Being Silly

A few weeks ago when Izzie really started interacting with us and the world around her, my brother said, ‘Now’s the time they start to get interesting.’ I totally disagree. She was always interesting, but now’s the time she’s starting to get fun.

That’s not to say the first twelve weeks or so didn’t have their moments. All those firsts – first smile, first tears, first proper sad face, first time she grabbed my glasses and threw them on the floor – were exciting and revelatory. But the past few weeks she’s understood enough to be consistent in her behaviour – she’s discovered cause and effect, that a string of sounds can be funny and not just single weird noises, and she’s interested in everything. Consequently, whereas before she could be soothed by simple rocking or muttering, now she wants a whole song and dance routine.

I said a few weeks back that after colic, teething would be a breeze. Well I’m sorry to tell anyone with the same desperate hope that it’s anything but.

Colic hits in the evenings. True, the crying doesn’t stop and goes on for hours, but you can prepare for it by doing what you need to do during the day. Teething lasts all bloomin’ day, hour after hour, a constant procession of whining, grizzling, crying, chewing on everything within reach, and more crying. You have to change her outfit three times a day because she’s soaked with drool from her neck to her belly button, and that’s with the dribble bib in place. Feeding becomes a nightmare because she just wants to chew on the teat instead of suck, and getting her to sleep is impossible without teething gel, dummy and plenty of rocking.

But unlike colic, with teething you can sort of distract them from it. And that’s where the fun comes in.

If, every time she cries, you think, ‘Sheesh, not again,’ then it’s going to be a very long teething time. I made that mistake. Six hours is a killer with a baby that won’t settle, won’t rest, won’t sleep, won’t soothe. So you have to change your thinking. A lot of books tell you to embrace your silly side, and they’re right – when else are we going to have a legitimate excuse to act like a hyperactive eight-year-old?

Crying is not the enemy, just your reaction to it. Instead of thinking it a chore every time she cries and you have to comfort her, you have to think of it as an opportunity. ‘Yes! I get to act like a lunatic again!’ And how far you take it is up to you.

The past few days, in order to soothe Izzie I’ve been a human beat box – ‘wickedy, wickedy, wah, wickedy, zoop zoop, pow’ – turned her into an aeroplane, a spaceship and a pterosaur, reenacted the ‘Hot Stuff’ dole queue scene from the Full Monty, used more funny voices than Seth MacFarlane, sung a million-and-one half-remembered nursery rhymes, dusted off my guitar, made up all kinds of pretend languages, jumped around doing my Gollum impression, done peekaboo by holding up the muslin, my T-shirt and the dog, blown raspberries on her belly, read to her from a geology textbook (which she strangely enjoyed) and changed the lyrics to around two-dozen popular songs. For example, her afternoon lullaby, to the tune of In the Bleak Midwinter, goes:

Sleepy time, my baby,

Sleepy time for you,

Sleepy time, my baby,

Time to have a snooze.

Why oh why won’t you just sleep?

You’ve been up for hours,

So sleepy time, my baby,

Dad’s mood is turning sour.

She loves it, and it keeps her quiet. It doesn’t actually send her to sleep, but it stops her crying, and changing the words to the second four lines is always fun:

Come on baby, go to sleep,

The hour is getting late,

If you don’t close your eyes right now

I’ll roll you out the gate.

That sort of thing.

She also enjoyed this morning’s rendition of Voodoo Child by Jimi Hendrix – a duet that alternated between Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy. Admittedly, a passive-aggressive amphibian and his physically-abusive spouse might not be ideal role models, but right now she has no idea who they are, so all’s good.

Unfortunately, acting like Jim Carrey all day is incredibly draining – not even Jim Carrey likes to be himself. I’m not going to lie to you – looking after a baby of this age is bloody hard work. But it can also be surprisingly fun, and kind of therapeutic, if you allow yourself to be a little silly. And the rewards – your child’s laughter, smiles and bemused silence instead of tears, tantrums and burst eardrums – are well worth the effort.

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Colic, Part 2

Colic is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to deal with, and if I was twenty and not the thirty-five that I now am, I’m not sure I’d have the tools to cope with it. Although ‘coping’ is a relative term: as I said in my last post, all you can do is survive.

When you’re not experiencing it, colic is a very easy thing to dismiss. ‘It’s nothing to worry about, just a bit of colic,’ is what you hear from health professionals, while people whose kids are grown and gone reassure you that it passes, so don’t let it colour your perceptions of parenting.

Nobody should ever use the word ‘just’ alongside ‘colic’. It’s like saying falling down a flight of stairs is ‘just a little tumble’. And the fact that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel is no practical help when you’re standing at the coal face in the dark. This might sound melodramatic, and if I weren’t the one going through it, I might roll my eyes and say, ‘Oh get on with it, nobody ever said it’d be easy.’ But the unlikely truth is that an eleven pound baby that can’t verbalise, move, or consciously plan her behaviour can dish out punishment like a professional.

A colicky baby doesn’t cry. Crying is dainty, purposeful and reasonable. A colicky baby screams an angry, pain-filled shriek of accusation and exasperation. The volume, tone and pitch seem perfectly calculated to inflict pain, set your teeth on edge, and rattle your nerves. And the duration – hour after hour after hour – saps your strength and your ability to think clearly. You can’t eat, talk, go to the toilet, read, watch TV, listen to music, or in any way relax because you’re subjected to a continuous assault on the senses.

And assault is what it is. While Asperger’s Syndrome is often portrayed as a social condition, many of us are afflicted with sensory issues from extreme sensitivity to surprising insensitivity. Lizzie has no sense of smell, very little sense of taste, and while she is oversensitive to touch, she has an incredibly high tolerance of pain. But like me, she has hypersensitive hearing, able to hear whispered conversations from several rooms away. This means that when Izzie screams, it causes us physical pain and a rush of adrenalin that befuddles us even further.

Worse are the emotions it stirs up. People liken those of us with Asperger’s to Mr. Spock from Star Trek – logical, unemotional beings who live in our heads, not our hearts – and they’re right, but not in the way that they think. Because the Vulcans are not unemotional creatures, but are in fact so emotional that they’ve had to come up with a way to control and overcome their passions. I think that far from being unemotional, people with AS feel emotions too much, and so force them down and try to operate at the level of intellect. This means we don’t understand our emotions, don’t know how to control then, so do our best to keep them at bay.

Colic unlocks them.

Lizzie can cope with a crying baby for around three minutes before it becomes too much. She feels overwhelmed, afraid, guilty; she gets upset. Why is Izzie crying? Why can’t I stop it? I’m a bad mother; I can’t deal with this; I’m not good enough. Lizzie’s heart pounds, her body goes into defence mode, and she hands the baby back to me and leaves the room. It damages her ability to bond with the baby and her involvement in Izzie’s care. I catch her crying when she’s by herself. It means we’re floating around a diagnosis of something with the initials PND.

This isn’t exclusive to parents with Asperger’s, of course. Colic is well known to heighten stress and cause anxiety, postnatal depression, self-esteem issues and relationship difficulties. You feel helpless. You feel frustrated by your inability to do anything to help. But you know it’s not the baby’s fault, so you take it out on each other.

As a couple, during a bout of colic you communicate by shouted niggles and pointed digs, because you’re both stressed and tired and you can’t hear one another or have anything like a reasonable conversation. You start to think about how unfair it is that the other person is eating dinner while yours is getting cold, or that they’re having a nice relaxing bath while you’re gritting your teeth against a tornado. It’s no wonder it puts such a strain on relationships. By the time it’s finished, it’s so late that you collapse into bed and the last thing you want to be is an attentive partner. Cuddle? I just want to be left alone.

Given Lizzie can only cope for around three minutes, when Izzie cries for a solid eight hours, I bear the brunt for seven hours and fifty-seven consecutive minutes. Her screams make such an impact on my mind that I even hear phantom baby cries when she’s fast asleep. It’s lonely trying to console a colicky baby, a nightmarish fight for survival that breaks your heart in two.

But survive I must and survive I do, even if I despair sometimes, even if I’m driven to tears, because I’m a dad, and that’s what dads do. The true measure of a person is not how they cope when everything’s going well, but what they do when it’s all falling apart. I knew going in that I’d have to walk through hell for my daughter, and it’s a price I’m willing to pay.

One day it’ll be over and I can wear my scars with pride. Until then, I just have to keep fighting, and remember what it is I’m fighting for.

Yogi Bear

This. Always this.

Colic

As six o’clock approaches, the seconds seem to tick closer together like the theme tune to Jaws, a panicked heartbeat that whispers, ‘Something wicked this way comes.’ Around the world, I imagine there are millions of parents like us, watching the clock, asking those self-same questions over and over again as though driven to the edge of madness: will my baby scream tonight? Will we survive until bedtime? Or will the colic monster get us?

That’s actually a bit of an exaggeration. While on average, colic occurs between 6pm and midnight, Izzie tends to start crying between five and six and continues for at least five hours. And we don’t watch the clock – we just have a vague apprehension as the afternoon wears on that this could well be the quiet before the almighty evening storm. But the rest is true: colic takes you to the very edge of despair.

I must admit, up until a few weeks ago I had no idea what colic is. In fact, I still don’t, because nobody does. What causes it? Nobody knows. Why does my baby have it? Nobody knows. What can I do to prevent it? Is she in pain? Why won’t she stop screaming? Nobody knows.

Colic affects at least one in every five babies, so it’s not exactly a fringe subject, but we know more about Kim Kardashian’s backside than what’s making our babies scream their lungs out all evening.

In this modern age of super fast fibre optic broadband, 5G phones and viagra for women, it’s easy to forget that we don’t know everything. With a seemingly infinite number of academic departments and high-tech companies committed to spending vast amounts of money probing the smallest and furthest reaches of the universe (Large Hadron Collider, anyone?), you could be forgiven for thinking that the biggest discoveries left to be made are unimaginably far away in size, space or time.

But the truth is that while we know some complex things in great detail, we have no idea about a lot of basic stuff. We know the state of the universe in the split second following the Big Bang – ten to the minus forty-three seconds after the Big Bang, to be exact, or 43 zeroes after the decimal point – and that was around thirteen billion years ago, but we don’t even know why people yawn. We used to think it gave an oxygen boost to a tired brain, but since that’s been shown to be false, there’s no consensus among scientists on why we do it. Is it a social signal to synchronise bedtimes for people living in groups? A means of cooling the brain? A stimulus to muscle stretching? Nobody knows.

This knowledge disparity is equally true of medical science. We can use 3D bioprinters to replicate tissues, grow organs in Petri dishes, transplant pigs’ hearts into human beings. Thanks to the pharmaceutical industry, more than half of people diagnosed with cancer survive, while HIV is no longer a death sentence. And if medical TV shows and every Hollywood movie are to be believed, we can zap people with a jolt of electricity and bring them back to life after their hearts have stopped (news flash: we can’t).

Yet if you’ve ever spent much time in a hospital, you’ll realise modern medicine is based on guesswork. When Izzie was in ICU she had a temperature, so they started her on two types of antibiotic. Her symptoms went away, so we know one of them (probably) worked, but we don’t know what was actually wrong with her or why it worked. Same with the antidepressants known as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). It’s assumed they increase serotonin levels, but they’re not actually sure how they work, only that they do. The morning after pill? It prevents pregnancy – somehow. Modern medicine is less high-tech science and more ‘let’s throw a bunch of pills at you and see what happens. Ah, it’s cleared up? It might have been something we did. Or not.’ In other words, it’s somewhere between science, art and alchemy.

The diagnostic criteria for colic reflects the vague idea of what it is. Colic is defined as three hours of unexplained crying at least three days a week for at least three weeks in an otherwise healthy baby. ‘Unexplained’ in this context means ‘unstoppable’, in that she doesn’t want food, changing or burping, and the usual things that comfort a crying baby don’t work: she just cries. It normally resolves by the time baby is four months, but can last up to a year (heaven forfend!). And there’s not much you can do about it.

There are, of course, many theories about colic. The most likely is that it’s the result of wind trapped in the intestines as colic is often accompanied by a red face as though straining, hands balled into fists, knees drawn up as though suffering stomach cramps, and an abundance of farting. Since babies lack a functioning body clock, it remains a mystery exactly why it occurs in the evening, but gas in the pipes seems as good an explanation as any.

Soothing a colicky baby is an absolute nightmare. Yesterday, Izzie cried from five till ten in the evening, stopping only to swallow when she was fed. I offered her the dummy, put her in the sling, cuddled her, walked her in the pram, took her for a drive, rocked her, sang to her, read to her, put her over my shoulder, my lap, my thighs, swung her in the car seat, sat her in her vibrating bouncy chair, played music, played the guitar, massaged her belly, put her on the bed, the sofa, the beanbag, on her front, back, side, and all to no avail. Ultimately, it took a combination of swaddling her, rocking her in the Moses Basket with her dummy in her mouth, playing white noise loudly right beside her head and making shushing sounds to settle her. Even then, I’m not sure if she went to sleep because of what I did or because she had exhausted herself. Whatever the case, we survived another evening.

That is all you can think about during an episode of colic: survival. Beyond a feeling of utter helplessness, colic can have a very negative effect on the parent. I will discuss these in my next post, but for now it’s enough to say that having a baby with colic can cause frustration, exhaustion, anxiety and depression, and puts added pressure on the parental relationship.

If you have a baby with colic, it might be a small consolation to know that you’re not alone, you’re not doing anything wrong that’s causing it, and colic doesn’t seem to cause any long-term effects. Of greater solace is the fact that, whether in a few weeks or a few months, this is going to be over. It will end. And once we’ve conquered this, teething is going to be a doddle!

Asking For Help

Despite what you may have been told by a song from the brownest decade of the Twentieth Century, sorry is not the hardest word. A side-effect of Western culture’s emphasis on individuality and personal freedom in the economic, familial, artistic, political and social spheres has been to make a sacred cow of independence. Since Victorian times, society has treated the nuclear family as the model for civilisation – autonomous units comprising a father, a mother, and children. And a proper man looks after his family alone. A proper man makes his own way in the world. A proper man does it by himself.

These days, the hardest word is ‘help’. It’s an admission that you’re weak; it means you’re not a proper man; it means you can’t look after your family. Men are trained from birth to hide their weakness. Women are bombarded with images of the ideal mother. And people with Asperger’s Syndrome are confronted with what it is to be normal. We spend our lives fighting to meet an unachievable ideal. Deep down, we know these images are utter rubbish, because everyone needs help from time to time, and despite what they like to pretend, most self-made men have had help from family, friends, and the special lady who hides behind the scenes. But even so, we act as though it’s true.

This doesn’t seem to be such a problem in the East. Over there, families comprise grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews, nieces, and various hangers-on in addition to fathers, mothers and children. There’s no arbitrary age at which people should leave home, cut the apron strings and become independent.

And why should there be? We never stop learning in life, and we never stop meeting situations we don’t know how to deal with. Each generation helps and teaches the next, but they don’t suddenly stop after eighteen years and now you’re on your own. I’ve never had children before, but my parents have, so they can guide me. Then, when my kids have children, I can guide them, and so on and so forth.

Help is not a dirty word. A dirtier word is ‘I got so overwhelmed that I climbed onto the roof, stripped naked and started throwing tiles at passersby while chanting nursery rhymes and calling myself Cthulhu.’ Which is a distinct possibility at the moment because we need help.

Before the baby’s born you think you’ll take it all in your stride, and you do, for a few weeks. In weeks 1-6, the moment the baby blinks you leap up and deal with her. And then the adrenalin wears off. Week 8, you see movement in the pram – a foot comes into view, an arm suddenly darts into the air – and you freeze. Don’t make a sound: she might settle. A gurgle in her throat: don’t cry, don’t cry, please don’t cry. Waaaaaah! Damn it.

Izzie has entered a phase called ‘making mum and dad’s lives a misery.’ It consists of crying and grizzling all the time, except when she’s screaming. Not charming, melt-your-heart screams like you hear in supermarkets, but nerve-shattering end-of-the-world screams, with crimson cheeks and floods of tears, and nothing you do can stop it. We’ve spent an arm and a leg on anti-colic bottles, anti-colic formula, anti-colic beanbags, a vibrating anti-colic chair, but all to no avail. She screams in the car; she screams in the pram; she screams in the garden and the kitchen and the woods. She screams in my lap, over my shoulder, lying across my thighs, cuddled in my arms. She screams when she’s feeding, for crying out loud, suck, scream, suck, scream, suck, scream.

And sleep during the day is a thing of the past. The other morning she started at six a.m. and we finally managed to settle her at midnight. Yesterday she went from five a.m. to eight p.m. She’s so tired she rubs her face with the backs of her hands, screws her fists into her eyes, lolls from side to side, and the bags grow black under her eyes, but still she won’t close them. It’s as though she’s afraid she might miss something, or if she falls asleep she’ll wake to find we’ve grabbed our passports and run away to Acapulco without her – and she’s right to worry, because that last one was a serious possibility yesterday afternoon. I love her to bits but good gosh I wish she’d shut up for five minutes. I don’t think I’m asking a lot.

The past three days in picture form!
The past three days in picture form!

And so yesterday, reaching deep, we asked for help. My mum came over and babysat for two hours while Lizzie and I went out for a coffee. It’s normal and natural – it’s the first time we’ve left Izzie since she was in ICU, the first time off in seven weeks – but boy did we feel like we were failing as parents. Because parents are meant to cope without any help. Because parents are meant to love their children so much they never need a break from them.

Help is not a dirty word. But it sure does feel like it.

Venting

I had planned to write a very funny post tonight about being fooled by cynical marketing ploys. Like how Franklin W. Dixon, who wrote the Hardy Boys books, and Caroline Keener, who wrote Nancy Drew, never existed, but were a conglomerate of about thirty authors under two pseudonyms to create brand loyalty among eight-years-olds. And how Panadol is simply Paracetamol, just three times the price; Nurofen is no more than Ibuprofen, but it has a pretty advert so people think it’s worth the extra money; and Nutricia, who make Aptamil, and Cow & Gate, who make Cow & Gate, are actually the same company.

Yes, it’s quite a shocker. Different coloured lids, one a reassuring scientific blue, the other a family friendly red, but they’re two sides of the same coin. Apparently, despite having identical ingredients, the amounts of each are marginally different and they source them from different places – probably meaning Aptamil comes from the left teats and Cow & Gate the right. Whatever the case, I’ll never look at the formula market as a triangle, with SMA as the third corner, ever again. It’s more like a line.

But that’s not what I’m going to write about. Instead I’m going to vent.

Venting is healthy, venting is necessary, and if we didn’t find safe ways to let out the scream that’s been building then we’ll either let it out in damaging ways or else our heads will explode. Which, come to think of it, is probably damaging too, except for carpet cleaning companies, who’d love it. I digress…

I was going to make a joke about Izzie screaming for six hours to celebrate turning six weeks old. The joke would have worked, had she stopped screaming after six hours. It’s eight hours and counting. I love my child, I love being a dad, but right now, nearing midnight, eyes pink, back aching, ears ringing (yes, really) from the window-shaking volume of my daughter’s cries, I just wish she could shut up for five minutes. Just five. I’m not asking for a miracle here, people. 300 seconds of silence. Please God, that’s not too much to ask.

To say that Izzie has been difficult the past couple of days is like saying the Himalayas are a little hilly. Her mother was out all day yesterday, leaving me in charge of puppy and baby both. I was really looking forward to catching up on some sleep, doing my model, reading a book, and just generally relaxing with my daughter. Endless hours of grizzling, crying and feeding later, she was asleep in her cot. At shortly after midnight.

Today was so much worse. After a pleasant morning at the New Forest Show, where she spent most of her time trying to lift her head and gaze at all the people passing by, four o’clock arrived and Izzie turned into a monster. She screamed the entire car journey home. And when I say screamed, I don’t mean simple crying, I’m talking about peel-the-paint-off-the-wall, angry, strength-sapping roars of the deepest portion of hell.

She screamed in the lounge. She screamed through the hallway. She screamed up the stairs. She’s screaming right now in my lap at I jiggle her up and down while writing this with one exasperated hand.

Actually, I tell a lie. She hasn’t been screaming continuously for eight hours. She’s been feeding, screaming, feeding, screaming in a cyclical pattern. Although that’s not accurate either, as she’s making a moany, screechy sound as she’s feeding, and screams every time she pauses to breathe or swallow.

I’m slightly at a loss here. She’s so distressed she won’t latch onto the dummy. Changing her, burping her, rocking her, singing to her, taking her for a drive, a walk, into the garden, baby massage, it has no effect whatsoever. She just wants to feed and scream.

She normally has around 22 ounces of milk each day. She’s already up to 30 ounces, and has had boiled water, and still she wants more. If it’s a growth spurt, as Lizzie suggests, I had better look in the Moses Basket in the morning and find she’s shot up in size like Jack’s beanstalk.

How can a baby even stay awake for eight solid hours? How is her throat not rasping and sore? How can she fit all of that milk inside?

Lizzie has just asked if our baby is superhuman. No. The full moon isn’t till Friday, but it’s been building up a few days. The hunger, the screaming, the copious amounts of body hair, the way she claws at us no matter how neatly we file her fingernails, the fact she’s more alert at night than during the day, the desperate champing at the teat as though nothing will satisfy her bloodlust  – it all makes sense now. She’s a werewolf, isn’t she?

Right now, she’s a werewolf that can’t act on her desires. So God help us all when she learns to walk.

The following morning:

She slept for a solid six hours last night. I don’t remember the last time I had six straight hours of sleep. I feel a little woozy – I’m too well rested.

Reflecting on last night, I think all parents need to find a way to safely vent. You can be as patient as a saint, but nobody can indefinitely endure such an assault on the senses. It’s not just the noise, either: seeing the despair on the baby’s face and being unable to do a thing about it cuts to the heart, messing with your emotions and leaving you just as desperate and willing to try anything. It’s so easy to lose control in that state, and you can’t afford to ever lose control around your baby.

If you can’t cope anymore, you just don’t know what to do, make sure the baby’s safe, make sure she’s in a clean nappy, put her in her cot or pram or basket, and leave the room. Get out of there. Go back a few minutes later when you’ve calmed down. You can’t help the baby if you can’t help yourself.

And remember, things always seem worse at night. Especially when there’s a full moon.

Knowing What’s Right

As a new parent, you want to get things right. You want to do the right kind of feeding, whether breast or bottle, the right amount, the right products, the right process. What kind of teat, how fast the flow, normal or anti-colic, two-hourly, three-hourly, on demand? You want the right sort of nappies, the right size, the right comfort. Sleepsuit or outfit? Woolly hat or sunhat? Is she warm enough? Too hot? What’s the right thing to do?

Unfortunately, ‘right’ is a fluid concept. It changes depending on who you talk to, which books you read, the websites you consult. It changes from child to child, and no matter how much you weigh up the evidence for one thing against another, the answer remains ever elusive. Short of turning your baby into a test subject as you experiment on them with various methods and tools to see what works, which not only makes you and your child confused but damages your bank balance, you have to find some way of navigating through all this mess.

The answer seems to be a little esoteric.

I have known a few psychics in my time, mostly teenaged self-proclaimed witches and middle-aged divorcees with ‘the gift’ who go on to prove it by telling me I’m sensible when the situation calls for it, but also fun in the right circumstances, that I’m extroverted at those times when I’m not being shy, and that I am confident except for when I’m not. Wow, you should charge money for that. You are? No wonder my wallet feels so light.

Anyway, as an endlessly inquisitive and sceptical sort of fellow, I wanted to know more about the process of being, ahem, psychic. They told me they received ‘impressions’. Well then, what form did these impressions take? Did they see visions? Did they experience it as feelings? Did they hear it as voices? Thoughts? Some other sense that those of us on the non-psychic plane of existence couldn’t understand?

And how clear were these impressions? Were they vague and poorly formed? Were they a tangled jumble of thoughts and feelings? How did they sort out this bundle of interconnected data streams? How did they interpret them?

Apparently, that’s not how it works. You don’t ponder, you don’t analyse, you don’t question and evaluate and formulate. You just know.

As someone with Asperger’s Syndrome who has to think his way through everything, the idea that you can ‘just know’ is an alien concept. Like those other cliches ‘follow your heart’ and ‘go with the flow’, I can’t select a course of action without first weighing up all the available options and comparing the possible benefits and repercussions. My world is a rational world of thought.

At least, it was until last week. Lizzie and I were always averse to dummies (pacifiers for my American readers). Then one day we looked at a horribly unsettled, colicky baby, looked at one another and said in one voice, ‘Let’s get her a dummy.’ Neither rhyme nor reason, no analysis, no evaluation or assessment. We just knew, intuitively, in that moment, that it was the right thing to do.

And it was. For the past week, Izzie has been a calmer, happier baby. It isn’t lazy parenting, it’s doing what your child needs. I wouldn’t recommend it for every baby, but Izzie needed something to soothe her between feeds more than cuddles, rocking, burping and going for walks. In spite of the censure of people who don’t matter anyway, I know we made the right decision.

Loathe as I am to admit it, having a baby has made me realise you can overthink things. It is hardwired into our DNA to know what is right for us and our babies. If you’re faced with an impossible decision, switch off your brain and allow your instincts to take over. You might find that your intuition already knows the right thing to do.

But take my advice: if your instincts tell you to try the baby’s milk, they’re not to be trusted. You’ll be tasting that warm sour yoghurt tang the rest of the day.