This evening I was left holding the baby; rather than celebrate the end of this very short work week by going out on the lash, I stayed home with my daughter, which gave my wife the opportunity to go and have a massage. I figured this couldn’t be too hard; there were two bottles of expressed breastmilk in the fridge and when my wife left the flat, Felicity was sleeping peacefully. All I had to do was carefully ration out the milk as necessary, in between reading a book and playing with my ever-so-cute kid.
Ten minutes later, she was screaming her head off and my book was a long forgotten hope. I tried jiggling her. I tried burping her. I tried swaddling her. I tried changing her nappy. None of these made a jot of difference, and I should have just started with sterilizing a bottle to feed her with, and I’d have saved ten minutes of her bawling. Even though it’s nice to feed your child, when you look down and see a teardrop slowly trickle down her cheek from the bad old minutes when she wasn’t actually being fed, you don’t feel so great.
I took the bottle out early, to burp her. She didn’t like that.
I put the bottle back in. She drained the remainder of the milk, and was then content for about five minutes, before she began to squall again.
Bottle number two was still in the fridge, with 60ml of milk in it, but I didn’t want to squander it. If that was gone before eight thirty, I’d still have a baby that needed consoling, and I’d have no mammary glands to use.
I walked her up and down outside our flat until I was exhausted. I did get up early this morning to work out, and last night’s run was fairly hard, so I wasn’t at my most energetic. (And I’d been drinking whisky at work, which didn’t help either.) I held off giving her the second bottle as long as possible, then found that when you have a bottle in one hand and a baby in the other, it’s damnably difficult to make a phone call to order takeaway pizza.
Somehow I managed that, and then our daughter, having sucked her bottle dry, made a liquid noise and filled her nappy. I’d just about finished changing her (after she’d urinated over one fresh nappy) when my wife returned, radiant and bearing fresh pizza.
The house didn’t burn down in her absence and I managed to keep our daughter alive, but it reinforced for me how easy life is when you don’t have to concentrate on your child every minute of the day. I might grumble about office life sometimes, but it’s a cakewalk compared to the concentration-span-dissolving that an hour and a half with a baby will inflict on you. I’m glad I have a wife who’s robust enough to take this in her stride.