Tribolum.com Making Light of Things

Surviving Day Three

It has been ten days since Anne was born. To be honest, it’s amazing that ten whole days have passed without Faith and I disintegrating into dust. I have been wanting to write about day 3 for some time now, but while it was meant to be a short tutorial of sorts, being a full-time parent often means that you lose the mental acuity to form and elaborate on ideas. Baby-babble has become my main language, and it is sometimes a struggle to find the right adult words.

Why day 3? The first day is all about the labour. The water-breaking, the contractions, the rush to the hospital. Whether the wife should take the epidural (I see many women nodding their heads). The baby doesn’t yet figure into the equation. I’m sure you read about how fathers who hold their babies for the first time magically transform from beer-guzzling middle-aged frat boys to sensitive, new-age stockbroker types. It’s a lie - day 3 is why they head back to the office to “be responsible and bring home the bacon”.

So you spend the first two days of the baby’s life in the hospital. Nurses tend to your child’s every need, wheeling your precious one in every two hours for the feed. The child’s an angel…yadda yadda. I even said that I was lucky that Anne had a more pleasing-sounding wail than most other babies I’ve heard screaming at the top of their lungs. You start to form plans and dreams.

“Such nice hair, maybe she can be a supermodel”. “He has huge feet, he could be the swimmer our landlocked country has been looking for”. Then before you get too carried away, the baby is wheeled back to the hospital nursery, and the last image you have of the baby is one of a content, well-fed, perfect bundle of joy.

Then comes day three. Day three comes after baby makes his or her inaugural car ride home. The cot you spent three hours assembling awaits, diapers stacked neatly on the side. There are no pillows or blankets because you just read the latest “how to care for your baby” book and it recommends these things. Your bedroom looks like the meeting room of the Scarlet Pimpernel because the books say that babies under two weeks old only see red, black and white. “Bach for babies” is on auto-repeat 24/7. Day 3 passes by, and you are glad that you followed the advice of the experts, even going the extra mile to get the two way $500 baby monitor so you can talk back when you hear little precious crying.

Little precious crying. That’s all you hear the entire night of day 3. You realise that the baby has an assortment of crying sounds, and the not-so-unpleasant-sounding one you heard at the hospital was the movie trailer of what would become the NeverEnding Story.

Anne’s cries that night grew stronger and more piercing as she tested her lungs out on new frequencies that would become more grating and accusatory in nature. There actually came a point I wanted to drop her (on our bed) in the morbid hope that something would break and the crying would stop. I tucked those feelings away, guilty that I could even feel or think a thought like that.

You get so sleep-deprived and flustered that you start spilling milk, breaking glasses, putting used diapers into the fridge instead of the bin. The only background, foreground and middleground noise is the “I didn’t ask to be born!” cry. There are gaps of reprieve in between, but none barely long enough for you to lie down and stretch your vertebre, which by this time have started to smart thanks to the “ergonomically friendly” diaper changing table you spent a month’s salary on.

If you’re the mother, you only start to notice the tears that have been streaming down your face the last two hours. Fathers get to experience levels of stress higher than any shoe-shopping excursions they have been dragged through.

Somewhere in the 45 secs we had to lie down, Faith told me that she felt like shaking Anne, and that she felt horrid about it. I told her I had wanted to drop Anne from a height onto our bed so maybe her batteries would fall out and the crying would stop. I’m glad I have a fellow psychotic in my wife.

In the last 5 secs of the 45 sec reprieve you decide to blog this down, hoping that there are more psychotics out there suffering the same plight. You make a mental note to ask Loobylu how she minds her child, comes up with illustrations, moves into a new home, embarks on Web projects and get this, hand-makes toys for her daughter. I used to think she was amazing, but after day 3 I’m about to set up a loobylu altar in my house.

In the last 5 secs of the 45 sec reprieve I decide to blog about day 3. About how I wanted to murder my child. It scares me to discover I am the person I am, and the parent I turned out to be so early in Anne’s childhood. Even Claire (aka Loobylu) said, “I am not really very good at this motherhood thing”. Maybe there’s hope for me yet.

Why am I only blogging this on Day 10? It took me less than a minute to decide to be honest about it here. I was spending the rest of the time picking up spat-out pacifiers.