Babies. They’re great. They have those big eyes and squidgy nappy-bums. Their cheeks are chubby and their little fingers are just beautiful.
But they’re also really bloody annoying.
Don’t get me wrong; I love my boys. Watching Ted play or Ben bat at his mobile are some of my favourite things in the world.
It’s just that sometimes those lovely moments disappear from my mind because I’m trapped behind a mist of irritation. Usually at four in the morning. That’s just a coincidence and has nothing to do with my state of mind when I’m exhausted.
Take, for instance, the late night/early morning (depending on your view) feeds. I’m awake for half an hour before Ben because his stirring-snuffles penetrate my brain. Even so, when he decides he’s waking and I pick him up instantly he still cries. I get him downstairs and I have his bottle in my hand. He still cries. “Why can’t he see that I’m about to feed him?” my brain screams. “How can he forget that we do this every. bloody. day ?”
Then there’s the puking. “Mummy!” he wails (I can speak the lingo, don’t you know?) “Mummy! I need feeding!” I dutifully make up a bottle, put something on telly to keep me awake, sit down with a muslin square and away we go. He guzzles it greedily. I pick him up to pat his back, rub his tummy, whatever he needs. He does a tiny burp. I look away. It’s like a scene from a horror film! Why would he just throw away what he’s fought so hard to be given?!
He’s desperate. He’s so desperate he tries to eat his hand. (Why do they even think that’s going to work?) I make up the bottle. Again. I go to give it to him and his fist’s in the way. I move it and the other’s instantly in its place. I try to force them both away and he stiffens like a board. He’s not moving. And then he cries because I’m not giving him his bottle quickly enough.
There seems to be a feeding theme here. And a demanding theme, too. He screams. Again he’s yelling “Mummy! Now! Nowwwww!!!!” I make up the bottle. I gather everything together. Again. I’m a pro now. He happily takes the bottle, drinks like he’s never tried milk before, and then falls asleep after an ounce. ONE OUNCE!
But, although it’s only one ounce, he’s asleep. Time to get back to bed. I carry him up, heart refilled as his little snores brush my cheeks (and, let’s be honest, just because he’s asleep. Asleep as in not awake. Not crying. Not puking. Not demanding feeding). I lay him down and swaddle him. I gaze at his beautiful little face. Then that face screws up tight, his knees curl up to his chest, his fists clench and his back arches.
I’ve fed him. I’ve got a burp out. I’ve wiped up the dribble, the sick and, recently, the snot. He’s asleep. I’m excited. I can go to bed! But he’s done a poo. A poo so big I’ve got to get him changed, by which point he’ll be wide awake and demanding the rest of the bottle he only drank one ounce of. ONE OUNCE!
But the most irritating thing of all? I can’t stay irritated. He can keep me up all night – and he regularly does – but when I see him through bleary eyes and he smiles or, heaven forbid, stays asleep, I just can’t find it in me to be cross anymore.
And I’m sure he knows it!