Can I Return My Child Please?by Gemma Campbell
Baby number 1 was perfect. She slept through from 5 days old. She hardly ever cried. And I remember both of her poop explosions…which in hindsight was nothing.
6 years down the line, and no doubt with some rose-tinted glasses clouding the memories of a newborn, I had baby number 2.
I suppose his arrival, which was textbook compared to his sister’s, lulled me into a false sense of security. I recovered much quicker. I felt far more with it.
And then two weeks in, the two overnights at the hospital began to sharpen their differences. He was certainly making himself known. 6 weeks in and I was struggling with the 3 hourly feeds and the fact that he HATED his Moses basket. My social media feeds obviously alerted friends and acquaintances to the fact I was struggling and my inbox began to fill with tips, advice and virtual hugs. One good friend sent me laughing crying emoji faces and the words – “I see you’ve got a real baby this time!”
He DIDN’T sleep! Feeding had become a chore as I had to record every feed in detail for the Health Visitor and Community Midwives as he wasn’t thriving as he should and he was below the 25th percentile in that bloody red book. I honestly began to wonder if I’d made some terrible mistake. Unlike with my first, it was baby number 2. Grandchildren had occurred and the novelty had worn off, so Grandparent visits were almost non-existent. I had no support network as this time round my friends had already done baby number 2 and some were on number 3. I spent mornings just sitting in bed staring at him, as between the hours of 8 am and 11 am were the only time he slept. And whilst I knew I should be sleeping during this time, the doorbell seemed to ring incessantly.
My doctor kindly told me that babies weren’t born with watches and if he’d been partying in my womb at night, which he was, then they were his hours. He’d have to adjust. Only HE didn’t.
When he finally mastered feeding at about 3 ½ months, we then had the poop explosions to deal with. And by we, I think it’s fair to say me! They went up to his neck. They went in his belly button. Once, the poop was actually everywhere but in his diaper! I used to look at those white baby vests absolutely covered in poop and just bag them up with the diaper!
And the crying. Friends and work colleagues would tell me to ‘Ferberize’ him. Only he just got louder and more distressed and I simply could not do that to a baby. He didn’t understand why mommy wasn’t cuddling him constantly. I changed the crib for a next-to-me thing. I co-slept. I held him and rocked him and “made a rod for my own back”. And whilst I totally believed my Health Visitor in that you couldn’t ruin a baby, sometimes when I couldn’t even load the dishwasher, pee or make coffee, I did wonder?
That’s not to say Daddy wasn’t around or helping. He was. But in baby boy’s eyes, Daddy wasn’t Mommy! It was my sweaty armpits he wanted to bury his face in and my long lank hair he wanted to play with. We were now totally bottle-fed thanks to the feeding issues and so it wasn’t even like feeding time was a Mommy thing. He was just a Mommy’s boy. And at 8 months old, as nothing was any different, I’d find myself, in the middle of the night, or in the middle of the day thinking “can I return this one now!”
The only saving grace, at present, which I am forever thankful for, is that he isn’t and wasn’t a colicky baby nor is he allergic to anything. It’s just his sheer neediness for the old attachment parenting style that I struggle with, as sleep is now just a memory! And we aren’t even at the mobile moving around stage and I can’t even bear to think about the toddler years.