Sprog 1 has a cute trumpet teacher. I told her if she was a few years older, she’d have a crush on him. “So, do you have a crush on him?” she answered. “No,” I replied, “I’m like … 20 years … older than him … he’s young enough to be my … my son …” My stomach gave a terrible lurch. That fully grown adult teaching my child trumpet could technically be my son. I am sooooooo ooooooooold. I started sobbing brokenly on the inside, while smiling benignly at the Sprogs on the outside. Then I had another of my little frets about my reproductive years drawing to an end. I expect there’s still the occasional misshapened egg being released from my shrivelled ovaries. And Husband’s sperm should be good until he’s 70, 80, 90, dead. We could still create another one, prolong our youth with a bub … Then I stumbled across a feature I composed when Sprog 2 was six weeks old. Electronic contraception. It went something like this …
OK, you may be one of the lucky ones who finds it all an adorable breeze. If you are, I hate you. Almost as much as I hate the newspaper journalist who wrote a story recently about how outrageous it was that mothers only talk about the bad stuff, that having a baby is soooo fabulous, and that her baby slept through from 7pm to 7am from nine weeks of age. Nah, nah, ne-nah, nah! She made it sound so easy – all she did was follow a special feeding/settling method she read in a baby book and voila, she had the perfect infant!
My newborn was six weeks old today. The baby books tell me this can be the “crying peak” time. There has been a lot of crying today, mostly by the baby but I’ve felt a bit wobbly at times too.
My baby is currently in the middle of what Robin Barker, author of Baby Love, calls “five to six hours of catnapping, interspersed with crying”. It’s horrible.
In fact, as far as I’m concerned, there’s generally not much fun to be had in the first few months with a newborn. Unfortunately I’m not one of those lucky women who adore small babies. For me, they don’t start to get really interesting until around six months of age. Sadly, that’s long after I’ve returned to work from maternity leave.
I have a theory that babies reach a peak of cuteness around 12-18months. It’s around that time you curl up in bed with your husband every night raving about how adorable they were that day – all the amazing things they said and did that have convinced you that you must have another baby as quickly as possible. Hey, you’re so ga-ga over this kid, you contemplate a whole football team of rugrats to round out the family.
However, I’ve since decided this is another one of nature’s cruel tricks (like making you forget the pain of childbirth). Nature wants you to fall pregnant again before your first child hits the terrible twos, because once she does you will seriously reconsider all thoughts of expanding your family. You will lie in bed with your husband at night reviewing with horror all the dreadful things your toddler did today – like headbutting her cousin, lying down screaming in the middle of a road, snatching toys off other children, hitting you with her Bob The Builder hat …
It would be an ideal contraceptive, if only I hadn’t already given birth to a baby sister to the terrible toddler. Now there’s no going back, I’m trapped. Rest assured, there will be no more children. The maternity clothes have been packed up and given away. The newborn baby clothes will suffer the same fate when they get too small.
A friend came to visit a couple of days ago and assured me that my current aversion to having more kids will pass. She reckons the clucky urge will hit again in a year’s time. Uh-uh, think again. That’s why I’m writing this feature, so I don’t forget what it’s really like in the first few months; so I’m not tempted to do it all again. Because I know I’ll get to the second one’s first birthday and she’ll be so adorable and sweet that I’ll want a third baby. But I just can’t do the newborn thing again. It’s too, too awful.
You’re probably feeling a little horrified at this point. Especially if you don’t have a baby yet, or you’re one of those earth mother types who does it all with delightful ease. Or you’re my neighbour, who keeps cooing over the pram whenever she sees me, gushing “Oh, I love them at this age, they’re so divine – it’s my favourite stage.”
Is she insane? All newborns do is cry, poo, eat and sleep. If you’re lucky they smile at you before they hit the six week mark. Mine hasn’t yet, despite my best attempts to grin manically at her, babble nonsense words like “ah-goo” endlessly and sing nursery rhymes endlessly.
I thought things would be easier the second time around. I’d know what I was doing and would worry less. Wrong. Aside from avoiding bleeding nipples from breast-feeding this time, I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. By now I should know the difference between a hungry cry and a tired cry. Nup. I should understand the subtle tired signs. Nup. I should be a pro at soothing a screaming infant. Nup. The only thing I know from previous experience is that things will get easier one day. It just won’t be tomorrow.
By the time my husband comes home from work, I am often wild-eyed with exhaustion from lack of sleep and being screamed at for hours on end. I hate him for having escaped to the office for eight hours of peace and quiet and adult conversation … etc etc