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.

Staying Positive

So, we’re rapidly approaching day ten and after 48 hours of military-style torture techniques we’ve just about survived the first growth spurt.

But now we’ve hit the wall. The adrenalin that kept us going since Izzie was born has worn off and the ‘I’m-the-best-dad-in-the-world, this-is-so-easy’ smugness wandered off around four o’clock this morning after five hours of trying to settle the little madam, and it hasn’t been seen since.

No, this is not going to be one of those blogs where people moan about how hard it is to be a new parent. I mean, come on: that’s a given. True, we’ve now joined the ranks of the bleary-eyed zombies that shuffle around muttering about how people without kids will never understand how hard it is, but we knew what we were getting ourselves into. Of course, I hadn’t realised how conversant I would become on poo colour or that I’d have to search high and low to find the right brand of nipple shield, but all life is a learning process.

This will be a predominantly positive blog. We have to find humour in even the most hopeless of situations, and this one is far from hopeless. At four am it can feel a little like the end of the world, but then the morning comes and all is well. What kept me going in the night was the realisation that, swaddled, lifting her bald head on a thin neck and chomping her toothless beak at me amidst her screams, my daughter looks uncannily like a tortoise. More accurately, she looks like a Koopa Trooper from a Super Mario game. That was enough to get me through.

Oh, and ear plugs take the edge off too!