Feeding: Every three hours, like clockwork.
Sleeping: Whenever she's not feeding.
Aimee's key symptom: Aches and pains all over, but smiles on her face!
Comparable to: Being in a car accident, or being put in the tumble-dry for two days.
Developed this week: A brand-new mummy and daddy!
It's December 10th, 2am, I'm half-naked (top half, for the record), walking in circles around the coffee table in the living room with an eight pound, twelve ounce fire engine over my
left shoulder, and I've just had my first moment of Oh my God, this is my baby.
After the birth, even though I watched Charlie come directly out of Aimee, I may have known she was mine, but I don't think I had any sort of grasp of what it represented, or
what followed from that. You can own a book, or a blender, or even a cat, and for the most part they take care of themselves. You
just bring them home, find a nice spot for them, and let them do their own thing. (I have owned all of these things in the past, and I can definitively say that a book is much
easier to care for than a baby. Or a cat, for that matter.)
Even once we were moved to the Maternity Ward, baby in tow, there still wasn't a sense of ownership or responsibility for me. She sat in her cot (a hospital-issue plastic babyquarium)
when she was happy, and flopped over my shoulder when she cried (until the midwives came in and told me whatever I was doing was wrong), but still, she was more of an ornament than
In a way, Charlie belonging to me was a bit like a super-fast computer belonging to my mother: poke at it with moderate confidence and hope it does what you want (smile/solitaire),
but with a heavy underlying fear of poking the wrong thing and having it cry/crash. And calling support (midwives/Danny) every few hours to make sure that the thing you
think you're doing right, you're still doing right.
But see, Aimee and Charlie were in the hospital for three days, but I got kicked out promptly at 8pm every night (can you believe that dads are classed as mere "visitors"?). The nights
of December 7th and 8th, I left the hospital alone, boarded the train and was welcomed home by an empty house. I'd upload a handful of photos of the day's events, and go to bed, only to wake up
the next morning and make the trip back up to the hospital all over again. A bit miserable, though in hindsight I did appreciate the sleep. And again, it was like I was visiting somebody
else's baby. Sooner or later Aimee would come home and we'd have an typical, average weekend.
But then Aimee did come home (after waiting seven hours for the only pediatrician on an overpopulated maternity ward to pick up our baby, turn her around a few times and say, 'Yep, she's good to
go,' and then another two hours for a midwife to fill out our discharge papers). Aimee came home, and brought Charlie with her. Sweet, adorable Charlie, in her little brown stripey jumpsuit, who
slept the entire ride back from the hospital, woke up and nodded her approval at her new lodgings, then fell asleep the moment she put into her bassinet.
Until now. This moment. December 10th, 2am, shuffling around the coffee table.
This is the moment that realisation sets in. I am her dad. She is my daughter. She is my responsibility.
When I'm holding her and making googly moogly baby sounds and she starts to cry, I can't hand her off to the parent, because I am the parent. When a malodourous stench eminates from her
enviromentally-friendly eco-nappies, I can't pass her off to be changed, because that's my malodourous stench (by proxy). When her head starts bobbing back and forth, and she
makes little suckling motions with her mouth, I can't hand her off to— well, actually, in this case I can.
Now when I wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of a baby crying, that baby is mine. When my first thought is, "Who's the idiot parent in the neighbourhood just letting their baby scream, ruining
my beauty sleep?", my second thought now must be, "Oh. Me. I am that idiot parent." And then I get up, put on some Jack Johnson, and start our rigorous baby exercise program of laps around
the living room.
And I love every second.
I have never been so glad to be home in my entire life. It's been a crazy ride these past four days. The labour story you already know. What you don't know is that I've spent the last three days in a place I would be happy to never see again - the postnatal ward in a North London Hospital. When we were pregnant, I learned that our hospital had a policy of releasing new mothers after only six hours. This seemed like an insanely short span of time. Now I know better and I would have LOVED to have left after six hours.
As it turns out, there is a lot I didn't know at the time. For starters, I didn't realize how truly beaten-up I would feel after being in labour for so long. If labour is like a marathon, this has made me have second thoughts about running one. What with the epidural pain and the episiotomy, I was barely able to hold Charlie, let alone be her sole carer.
Which leads me to my other shock - that fathers are not allowed to stay overnight in the ward. Even if you offer to pay for a private room. This borders on the insane. Here I am, totally incapable of even thinking a clear thought, feeling as though I've been in a car wreck, and my husband who is merely tired and slightly emotionally exhausted - but in much better shape than I am - isn't allowed to stay to help me take care of Charlie. Instead, I'm left alone in a ward with three other women who are all trying to learn how to be mothers while doped up on pain killers and bleeding all over the place. Surely, husbands would be a handy thing to have around at this point?
I really needed Kev those three days. Not only was he an extra pair of hands to snuggle Charlie, help change her diapers, bring me water and just generally help me stumble around, but he was a confidence booster. It's one thing to not know what the heck you're doing on your own, but it's somehow much more reassuring if there's two of you that don't know what you're doing.
The first night without Kev wasn't as bad as I thought (the second night was much worse than I ever could have thought!). I was still hyped up from hormones and not feeling too many of the aches. The amazement at having a new baby was enough to keep me awake gazing at her while she slept. The next morning rolled around and I not only began to feel the effects of no sleep, but I also started noticing the poor treatment that many women on the ward were receiving from the midwives.
To put it bluntly, the midwives were evil. They generally undertook a harassing attitude and bullied several mums. In many cases, women were struggling to learn how to breastfeed and they were spoken harshly to about how they were doing it wrong or told that they should top up with formula. In one case, a woman who had had a c-section and whose little boy was in intensive care was told that if she didn't get out of bed to see him, she was a bad mother.
I wasn't the receipient of this treatment myself - being the oldest new mum on the ward perhaps they wanted to pick on the younger ones? Kevin didn't escape though. At one point he was holding Charlie and trying to get her to stop crying. The midwife promptly asked him what he had done to her to make her cry. Another time, he tried to take her for a walk to wander the halls and was told to put her back in her crib. We put it down to them not really trusting dads, which is another reason they aren't allowed to stay!
It wasn't until the third day that Charlie was given the all-clear and we were allowed to call Helen to bring us home! I've read that a lot of people feel strange bring their baby home from the hospital - as though they're taking something that isn't theirs. I didn't have that feeling - I felt as though we were escaping from a low-security prison - bad food, alarms going off every twenty minutes, mean wardens and a parole board.
|What does 'Tivoli' mean?
We've received a stack of emails asking where we found the name Tivoli (TIV-oh-lee) , so we have to assume there are others out there who are curious, but not inquisitive.
During our first trip to Europe together, we spent a few days in Copenhagen. Smack in the middle of downtown Copenhagen, there's a fairground/show stage/garden/fun park called
Tivoli Gardens, open year round with acrobats and rides and performers and musicians... we went there every night just to wander around. So when we found out Charlie was a
girl, we thought, wouldn't it be great to name her after a fun park?
|What does 'Charlie' mean?
While still in the hospital, we received a "complimentary overnight pack", which, upon opening, we realised was more of a "complimentary promotional pack". Honestly, do you really need
two litres of fabric softener in an overnight bag?
Amongst these goodies was a stack of other baby related leaflets (catering to the low-hanging fruit), one of which was What does your baby's name mean for £15.95? To display
the product, they'd chosen the sample name "Charlie", as a girl's name, likely picked because who the heck would name their girl Charlie? Lucky for us!
As it turns out, 'Charlie' means "little woman born to command", which fits into our plan of her achieving the status of UN Secretary General by the time she's 10.
|Who won the contest?
Who is this mysterious mafioso? Why, it's...
...not only the Best Neighbour A Beimers Could Have, but also the winner of the When's-The-Baby-Due Guessing Game Contest Poll
Thing from Week 35! Congratulations!
Okay, so his answers don't seem THAT close, but thank goodness we laid down the ground rules on the contest page, or else his wife Laurel would have been right up our asses
with the rulebook. Where Cliff scored most was the NAME category, which was really a shot in the dark, but we calculated by the first letter of each name... he was one letter off
I guess we'd better buy him a nice prize, since the last time he won one of our contests he and his family won the privilege of doing everyone's dishes. Not pleased.
Interesting Contest Stats...
|Top 5 Scores:
|Crystal K. &
|Cliff K., Mark C., Jim J.
|Interesting and Unique Names:
|Most popular names: