Small Child had his 7th Birthday today. I know parents the world over are fond of saying how quickly they grow up – but it’s true. Feels like barely a couple of months ago that we bought him home from the hospital. He was tiny 5lb7oz with a head hardly the size of a largish apple that fit in the palm of my (little though they are) hands and the little bugger wouldn’t breastfeed to boot… so, well… to be totally honest I was scared shitless. I know we all expect the sickly sweet Johnston and Johnston version of instant mother-baby bonding bullshit and we’re not supposed to admit it if we don’t immediately love our babies… but my experience of early motherhood certainly didn’t resemble the brochure.
He went from being in a Special Care Unit for premature babies and being watched over 24/7 by well qualified midwife/nurse types to being handed over to me to take home. Honestly?!? What the fuck were they thinking? I was in hospital for 9 days after a c-section delivery and most of that time Angel spent in the Prem Unit until the last two nights where they roomed him in with me and I was supposed to demonstrate that he was feeding okay and would be fine to go home.
I can’t remember why I was so frightened that they might send me home without him, but it was the last thing I wanted so I did what every terribly neurotic and hormonal post-natal woman with extremely bad judgment does in a situation like that … I lied my arse off. I told them that he’d fed well and that he slept for about 2-4hours at a time. The Truth™ was that he definitely wasn’t feeding properly and he was sleeping for barely 20-30mins at a time before waking up hungry again…. which means that I was waking up every 20-30mins and attempting to feed him each time.
At the end of the two sleepless nights where the Small Infant flatly refused to sleep the pediatrician came to see me to assess how things were going and decide whether or not we could all go home together. So now we have a SLEEP DEPRIVED terribly neurotic, hormonal post-natal woman with extremely bad judgment lying her arse off to the good doctor so they’ll let her go home – all I remember of that particular interview was that I was trying hard to smile and make it seem like everything was okay while simultaneously fighting a concrete certainty that everyone around me was talking to me under water! I struggled and I mean REALLY struggled to keep my mind on what the doctor was saying and I was convinced they would see right through me and would decide to keep the Small Infant in hospital.
The only other time I have ever felt even remotely that sleep deprived was on my way to London back in ’95 when our 28hr long haul flight turned into a 46hr long haul nightmare due to an overweight business man on the flight having a heart attack over Tehran which necessitated in our being unceremoniously re-routed to Bahrain for several hours before being eventually dumped in Heathrow feeling like rung out dishrags. Ah.. but I digress.
Post-natally hormonal, more than usually paranoid, extremely stressed, totally inexperienced, positively exhausted new Mom who felt like she’d just come straight from a week in a ‘well lit room in Gitmo’ and thought people were talking to her underwater got handed one tiny underweight, 4 weeks premature Small Infant with no suck reflex, that refused to feed, slept only in 30min blocks and would go into infant shutdown on not infrequent occasions with an admonishment from the pediatrician that if same Small Infant didn’t put on weight over the next week he would be readmitted – a recipe for success if you ever heard one! Ah… Good times people… good times.!