24 Hours With An Eight-Month Old
Bbefore Max was born, I had this idea of doing a ‘Day of My Life in Pictures’ post for every month of his life (Well, for a couple of years at least: I doubt he’ll want me following him around photographing his every move when he’s 30…), so that he could one day look back, and be fascinated by the minutiae of his days as a baby – things that I’m sure even Terry and I will forget sooner or later, because there are just so damn many things to remember these days.
Of course, before Max was born, there were a LOT of things I thought I’d do when he was here. Washing my hair more than twice a week, for instance. Answering emails in the same week I received them. You know, all of those totally normal, everyday things that now seem completely and utterly impossible, because there’s now a small person clinging onto my leg all the time, and trying to use my body as a climbing frame. So, while I HAVE started those ‘Day of My Life in Pictures’ posts quite a few times now, I’ve always gotten to dinnertime and realised that, whoops, I stopped taking photos several hours ago, and there’s absolutely no hope of salvaging the situation now. GAH.
I do still like the idea of documenting random days, though, so, when I once again started doing a Day of My Life in Photos this week… and then completely forgot to actually take the photos… I thought, “To hell with it: let’s just make it A Day of My Life in Words, instead.” That doesn’t sound quite as snappy, though, so, instead, I present you with 24 hours with an 8-month-old… and the caveat that there will only be a few hours worth of photos.
So! Our tale begins at 9pm on a Sunday evening in September. Max and I both have colds, so it’s been a day of tears and tantrums … and Max hasn’t been his usual self, either, boom-boom. Honestly, though, this is the first time I’ve been ill since becoming a parent, and it’s something I’ve been living in fear of, because, well, let’s just say I’m not one of those stoic, “just get on with it,” people when I’m ill. No, I’m one of those, “Woe is me, hand me my smelling salts, for I fear I might die!” people. So, I’m basically the hypochondriac old maid from a Jane Austen novel, then. I’m also an only child with a reputation for drama, so, when I’m ill, I’m used to people crowding around, pressing cold flannels to my head, and saying, things like, “Poor Amber: maybe some wine will help?”
Yeah, none of that happens now. Because, you can’t call in sick from parenthood, and the baby needs looking after more than you do, so, as bedtime approaches, I’m very much looking forward to getting Max to sleep, so I can go to bed myself. And, at first, things are looking positive: Max is very sleepy, so Terry takes him up to bed, while I quickly tidy up the livingroom, and get a fresh episode of This is Us ready to go on the TV.
“He’s super-tired,” I say optimistically, when Terry comes back downstairs. “I’m pretty sure he’s going to sleep right through tonight!”
Five minutes later, I look at the monitor on my phone, and see this:
I go up and try to settle him, but, 30 minutes later, Max is still wide awake, and my cold now feels like it’s turning into a flu, so Terry tells me just to head to bed, and he’ll deal with Max. “If you hear him crying, don’t get up,” he says as I shuffle out of the room, feeling like my head is about to explode. “I’ve got this.”
And then I lie in bed for the next hour, listening to Max screaming in the room below, while Terry desperately tries to soothe him. I have a feeling it’s going to be a long night…
I wake from feverish dreams in which I’ve randomly decided to go back to work at the call centre I haven’t set foot in for well over a decade, to find Terry just getting into bed, having been up and down with Max for the past few hours. I’m wearing a hoodie on top of my pyjamas, and have pulled the chunky blanket from the sofa over me, but I’m still absolutely freezing: oh, and my head still feels like it’s about to explode. This does not bode well, but the blanket is so heavy I can’t actually move, so I drift back to sleep.
I wake in a cold sweat, from a recurring nightmare in which I discover I didn’t actually sit my exams when I was in high school, and must do them all now, with absolutely no preparation time. All of my muscles are aching, and my head is still about to explode… and, just to make matters worse, when I look at the baby monitor on my phone, I see that it’s pointing at the ceiling, instead of at the baby. Well, I can’t have that, so I haul myself out from under my blanket den, and stagger downstairs to the nursery. My intention – and hope – is that I’ll simply be able to re-position the camera, and then get the hell out of Dodge, but when I approach the cot and look in, I almost pass out with shock.
The Sleepyhead is empty.
Like, TOTALLY empty.
I stand and stare at it for a few horrified seconds. Maybe Terry got up without me realising and took Max downstairs? But no: I’m SURE I saw Terry in the bed when I got up, so, OMG SOMEONE HAS STOLEN MY BABY!
I’m literally – LITERALLY – just about to open my mouth to scream, when I glance down at the bottom of the bed, and realise with a rush of relief that what I’d initially thought was just the discarded cellular blanket is, in fact, Max… who has somehow managed to wriggle his way out of the Sleepyhead, and down to the very bottom of his cot. My relief at this realisation is to be short-lived, however, because when I lean forward to get a closer look at him, there’s another shock in store.
He is face down in the cot … and he doesn’t appear to be breathing.
OH. MY. GOD.
Even as I reach out to pick him up, I know I’m making a rookie mistake. Panic has set in, though, and I HAVE to be sure he’s still breathing, so I pick him up… and, of course, instantly he starts screaming in outrage, like, WHY HAS THIS WOMAN WOKEN ME UP, I WAS PERFECTLY HAPPY WHERE I WAS, I WAS SOUND ASLEEP AND NOW I’M AWAKE AND I! WILL! MAKE! HER! PAY!
I have never hated myself more.
I have taken a sleeping baby, and transformed him into a very, very awake baby. Who is NOT happy to be woken up. I could have gone back to bed and slept for several more hours… but no! Instead I spend the next hour trying to persuade Max to go back to sleep, finally resorting to making him a bottle, before he finally consents to be put back into his cot.
I put him down on his back in the Sleepyhead.
As soon as I get into bed myself, and check the video feed on my phone, I see that he has, once again, flipped onto his stomach. I’m briefly tempted to go back down and check he’s breathing again, but hey – it seems like it would be more fun to just lie in bed, WIDE AWAKE for the next hour, so, yup, that’s what I do. I’ve JUST nodded off again when the monitor crackles into life and…
It was at this point we decided it was probably time to retire the Sleepyhead. Farewell, faithful friend – you’ve served us well, but you’re now basically just something to climb on, so it’s out of the cot you go…
The monitor has woken Terry, too, so, for once, we get up at the same time (I normally do the first feed of the day, and he does the last…), and he makes some coffee, while I change Max’s nappy, and bring him downstairs for breakfast… which I THINK was baby porridge, but honestly? No idea. I mean, he’s eating Gertie the Goose here, but I’m pretty sure she wasn’t breakfast…
Once we’re all appropriately fed and watered, we get out some of Max’s toys and play for a while, before Terry takes over on parenting duties, and I go upstairs to shower and get dressed. Then we swap, and he heads to the shower, while I get Max dressed for the day…
No sooner have I gotten him into this outfit, however, than he spits up extravagantly over both his sweater and mine, and …. RASPBERRIES! He had raspberries with his porridge! And I remember this now, because I ended up having to scrub them out of his sweater, later: yay! Anyway, I change Max’s top, but have to make do with just sponging mine clean, because it’s the only clean top I have (Er, it WAS the only clean top I had, that is…) that works with my trousers, and I don’t have time to get changed, because I have a dental appointment to get to in Glasgow, and also because, although I’ve been feeling better since I got up, I’m still a bit, ‘Dead Woman Walking’ really. So, I leave the house with a damp patch on my sleeve, and a large amount of tissues hastily stuffed into the changing bag.
Spot the new Big Boy car seat! Yes, this week we formally retired our faithful Maxi-Cosi Pebble Plus (Yes, I wanted to cry…) and moved Max up to the 2wayPearl, which has more room for him, and – oddly – more room for whoever’s in the driver’s seat, because, although it’s a larger seat, obviously, it’s somehow created more space in the back of the car. What sorcery is this, I wonder? Anyway, as you can see, Max obviously approves, and, luckily, his cold doesn’t seem to be bothering him too much, so off we go.
Our plan had been to use my dental appointment as an excuse to have a bit of a wander around Glasgow, so, naturally, it’s raining when we get there, and we end up in Five Guys instead, because that’s a great idea right before an appointment with the dentist, no?
Unfortunately for Max, he gets stuck with milk and a banana, while Terry and I get stuck into burgers and fries, and he gets his revenge by repeatedly throwing every single one of the toys I’ve brought for him off the table and onto the floor. I spend most of our visit picking everything back up again, and then it’s back into the car for the short trip to the dentist. While I’m in the chair, Terry takes Max to the park across the street, where they have a fantastic time on the swing:
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Luckily for me, Max was still enjoying the swing when I came to meet them both, so I got to see this laugh for real: so cute!
Although we haven’t really done much, it seems to have taken all day, so we get back into the car to head home, and it’s at this point that I totally forget to take any more photos… yay, me!
On the way home, we stop off to see my parents for a few minutes: my mum had been in hospital that day for a check-up after her glaucoma scare earlier in the year, so I wanted to make sure everything was OK. Thankfully it was, so we leave them to have dinner, and head home to feed Max: pretty sure he had steamed veg for this meal (He’s a big fan of broccoli right now: I’m under no illusions that this will last, but it’s good while it does…), along with his milk, but honestly, the evening’s a bit of a blur after that, not helped by the fact that I didn’t bother to document any more of it on my phone: d’oh! Our usual practice, though, is for Terry and I to tag-team the rest of the day, with one person looking after Max, while the other catches up with work, and then switching, so let’s just assume that’s what happened, hmm?
What I DO remember, though, is that, by 8pm, Max was starting to get really sleepy, which I’m guessing was probably because of his cold, because he’s normally still wide awake at that time. I’d been just about to bath him, but the poor soul couldn’t keep his eyes open, so we popped him in bed, on the assumption that he’d probably just have a quick nap, and then wake up again for his bath and final bottle of the day. Sure enough, about 30 minutes later he was wide awake again, so I headed upstairs to get him ready for his bath and… MELTDOWN. Honestly, he was absolutely inconsolable, which isn’t like him: he generally only cries for a minute or two, and it’s normally because he’s either hungry or tired, but this time he just went on and on, and just wanted to be held and cuddled the whole time.
I did my best to comfort him, then Terry came up and used the nasal aspirator (We have this one, which was kindly sent to us by Snufflebabe…) to try to clear his nose, which had been alternately blocked and then runny the whole day. I managed to get him to calm down a bit by reading a couple of books with him, but he was still unsettled, so we decided to abandon bathtime for the night and proceed straight to sleepsuit and bottle – which sent him right back to sleep, thankfully.
By now it was around 9:30pm, and I was still feeling a bit rough, so I decided to just go to bed, too. There was one more surprise in store for me, though: walking up stairs, I glanced at the baby monitor, and saw that the camera was, once again, pointing at the ceiling. I decided to just pop in to Max’s room and fix it, but it was pitch dark in there, and I obviously didn’t want to switch on the light and wake him up, so, instead, I held my phone out in front of me as I opened the door, so I could see the video feed from the monitor on it, and find my way to the cot. As I walked through the door, though, I froze in absolute horror: because there, on the monitor before me, was a grotesque, ghostly figure, shining white in the dark room, and making its way towards me, looking exactly like one of the walking dead. I froze in my tracks, and had just opened my mouth to scream in horror, when the realisation hit me:
Guys, IT WAS ME.
Yup, I’d now managed to scare myself senseless just by seeing MY OWN SELF on the baby monitor, which had been pointing at the door of the room as I’d entered. Aaaaand, that’s when I decided it was time to give up on the day, and just go to bed already. THE END. Don’t forget to tune in next month, though, for 24 hours with a 9 month old: and I promise to stay away from the baby monitor this time…