you with. The whole food thing is a big deal in babyland, let me tell you. You’ve gotta get the food right.
It’s a nightmare. Or at least it would be if you ever got a minute’s sleep yourself. As it is, you just have to settle for daymares. The nightmares you have when you’re wide awake and wishing you were anywhere but here.
Like I said, destined to be an only child.
Then I found myself unexpectedly expecting when Max was about eight months old. Turns out that breastfeeding is not a form of contraception. It’s really, really not. The midwife laughed when I told her that’s what I thought. “That old wives tale,” she snorted. “It’s a husband’s tale, I tell you.”
Arabella fed like an angel the minute she was born. I knew we were going to be okay. Efficient, sated, calm, asleep – that was my little second-newborn. She restored my faith in babydom and I revelled in her squishy, milky, squidgy newborn phase, despite the fact that I had a wide-awake eighteen month old running with the wolves beside me. Breastfeeding may not be a contraception, but believing that it is was the best mistake I ever made.
After the romance that was baby Cappers, of course, there would be a third and the merry cycle of the newborn started all over again. Each baby a new beginning, each with its own way of going about being a newborn. Who are we to know?
Bottle-fed was number three; we didn’t get there at all, despite weeks and weeks of trying. As I expressed milk in the dead of cold night after night, my grumpy little Badoo wide-awake beside me, that familiar dent in the brown leather couch still fitted me like a glove. No more babies, I promised myself as the expressing pump wheezed and sucked. These babies are destined to be only children. Every single one of them. Destined, I tell you.
Best wishes, sweet Christie, as you welcome baby number two. Remember the gloves. x
Bron writes a blog called Maxabella loves… It’s a little bit about her family (those pesky three newborns grew up to be rather ‘spirited’ children who Bron calls her tsunamis), it’s a little bit about her husband (who is annoyingly wonderful) and a lot about her general perplexities with the world. The world is a baffling place.