So now what…?

February 9, 2011 at 6:43 am (Uncategorized)

Now the birth story is FINALLY finished, nearly 11 weeks after the event itself, I’m trying to figure out what to write about next… god, there is just so much material I scarcely know where to begin. And I can understand, I really can, how it is that new parents end up boring everyone rigid with their incessant talk of their gummy progeny. It’s because it’s so absorbing. For a start, Baby J is fed six times every 24 hours. Because of his reflux (a diagnosis that has swelled to include colic now too), he needs to be held upright for 20 minutes after every portion of every feed. Each half takes 20 minutes, so it’s an hour and twenty, or 8 solid hours a day, before I even factor in changing his nappy, play time, and settling. Once you start to pile on household chores (I know the advice is to let everything slide, but that little nugget strikes me as something of a false economy. None of the things that need doing stop needing to be done, they just back up like a Venetian toilet) and, you know, eating or going to the toilet myself, or daring to attempt a walk or a phone call, it quickly turns into a very long day. And that’s without the hours and hours of screaming. Literally hours, and literally screaming. Thankfully, given the combination of time (for his oesophagal sphincter muscle to develop) , medication, practical strategies, and a new non-dairy diet for yours truly, as advised by Baby J’s paediatrician, he is now doing much better.

Much. Better. It all started when he had a gold standard weekend. While the rest of Sydney was wiped out by our record heatwave on Saturday, I was positively euphoric. Baby J was content, and completely untroubled by the heat thanks to his enthusiastic nudity, constant wipe downs with a cool washer, two baths, the sea breeze and a fan. He barely cried, much less screamed, all day. The mid-morning feed seems to be the worst for him – I have no idea why – but even this failed to disturb our Saturday peace. The temptation was there to interpret his contented dozing as acute heatstroke, but one only needed to look at him to see the absurdity of such thoughts. He was just sleeping. And when he wasn’t sleeping, he was cheerful and smiling and cooing: a completely altered child. Or not altered at all. Restored.

After starting motherhood feeling supremely relaxed, I descended into the dark whorl of anxiety and exhaustion that is caring for a baby with reflux. Despite the recent improvements, I remain a little tense all the time, scarcely believing in this radical transformation of my days alone at home with him. I guess I feel I have to remain slightly on my guard, lest the worst days return. It’s not really in my nature to brace for bad tidings, who needs that, so each day that he is better, a little piece of me mends too, but the screaming was so harrowing, so relentless, that it’s harder than I thought to dismantle the grim expectation of everything kicking off again.

Have we turned a corner? I hope so. Oh, I hope so. Because he’s so lovely now his traitorous body is cutting him some slack. I feel like we’re finally getting to know him, this little person behind the red, distressed face, and he’s divine. And because now he’s not screaming all day every day, he’s actually having a couple of naps. Yes, naps (see how I’ve got you perched on the edge of your seat?! Naps, for crying out loud!). Not in his bassinet, no, no. He spurns his bassinet from 10 am daily, but he seems to know it’s bedtime when he returns to it at night, so I’ll take that as the priority, thanks very much. Anyway, a nap for Baby J  means a moment or two for me to write. Like now. He’s snoozing in his bouncer beside me, and I am madly typing with two hands while rocking the bouncer with one foot. It is a huge relief, you know, just getting something down (apologies for any errors and poor quality), because writing makes me feel well. And I’ve ended up writing about this very thing in February’s Monthly Feature for the Varuna Alumni website. It’s called ‘A room of one’s own: claiming space in a shrinking universe.’

I want to write about the maternity ward. I want to write about every day since. I want to write about the media and the floods and fires and China’s terracotta warriors and the situation in Egypt and about driving, because in amongst all this I got my driver’s licence. I want to write about reading. I don’t know where to start. I just want to write.

Thank you, my gorgeous little man, for this precious window to go about my tiny task.




  1. Pete said,

    That’s great news that he’s doing better and having naps! I can see how that word becomes absolute gold when you’re sleep-deprived and a little shellshocked at the screaming. But lovely to hear all about Baby J. Having just graduated from antenatal class (I fear we were the under-achievers with our baby who won’t turn) I’m been learning all about the health benefits of kangaroo care (skin-to-skin contact) and co-sleeping. It sounds very complex but I guess we’ll get the hang of it. And am super-impressed that you’re getting round to any reading and writing at all.

    • doctordi said,

      Funny – being from the land of kangaroos – I have never heard that expression!! Skin-to-skin, though, absolutely – they’re very big on it and you can see why. It’s lovely for parents and child. Co-sleeping is not my thing, but many people rave about it. You and L will find what works for you, Pete. And I will not offer any advice at all about anything because you’re about to get more than you bargained for whether you like it or not!!!!

  2. litlove said,

    This is all very interesting to me. We never had any particularly desperate episodes of early screaming, but the common or garden screaming was shattering enough for me, and I spend the next few years living on the edge of fear for the bad stuff coming back. And of course it does, from time to time with little ones. I admire you for your capacity to heal along with him – I think that will stand you in excellent stead in this torturous and yet overwhelmingly wonderful world of motherhood. Hugs to you all.

    • doctordi said,

      Turns out the edge of fear is very much alive and well in me, LL… two bad days and I am terrified we’re heading backwards.

  3. charlotteotter said,

    SO glad that Baby J seems to coming out the other side of screaming. My oldest didn’t reflux, which I imagine is shattering, but she had purple screaming colic for six very long very tiring weeks. Hooray that he’s napping and hooray that you’re writing.

    • doctordi said,

      I think purple screaming colic sounds like quite enough, Charlotte! The double whammy is just plain rude.

  4. David said,

    So glad the little fellow’s insides have settled down — illness and distress in babies is just so … distressing … since they know only one way to communicate, and they do it with all their might.

    • doctordi said,

      Spoke too soon, but we’ll get there eventually. Yes, it is awful for all involved.

  5. Lilian Nattel said,

    Congratulations on the driver’s license! A friend of mine’s babies had reflux, I know it’s maddening, so glad to hear that baby J is better.

    • doctordi said,

      Thanks! It feels good to have done it – and for Baby J’s sake, essential.

      I won’t lie. I am looking forward to the reflux/colic follies ending. So far no amountof booing seems to shame them off the stage.

  6. Grad said,

    I hope you can intersperse rocking the bouncer with your foot with a little rest for yourself while baby’s napping. A little cat nap is a wonderful thing in these early months. Things only get better, Di. I am so happy for the three of you!

    • doctordi said,

      Never been a napper, unfortunately… Daytime sleeps completely elude me.

  7. Woo said,

    Very glad to hear that little Baby J seems to be settling and having fewer problems with reflux, poor wee man. And thank god for naps, frankly.

    Congratulations on the driver’s licence, too! I remember feeling a little liberated and rather more daunted when I finally got mine (the thought of being in charge of a lethal metal box moving at high speed still takes my breath away whenever I allow myself to think about it).

    • doctordi said,

      Woo, that’s exactly how I feel about cars. In fact, they’re my sentiments in general, down to a tee. But I was terribly impressed with myself when I was able last week to just put Baby J in the car and GO. That felt good.

  8. bakersdaughterwrites said,

    It’s wonderful you have so many ideas – that’s brilliant! I hope you get the time to bring them all to fruition. As a fellow reluctant driver, I particularly want to hear your painful/hilarious new driving stories (the first time I got behind the wheel I managed to drive over a cliff. No, really.)

    And thank you so much for the photo of your little one the other day – what a lovely unexpected surprise when I opened my inbox!

    • Deb Rice said,

      Ah, the challenge of balancing the needs of the loves of your life… writing and family. Don’t worry, they won’t be mutually exclusive – when Baby J starts wanting to hold your pen and tap at your keyboard you’ll be both delighted and frustrated. But what a wonderful dilemma it is!

      • doctordi said,

        That sounds pretty cute! This parenting thing must make women pretty damn efficient. No wonder we are the multi-taskers of the species.

    • doctordi said,

      My pleasure! Glad you liked it. It shouldn’t be hilarious that you drove off a cliff, so why is it…?! I will endeavour to write a driving post very soon so we can compare and commiserate!

  9. Grad said,

    Loved the article, by the way!

    • doctordi said,

      You’re a doll for reading it, Graddikins – glad you liked it!

  10. Fiona Wood said,

    Congratulations on licence, Di. And you seem to be getting an amazing amount of writing done, given the circs!

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