Here is the story of my first overnight stint as a solo parent. I’ve included the details of everything except the nappy changes – nobody wants to relive those.
0500 – 0600: Hattie and Joe wake up at 0510 and I feed them together in the living room. While we’re feeding Tristan leaves for an overnight trip to Wanaka, after first letting Tui out for a wee. Both babies go back to bed easily at 0600.
0600 – 0700: I eat some cereal, have a shower, put on a load of laundry, and go back to bed for an hour or so.
0700 – 0800: Hattie and Joe are up for another feed at 0750.
0800 – 0900: Hattie finishes her feed much more quickly than Joe, which is normal – she seems to be a more efficient feeder, and she feeds on the right hand side, which is nicknamed my ‘turbo boob’ because of its fast milk flow – and has a nap on the cushion next to me for half an hour.
0900 – 1000: Tui is desperate for a walk, but I’m faced with a major logistical difficulty: the buggy has a flat tyre. I do have an alternative form of transport, though: the double Snap and Go, which is a very basic trolley thing that enables you to ‘snap’ in the babies’ car capsules. They’re positioned one behind each other, making the Snap and Go a long and very unwieldly vehicle to drive, like a supermarket shopping trolley with dodgy wheels, but it does enable me to transport the babies when they fall asleep in the car. It seems stupid to put them in their capsules just to go for a walk from the house (and they’ll probably scream if I try it), so I decide to drive them and Tui to a nearby park, with poor Tui sharing boot space with the folded-down Snap and Go.
1000 – 1100: Joe falls asleep in the car and Hattie nods off just after we get to the park, so I wheel the Snap and Go into the shade of a nearby tree, cover them in muslins, and play fetch with Tui.
Hattie wakes up after half an hour, just as we get home, but Joe is still fast asleep, so I leave him in his capsule and put him in the bedroom.
1100 – 1200: Hattie has woken up hungry, so I give her an extra feed. She and I cuddle and watch tv.
1200 – 1300: Joe finally wakes up at 1225, after sleeping for two hours and ten minutes. This is awesome: of the two babies, he’s the one most likely to get over-tired and grumpy in the evening, so it’s great when he gets lots of daytime sleep. Both babies have their lunchtime feed.
1300 – 1400: TV watching and general baby wrangling. Hattie catches a nap for 45 minutes: she’s becoming a big fan of these ‘sleep cycle’ naps during the day.
1400 – 1500: more TV watching and general baby wrangling. Hattie falls asleep again, this time on the sofa, and Joe falls asleep as well, on me. It’s like being pinned to the sofa by a tiny baby furnace.
1500 – 1600: I’m still surrounded by sleeping babies.
1600 – 1700: everybody wakes up for the late afternoon feed, and then our neighbour, Linda, comes over to help me with baths.
1700 – 1800: Hattie makes the bath routine slightly more prolonged than usual by weeing in the water and forcing me to refill the bath before Joe takes a dip. Linda’s presence stifles my bath time singing urges slightly. Hattie gets put to bed and I take the opportunity to take Tui outside for a quick game of fetch. We then put Hattie to bed, and Linda heads home.
1800 – 1900: Hattie wakes up from another 45 minute nap, so I give both babies a top-up feed in the hopes that they’ll get sleepy enough to settle. It doesn’t work. Sarah, my other neighbour, comes over to take Tui into temporary foster care – she was due to stay with Sarah from Wednesday anyway, so it makes sense to send her next door sooner and ensure that she’s with people who have time to do things like let her out for a wee.
1900 – 2000: while I’m juggling two wailing babies I get a text from Tristan: he had his flight times wrong and leaves Queenstown tomorrow at 4ish, and not at 2ish as he’d previously told me. Awesome.
2000 – 2100: the babies seem to be ravenous, so I give them their last feed just before 2100. I know that this probably guarantees me at least two night feeds, but at this point I’ll do anything for a few minutes of silence.
2100 – 2200: both babies feed until they’re virtually asleep, which gives me a chance to finish watching My Kitchen Rules. Hattie gets zipped into her ecoCocoon straight away and is fast asleep in her cot within five minutes. While I’m putting her to bed I leave Joe lying on the sofa, zipped in his ecoCocoon, and he expresses his opinion of this indignity – being left there like a trussed up Christmas turkey – by spilling a sizeable quantity of milk all over his cocoon, the sofa, and me. Blessedly, he doesn’t manage to get any on his pyjamas, so I swaddle him with a wrap and give him a cuddle. He wails loudly for 15 minutes, as is his wont, and, when he seems to be asleep I put him down in his cot. His eyelids snap open and his telltale squashed tomato “how DARE you” face scowls at me, so I immediately concede defeat and take him back to the living room before he disturbs his sister.
It seems likely that some kind of gentle sleep training of the ‘leave the baby to yowl for a few minutes, with frequent visits and verbal reassurance’ variety will work well with him in the near future – he almost always has a good screech before nodding off – but it’s tricky when we don’t want to wake up Hattie. I think she may have to move in to our room with a portacot for a while when the time comes.
2200 – 2300: Joe finally falls asleep on my shoulder after another ten minutes of yowling, so I put him to bed. He wakes up again a few minutes later, but is obviously ready for a proper sleep and only gurgles a bit, so I give him gripe water for his hiccups and otherwise leave him to it.
I finally put half of today’s second load of washing into the drier, brush my teeth, strip off my milk-covered clothes, use a baby wipe to dab at the split milk on the sofa, marvel – not for the first time – that baby wipes can simultaneously be gentle enough to wipe babies and strong enough to remove virtually any substance from a sofa cushion, and go to bed (first removing the unfolded clean washing from the bed). In a meagre attempt to find some solace in my solo status, I decide to sleep slap bang in the middle of the bed. I write ten minutes of this blog entry, and then turn out the lights at 2250. Please, babies, give me at least three hours of sleep…
2300 – 0000: all three of us sleep.