Getting to Grips with a Newborn sounds, stresses and shenanigans

The menagerie only becomes apparent at night, when she could convincingly be a dinosaur, an exotic creature, or a ravenous predator.

Snuffle, wheeze, squeak, harrumph, snort. The soothing sounds of our baby girl, finally fast asleep next to us, sounding a little like the cast of Star Wars opened the gates at the zoo and the whole menagerie of creatures has congregated in our bedroom. There’s the creak of the zoo gates opening, the endearing hamster squeak, the kiwi sniffling and furtling around in the undergrowth, the Chewbacca groan and the heavy breathing of Darth Vader.

So far, so cute and reassuringly normal. But then the tone shifts. Gnaw, grr, hamph, om nom nom. Is that a savage wolf next to us, gnawing hungrily on a fleshy bone? Suck, grr, nom, silence. Hang on, silence? I instantly sit up, stare at her peaceful bundle. Is she breathing? She looks so still. Gently, I poke her sleepy body. Her arms flail in a startle. Definitely still breathing. But then the face crumples. Waaaaahaaa. And now very much awake again. Oops.

If it’s not checking her breathing that wakes her, there’s a whole array of other newborn mummy fussing that does the job. Is she too hot? Shall I take her temperature? Is her sleeping bag too loose? Are her clothes riding up? Are her hands cold? I grab the thermometer, or pull at the clothes, or rebutton the sleeping bag, until, fed up with all this harassment, she is inevitably awake again. By now it’s 4am, and time to start the night-time nappy, feed, rock cycle again.

By day, a calm and peaceful baby, one of the good ones we think. She seems content in her own company, willing to burble away to herself in the pram, so far at least! But mostly she sleeps, and feeding her is an exercise in gentle and not-so-gentle encouragement, as I try to coax her to wake up and take an interest in my milk and, if all else fails, thrust a boob in her mouth while she sleeps, to see if she’ll take the bait. “How come you never do that to me, while I’m sleeping?”, laments my laughing husband.

By night, she is maniacal, a ravenous velociraptor. She is so eager for food that she frantically shakes her head and bobs wide-mouthed at my boob, getting frustrated when she misses the target. And for the next couple of hours, she will feed, nap, cry and feed again, as we look on, incredulous that a tiny baby can take on so much milk. I thought her stomach was still the size of an egg? The nipple dismount is sudden, as she pulls her head back, stretching my nipple as she goes, and audibly pops off. She lies against my chest, suddenly fast asleep, her contented face depicting her milk coma, the ultimate carb nap. Until…

Scenario 1) Vomit fountain

Out of nowhere, all that tasty milk erupts vertically out of her mouth, sprinkling her outfit, the sheets, the mattress cover, the mattress. Rookie parenting mistake number one: no muslin or waterproof mattress cover. This prompts a total strip of the bed, removal of the mattress, outfit change, washing machine on.

Scenario 2) Hiccups

Her forehead lifts, her eyes widen, a look of surprise takes hold and then - hiccup. It’s adorable. And other than the mild surprise with every little squeak, it doesn’t seem to bother her at all. As the midwife said, she’s been hiccuping in my belly for months. In an unfamiliar world, hiccups are pretty normal for little Ellie.

Scenario 3) Nappy rumbles

She lies, peacefully on my lap, as I stare at her ever-changing, sleepy facial expressions. Her body so warm against mine. Very warm actually. And moist. This gentle, sleeping baby has silently unleashed a spritz-kaka that has dribbled out of her nappy, saturated a babygro, spread through her onesie and is seeping through mummy’s jeans. The first of many little spillages, no doubt!

Parp … Rumble

Actually, it’s probably a good time to stop typing…