Sleep Thief: A change is definitely not as good as a rest!

Sleep Thief: A change is definitely not as good as a rest!

BEFORE I gave birth to my eldest daughter I had very little experience with babies. I was the first of my friends to have children. I had no nieces or nephews. The last baby I had held was my little brother (now aged 26).  So I panicked.  How do I even change a nappy? I read books. I asked the midwife.  I went to antenatal classes and I Googled it.   So when the time came I would know exactly what I was doing…

Wouldn’t I?

When my daughter arrived she was so tiny. At 5.11lbs, I was worried that one wrong move and I might break her. So, I skived off nappy duty as much as I could. Her dad would change her during the day, and on the labour ward I would ask the nurses ‘to show me just one more time’ how to do it properly.

By the time I came home from the hospital, I had yet to change a nappy… but that night my time came.

A CHANGE WILL DO YOU GOOD…. It was 2am. After almost a week on a noisy labour ward I was almost delirious with sleep-deprivation but I knew I had to do this.

We had been told that babies should be changed before every feed and, at this point, I was following everything the midwives/books/nurses/other parents had told me TO THE LETTER. After all, they were the ‘experts’.

I laid the baby down on the changing mat and she screamed. I don’t blame her. If someone got my bare bum out in the middle of the night I would be hacked off too.

But I needed to do this. I was going in.

I carefully undid her baby grow and vest, all the time whispering quiet words of comfort. Only to find…A tiny spot of poo the size of a penny. It hardly seemed worth it! But I had come this far so I couldn’t turn back now.

She was still screaming. I needed to be quick.  Right, wipe her bum.

Damn. I had forgotten the warm water for the cotton wool balls we had been instructed to use.

I rushed off to fill the bowl at which point her screams got even louder.  I got back with the water only to find she had urinated all over herself. I left her crying again to go and get some clean clothes.  This time I returned to find she had done another poo.  But not a spot this time. An explosion. Everywhere. The baby was now seriously distressed.  I needed to get her out of that baby grow.  Which was of the over-the-head variety. (Possibly the worst invention ever).  There was literally no way to remove it without covering her face in her own poo. I would have to cut it off. With scissors. (Not sure this is what the experts would recommend).

It then took an entire bag of cotton wool balls to clean her up. At this point we were getting through at least two bags a day.

I put on her nappy and clean clothes and felt triumphant. I had done it. I’d changed her nappy and she was still in one piece!

I fed her and she fell asleep. Then for the worst part, burping a sleeping baby. Always burp the baby after a feed, they had said. I sat her up and patted her back. She didn’t burp. She rarely did. But she cried. And puked. All over her pyjamas, my pyjamas and the bed.  I swore. She cried.  Back to the mat.

I left her once again while I went in search of a clean baby grow only to find there were none left. I swore again and frantically ripped open a baby gift that looked like it could have been clothes. Nope. Muslins cloths. I opened another. More muslins.  (Why is it when you have a baby, cloths become an acceptable present? What happened to wine, flowers or chocolate for the woman who has just pushed a little human out of her.

I finally unwrap a baby grow saying I Love Mummy.  Really? Then stop throwing up all over her bed. 

NOTHING in the books warned me about the stress of the late night nappy change.

They also didn’t point out that babies sometimes wake up for NO reason.  Every half an hour, or some nights they don’t want to go to sleep AT ALL.

And THE WASHING. Why wasn’t this mentioned at antenatal classes? I seriously think if I had been made aware of the amount of washing that you have to do once you have a baby I may have reconsidered my plans to start a family.

But it did get easier. Eventually. Largely due to baby wipes. But also when I stopped trying to follow all the expert advice and learnt to trust my own instincts.

Emily-Jane Clark

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