Home alone

Babies appear to have a sixth sense about when would be the worst time to kick off, and decide that that would be the perfect time to do so. It has not been an easy weekend. She was left in Daddy daycare while I helped Celine flat hunt – apparently she screamed or griped throughout with a brief half hour snooze to revive herself for the next bout. It was slightly gratifying that on my return her grizzling reduced which could suggest some recognition (she barely noticed when we returned from dinner earlier in the week) or it could just be the standing and rocking that did it. All this screaming had quite exhausted her – she slept through our walk in the grounds of a local stately home with Mark and Harold, his seven month old, and continued sleeping into the evening only vaguely waking to be fed and not even being woken by the dreaded nappy changes. We thought this was probably a bad sign for things to come but it was nice to have an evening to ourselves and to watch a film together without interruption (The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert was our movie night choice and what a fabulously bizarre movie it was!).

And what happens to babies who sleep through the evening? They think the day starts early and the day means feeding frenzies are fair game!

It started relatively normally, feeding at midnight, then 2am when I was trying to go to bed – that would usually mean I would get a break till 5 or 6am. Two hours later at 4am the feeding frenzy began:

  • 4.00-4.45am, I then tried to go back to sleep;
  • 45 minutes later 5.30-6.15am;
  • two hours later 8.30-9.00am;
  • not satisfied by that 10.15-11.00am;
  • and then a glorious two hour break to 1.20pm, then I got up, exhausted.

You have to remember with all of these that 10 minutes of my “breaks” will be taken up with nappy changes. Elphie is pretty good – for the past month generally I will get two reasonable 3-4 hour tranches of sleep overnight; going back to this newborn pattern, even just for one night, was quite a shock!

Seemingly undeterred by lack of sleep, I decided to soldier on with the plans for the day involving a trip to Westfield to sort out Fred’s laptop battery before he headed off on his business trip and then to Oxford Street to have a look at cots. We had lunch in between at The Diner, the only diner I have found in London which lives up to the expectations I have from American diners – the pancakes were delicious and Fred’s blue cheese burger went down well, especially with the cheesy fries (I am salivating even thinking about it…) – plus, although we didn’t partake, they do free refills on coffee, just like in the States; they don’t offer the same on iced water as standard though – but everywhere needs something to improve on. Anyway, I digress, lunch would have been the perfect time for Elphie to feed but despite being offered it was point blank refused and she continued sleeping. Of course the minute she was out of the restaurant, she kicked off demanding to be fed (babies!) – but she had to wait as Barkers shoe shop when in the process of closing was not the place for breastfeeding action, and we needed to have a brief look at the cots given this was the whole point of the trip before giving into her and heading for the John Lewis family room for a feeding extravaganza. I tell you all this, because it reminds you that she had just been fed so what followed should not have happened…

Once fed, Elphie and I returned home on the bus, whence we went forth to take Fred to the airport where he was deserting us for four days and nights (not that I am counting) to go to Rio on business. I had arranged to go to my Mum’s the next day, but had to stay at home that night because Elphie was due her fortnightly health visitor clinic visit to be weighed and interrogated by the health visitor, so I was going to be home alone with the baby overnight for the very first time.

It all started badly. On the way to the airport she kicked off. I had brought some milk, so Fred was able to feed her some en route. Once he had left us at the drop off zone (and given she was still screaming), I gave her the rest of the bottle. Then I realised her nappy needed changing, so emergency airport drop off zone changing commenced and of course the nappy was a corker. This was the point where I found the changing bag had run out of nappy bags – the perfumed bags used to dispose of baby detritus (much like those used for dog detritus) – and I almost went into the terminal to track down and kill Fred who was supposed to have checked the changing bag earlier in the day, luckily I found one loose at the bottom of the bag so the hazardous material could be safely removed from Heathrow in a suitable container.

So after that trauma we got home and I was thinking she would probably want some more food as she had started screaming again, so I was just preparing for that and I picked her up ready to feed her and she promptly vomited what must have been the entire 100ml feed onto me – into my hair, onto my chest and my top and collecting in a lovely pool in my bra, as well as all over herself. Cue emergency clean up operation in the bathroom, trying to mop myself down, remove the soiled clothes and rinsing them alongside doing the same for her, with her screaming at the top of her lungs. This was the second time in her life that she had thrown up (both times all over me although this time she missed the sofa at least) and although worrying I figured it was likely to be a one-off like last time (BabyCentre provide a useful guide on when you should worry and when you shouldn’t). Then the poonamis started. I went through four nappies in a row, which is a record for Elphie – the minute I changed one, put the new nappy on and got her clothes back on her then I would hear another eruption and have to start again. You would think I would have learnt, but each time I didn’t think there could possibly be any more especially given the amount she had hurled – but I was wrong. A number of emotional and overwrought text messages were sent to Fred who was sat on his plane explaining my distress at having to look after a seven week old on my own and how abandoned I felt – of the truly irrational and psychotic kind, I am sure he appreciated them.

The night was what I would term a moderate one with about 2hr45 between feeds, but on top of the previous night and having to get up early for the health visitor clinic meant I was pretty tired. Elphie slept beautifully through the clinic for a good 4 hours, which meant she had no interest in a mid afternoon nap. The time had come to admit defeat – so I hot footed it to my Mum’s, where there are adults who can watch her while I take a shower or entertain her while I eat or comfort her when she cries. I just need to feed her and change her nappy (still don’t have many volunteers for that particularly activity).

It was a bit traumatic retreating – getting all the stuff together that she could need singlehandedly (how much stuff do babies need?!) while she screamed for unknown reason; panicking that I was going to somehow lock myself out of the flat with Elphie inside while I was loading the car; and the torrential rain that accompanied our journey.

But now we are safe in the care of my mother – with my meals cooled for me, our washing done and bathtime outsourced – aren’t mothers great! I just now need to convince myself that I want to go back…

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