Our daughter had just turned six weeks old, and for near enough each moment of each day of those six weeks my wife had been with, or at least in close proximity to her. So, when an opportunity arose for my wife to have a social evening out, seeing a film with colleagues, we both agreed it would be a good thing if she went. She would only be gone a few hours in the evening, but it meant she got to see what it would be like to take more of a prolonged break, and I would get to spend some quality time with our daughter. Apart from a stroll I took her on that ended up lasting much longer than planned, this would be the longest time it was just the two of us, and every one of us looked forward to the evening.
I’ve fed her before, put her to bed before, and done everything I was going to be doing, so I wasn’t worried about anything, and nor was my wife, but this time I wouldn’t have a team mate to cheer me on as I did these things. I dismissed this thought however, knowing that things wouldn’t be any different to the previous nights. We have recently started forging a routine for the end of the day, so there was a familiar outline that we could adhere to, meaning that what lay ahead would take a reassuringly predictable course.
My wife waved as she cycled away, and the baby and me sat down on a chair to discuss what shape the evening would take. A spot of playing, making faces at one another, and signing songs would be followed by one last feed at seven o’clock. Then it would be time for pyjamas, story, then bed. Once we had agreed this schedule, I felt a terrific movement from where I held her. We looked at one another as I began to feel a dampness on my leg. I looked down to see that not only was my leg damp but so was hers, and her sock. And not just damp, but mustard yellow.
An emergency nappy change and clean up threw things into disarray, I checked the clock to see that bed time was fast approaching and nearly upon us. So we went for the straight-to-pyjamas option. As I gently pulled the vest over her head and arms she began to doze off. “Okay…” I paused as I formed a decision. My wife had given her a feed not long before she left, so perhaps she was full enough to sleep through for a few hours. So off to bed I took her. She was drowsy, as I slipped her into her sleeping bag, and having just read about the importance of reading to your child, I thought we could return to our plan using the the story to soothe her off to sleep fully.
Rhold Dahl’s the Enormous Crocodile was next on her reading list (a list determined by my wife and I of childhood things we wanted to read). Maybe a bit scary I thought to myself, but she wouldn’t understand at this stage anyway. Maybe a bit long for one session actually, but it was fine because I figured that I could stop part way through once she had completely fallen asleep, she does not yet have a concept of a beginning middle and end yet.
As I started to read, her eyes widened, and she began to listen intently. I have noticed this more and more about her in the last few days. When I talk softly to her, or sing one of the completely made up songs I have become quite good at, she visibly reacts to the sound. Another indication that she continues to develop, and it’s also heart warming to see that our little girl likes the sound of my voice.
As the story went on, her eyes gradually drifted back down, and just as she was about to fall asleep she woke herself up with a fuss and a grumble, which could not be soothed any other way than by me picking her and rocking her. When she started to drift away again, I made an attempt to put her down, which provoked the same reaction of fussing and grumbling. So up I took her again, and again, and again. I had started to doubt my decision, and wondered if I really should have given her a top up feed, but before I did so, she allowed me to lay her down, the Enormous Crocodile was hurled into the sun*, and she began to softly snore.
The rest of the evening was punctuated by the baby monitor fussing and grumbling every ten minutes, which I remedied by returning upstairs and telling her it was okay, and to go to sleep, as I pushed slices of pizza into my mouth in the moments in between.
As the evening came to an end, my wife walked through the door looking relaxed and refreshed. She asked how things had gone.
“She pooed on me”, I said.
*Apologies if I have ruined the ending for you!