Night fever By Tara Mills
When I was preggo I knew that night feeds would be part and parcel of having a new baby. Of course. I mean I didnt come down with yesterday’s rainfall. However I just didnt realise how consuming and how often it would happen.
I mean I wasnt expecting William to sleep 13 hours straight a night from coming home from the hospital, no no no. But I was living in some rose-tinted hopeful fairy-land that he would be one of those so called “good babies”, you know the ones from my previous post who apparently sleep through the night when they are half a day old.
Obviously he wasnt. As is any normal baby. But nothing really PREPARES you for the whole night feeding thing, you assume your going to be tired and that you will just “sleep when they sleep” during the day. Well let me tell you;
- That is very hard to do, especially when hubby or partner goes back to work and you have all the house chores to do. On your own. With this little thing there watching your every move. Crying and wanting your 100% attention, no less.
- Sometimes, your baby only sleeps for a very short period of time in the day, so you cant actually realistically get anything done even if you wanted to. I mean who can put 3 loads of washing away in 25 minutes?
- When you first have your baby, sleeping through the daytime is impossible because every tom, dick, harry and their cousins-first-sister’s-dogs-uncle-twice-removed wants to come and see you (well, really they want to see the baby but they also have to see you while they are at it) so even if you wanted to catch 40 winks, you cant as you have to play hostess while your there smelling of baby sick with bags the size of China and 7 day old greasy hair.
So you’re there, lying in bed, all cosy and wrapped in your duvet, finally able to sleep on your stomach after 9 months of doing some kind of yoga pose (crouching hidden moon dog??) just to be comfortable, when you hear a murmour from the moses basket beside you. You peek down, trying not to make eye contact. Surely not..he only went to sleep 20 minutes ago..he cant be waking up already? You decide to leave him, he might be dreaming. But, nope, sure as anything, he starts whimpering and slowly starts to cry. All manner of thoughts cross your mind. Here’s some of my regular thought processes before doing a night feed:
How can he not be tired? I am so tired!! If i’m tired, surely he must be too? (he then proceeds to yawn loudly, as if to rub salt in your already gaping stinging wound, litte twat). How can he still be hungry? Surely he cant be? He only had a bottle so-and-so time ago..surely he cant still be hungry? Maybe he’s hungry because he was sick and he’s had a massive shit..but surely not THAT hungry..maybe he’s thirsty? Can i give him water? Maybe he wants his nappy changing again. But i only changed him an hour ago..surely he cant want his nappy changing again..what has he got in there? Maybe he just wants a cuddle? But if i pick him up am i “making a rod for my own back”?
And so on and so forth. Basically you spend 10 minutes asking yourself rhetorical questions which you will never know the answer to unless you actually get up and go see if he wants changing/feeding/winding etc, all the while your baby is slowly crying louder and louder and going more and more red in the face and looking like a vine ripened tomato with legs and arms in a 2.5 tog sleeping bag.
So you get up, while your darling husband/partner/boyfriend/whoever lays there blissfully oblivious, snoring away in slumberland. That is, until you kick them in the shin/slam the door/slam the bottle on the side/place said crying baby in the bed right next to his ear/chunter and moan “ILL FUCKING DO IT THEN” under your breath (at the top of your lungs)/other miscellaneous loud and disturbing action to make sure that the bloody prat wakes up, because if YOU’RE awake then damnit HE’S going to be awake too. Even if there is no use for him, you’re sure as hell not going to be awake at this ungodly hour on your own.
So there you are, this crying little baby at 2.17am (or some other ridiculous time) and your going through the same routine for the hundredth time. Change the nappy. (why do the worst, biggest, foulest shits always happen on a night time? When lighting is at a minimum? Like, hello???? I need to see the creases of skin in order to get all the mustard shit out of them.) Make sure baby is warm/cool enough. Wind the baby. See if the baby wants feeding. Clean up any spew. Change clothes after said spew is found in baby’s hair/eye/ear/all down front. And so on and so forth.
Now, some people say “ooh, make sure you cherish those moments, they wont last forever, soon they wont need you anymore” etc etc. Yes, I understand this point. And yes, its probably true, when William is 4 or 5 and a little independant dude, he wont need his Mama as much, and I’ll probably look back and think “oh, i miss him being small and dependant on me, i should of listened to all those people” while watching him outside playing on his bike while I cry into a cup of tea comfort eating a Terry’s chocolate orange or 5. But let me tell you, at the time, your not thinking about the future. Well, you are. Your thinking that in about 45 minutes time you will (hopefully) be back asleep. Until the next feed. And the whole chunter/kick spouse/ask questions/cry saga starts again.
The truth is, babies need lots of milk. Be it booby milk or formula, they are little eating machines and in the first few weeks they need to have lots and lots of milk to grow properly. I mean let’s face it they have gone from being fed whenever they wanted and whenever they didn’t want it for 9 months, every different type of cuisine on the planet, to being outside their cosy little cocoon and not having an endless supply of food/nutrients. Like when I say they need lots of milk, I mean they need LOTS OF MILK. Little and often. Like every bloody hour or 2. So be prepared to kiss goodbye to sleep, because you can bet your bottom dollar that they will wake every hour or so through the night wanting more of the milky goodness. William is 4 months and still wakes for 2 feeds at about 2am and 6am. (But then again he’s a right Bruce Bogtrotter little greedy urchin. He’d drink a pint of bloody Aptamil if we put it in front of him with a side of pork scratchings.)
Also as I said before be aware that for some unknown and obscure reason babies always seem to want to go for the biggest rankest cacks in the night time. And because they are in your room in their little moses basket/crib etc the easiest option is to change them on your bed. So be prepared for your boudoir, your place of solice and tranquillity to smell like plop plop of the most toxic kind. You’ll walk in throughout the day and wonder if you’ve left a dirty nappy in there. You won’t have. It will just have a lingering smell of baby shit and puke. Soz.
While your lying there waiting for your husband to wake up and possibly, maybe, you sleep and him do the night feeds (it won’t happen often- just so we are all aware) you will lie there probably seething more and more. Why won’t the little knob just sleep? You eventually get up and go through the whole wind/cuddle/change/feed cycle, feeling majorly pissed off with your little human and cursing them and wishing they would go back to sleep. Then they do the worst thing ever. They smile at you. Or they grab your finger. Or gaze into your eyes with so much love and contentment that you’re there with them and no one else, that it touches you deep in your soul, and you start to feel guilty. Like, really guilty. Especially because you’ve just called them a little bastard while wiping piss off your dressing gown. So then you start to cry (through sheer exhaustion and being delirious but also through that bloody mum guilt) and convince yourself and your baby that your sorry you shouted and you hoped they would enjoy their milk and shower them with kisses and cuddles and try to make yourself feel like less of a shitty mum for losing your rag.
The truth is everyone has these moments, it’s part and parcel of having a new baby. But I’m not going to spin you a line about how easy it is. Because it’s wank and hard work. But whoever said being a mum was easy? And let’s be honest, you get through one shit night and you feel proud of yourself. And so you bloody should. We all need a theoretical pat on the back once in a while. Plus it means that glass of Pinot grigio is totally justified.