[Everybody] Told Me There’d be Days Like These…

March 20, 2011 at 2:21 am (Uncategorized)

I have an hour.

Make that I had an hour: that was Thursday, and I confess I sacrificed the blog post to a few hundred words of fiction. I am trying – so incrementally it’s ridiculous– to start drafting the short story I’ve been thinking about for some time, and I used my hour to chip away at that. I haven’t even managed to read over those few paragraphs yet, but I am confident they won’t alter the course of my career. I just can’t get any traction on any writing at all. Llew’s getting home from work at about 8 o’clock most nights, so it’s a pretty long day with the little man. By the time Llew walked in the door at 8:15 Friday night, I was rigid with tension.

Baby J – and I think we’ll start referring to him as Master J, don’t you, because he’s not ‘the baby,’ he’s himself – had his 4 month vaccinations in the morning, and I could’ve really used a hand at the tail-end of the day. I hadn’t kept any of this a secret, so to be honest I was pretty livid we came in such a poor second to Llew’s work drinks (admittedly an important gathering in this instance for reasons I won’t go into here, but he still could have excused himself early and didn’t). I was exhausted. I had spent the entire day comforting Master J after his shots. When he wasn’t feeding or sleeping, he only wanted to be held upright and walked. I’ve never been more grateful for the front-pack, which took over support duties once my wrists packed it in. And boy, did my wrists pack it in.

(Have I told you what’s happened to my wrists? It’s de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis and it’s incredibly painful, so much so that at its worst I’ve been mortally afraid of dropping Master J. I’ve been wearing braces on both hands for a couple of months – around the clock – and seeing a sports physio for a number of weeks, but now both my doctor and I think it’s specialist/cortisone injection time. After all, as a friend pointed out to me only this morning, as a writer I need my wrists even more than most. And as a mother, the full use of my wrists is indispensable. Hit me.)

The day was a dog from the beginning. Llew committed the cardinal sin of waking me as he jauntily popped in and out of our room dressing for a run. He was in great spirits. He was clearly suppressing the urge to whistle. He’d had a flash of brilliance, you see: apparently 5.45 am is the perfect time for him to go and exercise. So off he danced, while I lay awake fuming. I soon gave up, got up, and got in the shower. Llew came home sweaty and happy, and changed again for a swim.

“IT’S ALL BEER AND SKITTLES FOR YOU, ISN’T IT???” I screamed from behind the shower curtain, just as the front door closed.

Llew’s mood wasn’t quite as buoyant by the time he returned. Some arsehole had badged our car in the night. We have an old Mercedes, it cost about three grand so is nothing flash, but it still sucks now it’s been vandalised. What’s worse is that as a new driver, I used the Mercedes star on the bonnet of the car as a spatial marker, and I’m afraid I’ll be lost without it. But it’s gone now, ripped off by some drunken tool.

Anyway, Llew left for work and I fed Master J. Then I popped him in the pram. I may as well tell you we’re having severe issues with vehicular transport in general. First it was the car. Now he’s also taken to screaming nonstop every time I put him in the pram. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve broken into a run to get him home as quickly as possible. Aside from this dash of desperation, I can’t get any exercise in at the moment, because I can’t even take him for that perky brisk walk you see all the other mothers enjoying.  Walking has become a totally fraught experience with Master J, so I’ve had to largely abandon it, and any time he is momentarily content in the pram, I spend the whole time poised for his always-imminent combustion. I’ve changed the seat, I’ve opened it up, I’ve dangled things, and I’ve altered his position… all to no avail. On and on he screams and flails. He loves being outside, he loves seeing what he can see, see, see, he loves trees and people, but he seems not to love being seated in such a way that he can’t see me. And I need him to be in the pram sometimes, just as sometimes I need him to be in the car. But I tell you what, all this screaming is a major disincentive to put him in either. It’s no fun at all.

I was sweating and frazzled by the time we turned up at the doctor’s, the first appointment of the day. She wasn’t there. Master J arched and twisted unhappily until he was emancipated. My wrists howled their own protest. Master J grabbed a fistful of my hair.

Eventually Dr J arrived and ushered us in. Master J decided to turn on a full display.

“Is he hungry?” Dr J wanted to know.

I wanted to shout, “NO, HE ISN’T BLOODY HUNGRY, HE’S TIRED BECAUSE HE HASN’T STOPPED CRYING SINCE WE LEFT THE HOUSE,” but I managed to simply state all this in a calm voice that didn’t betray my inner turmoil, rhythmically patting his bottom all the while. Baby J fell asleep on cue, and I felt wildly vindicated.

“SEE?” I wanted to scream. “DO YOU BELIEVE ME NOW?”

Doctor J arched an eyebrow at my sleeping baby. Ah yes. Needles. Needless to say the nap didn’t last.



  1. David said,

    I remember Elissa telling me once how horribly guilty she felt for having fantasies, occasionally, about tossing her colicky baby out a window, and/or foisting him off on some passing stranger. “Good Lord,” I said, “who *wouldn’t* have those fantasies? You don’t act on them; that’s the important thing.”

    Wishing you and Tyrant J a better day soon.

  2. Pete said,

    Wow Di, and I thought we were taking strain! Well done to you on at least getting some writing done. I really hope that Master J starts to enjoy his walks a bit more. I can relate to that breaking into a run to get a crying baby home (while she is gripping on to the pram for dear life). L says she is impressed that a) you were asleep at 5.45am; b) managed to have a shower; and c) got to the doctor on time! And I’m sure that Llew will have learned by now that it’s better to let napping wives nap!

  3. litlove said,

    Oh you bring it all back to me in vivid detail. I remember days like those – and they were particularly prevalent before we hit the three month barrier. I had a friend come and visit in the early days and we spent all our time passing my son back and forth while he screamed. She visited again (glutton for punishment) after three months had passed and he was lying in his cot, playing with his feet. ‘You’ve changed him,’ she said. ‘You’ve swapped babies.’ So it does get better (and the vaccinations are a pig – you have to think you are saving on bigger screaming in the future).

    A couple of things – I only got through by lowering my expectations completely. If we survived the day we’d done well. I put thoughts of writing to one side for a bit. And Llew is going to have to take on more responsibility. It’s good for him and for his son – the more he helps you, the more you will love him and have strength for the rest of your day. I’m really sorry if this sounds harsh, but it was my biggest mistake, not making my husband do his fair share, regardless of his work. It’s too galling to watch one’s partner saunter off to a lovely quiet day at the office and be left in the ninth ring of hell with the screaming dervishes. And if Llew complains, well, you have to share everything now,and given there’s plenty of fatigue and stress floating about, he’ll have to share that too. But honestly, he needs to bond with the baby just as much as he can because he won’t be around in the day to do so.

    Really sorry to hear about your wrists – you don’t need a handicap right now. Do hope the injections work some wonders.

  4. Lilian Nattel said,

    Litlove gave great advice–so I will just echo it and express my sympathy (for wrists, howling baby and everything) and awe that you managed to write!

  5. Woo said,

    Oh god, Di, that sounds hellish. But also as though you are pushing yourself to do too much and – with all affection for your other half – not making Llew do enough. You may need to lay some ground rules; even if he is going off to work a full day, so what? He’s doing so in a quiet and pleasant environment. Topping and tailing such a day with a nice run/swim and drinks combo, while you fight the good fight at home (wrists an’ all) will only make you resent him. Has Llew spent any solo time with Master J, for more than about an hour, so far? If not, it may be a good idea.

    And of course, I say all this from the ridiculously easy position of never having had children.


  6. Annah said,

    First of all, congratulations for getting a 4 month old to the doctor on time. I cancelled so many times as I just couldn’t get C to wake for the booked appointment time…I think she knew what she was in for!

    I get the feeling that you are probably over achieving and not quite realising it. If your “beer and skittles” outburst was the first, and only occurred at the 4 month mark…ummm, you have held out way too long young lady! I tried to do everything myself for 3 weeks (I only lasted 3 weeks!) and then woke up to the reality that my job is 24 hrs a day, and hubby’s is only 8 hrs a day, with a lovely lunch break, gym break and a nice sing-a-long to a cd of his choice, in his comfortable car to and from work each day. So the work load was a bit skewed!

    It is so important that the husband ensures you are well, in order to ensure that their child is well too. What on earth would they do if you reached your limit and where out of action for a few days..hmm..so it really is in their best interest to keep you in tip top shape! Its actually more important for you to go for a morning swim, than for him…but they just don’t realise this, until you can calmly sit them down and give them an outline of what your day actually entails, and then run them past the scenario of what they would have to take on if you were to burn out. Scare them! 🙂

    You really need a daily walk Di, so please consider purchasing a stroller that allows bub to face you, it will be worth it for the both of you. Bub cannot understand that you still exist when you are not in view (object permanence) so will tend to panic. They are such vulnerable little things, and are still adjusting to the disconnect from our bodies, even at 4 months old.

    You are doing a fab job Di…time to reward yourself….ask for that swim in the morning, you absolutely deserve it! xxx

  7. Jenny said,

    Annah is so right about the pram facing you. Have you noticed that all the older prams do that? I remember walking along with my babies, talking and smiling at them as we went. Then when the baby is old enough to be confident of your invisible presence, they can sally forth in a forward facing stroller x

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