x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Baby changes everything

Since joining the circus of motherhood I have been thrown into the ring and have taught myself to become a champion juggler

I am the world's best multi-tasker. Since joining the circus of motherhood I have been thrown into the ring and have taught myself to become a champion juggler. This is a strange and unfamiliar concept for me. In my previous easy-going life I thought juggling meant squeezing in a trip to the supermarket before I rushed to the hair salon. Keeping two balls in the air was stressful enough. Now, if I wrote down the amount of things I do in the space of 24 hours, as tedious as most of them are, the list would run into the hundreds. Nappy changes, sterilising bottles, feeding, winding, rocking and clothes washing. Endless, menial tasks that are repeated throughout the day with no rewards, not even a new haircut, to show for it.

Now I am lucky if I even manage to wash my hair. That is a circus performance in itself. My little Charlie is strapped into his bouncy chair and is strategically placed in front of the shower cubicle. One of my hands then carries out the task of lathering up my greasy mop while the other is sporadically shoving a spat-out dummy back into the baby's mouth. If I manage to get past the conditioner stage, I shave one leg while the other foot peeps out of the cubicle to rock the bouncy chair.

Total palaver, to achieve absolute minimum grooming standards. Gosh, how life has changed. Painting my face with its daily make-up requirement is even more of a challenge. I have tried everything to keep Charlie amused while I rush through my previously hour-long routine in a matter of minutes. First I tried singing. Totally impossible while applying mascara, as I ended up looking like Marilyn Manson. Then I tried showing him the colours in my eyeshadow palette. Zero interest from my babe, other than a grouchy cry. I held my compact mirror up to his face. He turned away instantly. Surprisingly, he hasn't inherited his mother's vanity.

I did get a little smile from him after I finished. I'm not sure whether it was genuine but it made my heart glow. Until I looked in the mirror and saw I had lipstick smeared above my top lip. My baby's first smirk. Charming. I have been poring over my baby books this week in a desperate attempt to get Charlie to sleep better. Preferably for at least 12 hours a night, but I suspect that is a bit of a long shot at five weeks old.

I read an interesting chapter about the importance of not developing specific so-called sleep associations. The reason cited is that the child gets used to whichever method is used to get them to sleep and then needs it every time they go to bed. Easier said than done. Apparently, when trying to get a baby off to sleep you should never rock them, pat them or, worst of all, give them a dummy. Yeah, right. The author has clearly never survived on less night-time kip than a bat. It's a good job she can't see what's happening at night-time in our nursery.

Within three days of giving birth I had tried all three methods. At the same time. Her suggestion was that the mother should stand over the cot and talk in soothing tones to calm the baby down. Tried it for about 40 seconds at 4am. Dummy or mummy? The plastic wins every time, I'm afraid.