Darcy was 4 months old when I brought her back to my house to live. I wont go in to the details as to why she ended up with me, but she has pretty much been with me ever since. There was a strange feeling attached, like when you bring a guest into the house for the first time and feel the need to ask them if they want a tour or point out where the bathrooms are. She had obviously spent plenty of time with me before – up to this point I’d had her most weekends, but usually I went back to my parents so she could A, visit the family and B, so I had help! I never had to do it all solely on my own and as she looked up at me, obviously expecting me to do something, it occurred to me that I didn’t really know what to do next. Normally on a Sunday I would be ironing my uniform and getting my admin sorted for the following week, but as this arrangement had taken me slightly by surprise I had to make other plans. I knew that work was out of the question for a few days, I would need to get some childcare sorted for Darcy and that would take god knows how long.
For now, the immediate issue was getting her sorted for bed and getting the house a little bit more baby friendly. The good thing about a 4-month old baby is generally their mobility levels are pretty low, depending on how gullible they are, you can angle them at something bright and sparkly and buy yourself at least twenty minutes. I found her baby activity mat and set her on it, as I attempted to leave the room, she took one look at me and started to ball her eyes out. Assuming she’d rolled onto something uncomfortable (god knows how as baby mats are generally made from clouds and cushions) I went and checked it out. By the time I’d got to her she had stopped crying but I did a quick look over her area anyway. All clear, quiet again, I went to walk out. This time I got maybe a yard or two further than last time before she started crying again. She’s testing me, I’m sure of it, ok different approach. I moved her mat so she could see the TV and put on the baby channel – a channel created in my opinion for one purpose – to buy me time. Granted it meant that I was going to spend the next hour listening to renditions of nursery rhymes sung by an irritating bumble bee, but we appeared to have success. I made it out the room without her noticing. So far I had been in the house an hour and my only success is I have managed to put my child on the floor, not a hugely productive evening.
I went into the kitchen and put some water on the boil so I could make some pasta later on, and went back into the living room to witness my first cock up of fatherhood. Little did I realise, that after putting the TV on, I left the remote control on Darcy’s mat and she had rolled onto it, face first. The baby channel was long gone and some how Darcy was watching a documentary about Seal (the singer not the animal) and my remote was covered in so much saliva that to this day, the mute button has been rendered useless. Lesson learnt I suppose. Baby channel back on, time to consider getting her ready for a bath. Whilst I was comfortable being in the kitchen while she was in the living room, going upstairs to run a bath leaving her downstairs seemed a little worrying, I mean what if a badger got in? So I decided to take her with me.
This was a mistake. Everything is a million times more difficult when you have a baby in your arms. For one thing, you have to be careful not to whack her head on things. A simple enough notion for most, but as I bent down to stick my elbow in the bath (temperature testing for dummies 101) I had to manoeuvre Darcy into a counterweight position to stop me falling to the bath and avoid falling cracking her head on the sink. All things considered, I think I did pretty well, granted I could have filled the bath a little less – there was enough water in there to bathe Shamu, but Darcy was clean. I am not entirely sure at what age your allowed to use a hair dryer on a child, but it was a short lived question. Darcy answered it for me by completely losing her shit the second I turned it on so that was out the window.
Into a nappy and Babygro, next came my second cock up of the evening, I suddenly realised that I’d left the pan of pasta water on downstairs. I quickly put Darcy in her cot and ran downstairs muttering profanities under my breath and found most of my water had buggered off. I was left with just enough time to fill the pan with cold water again and put it back in the hob before I heard Darcy screaming. I tripped up the stairs (more profanities) and judging by the noise, half expected a badger to have gotten in after all. Took me ten solid minutes to work out she’d decided she disliked the stuffed monkey at the end of her bed (the same one that she had been attached to for the last 4 months). By this point I had gotten a bit of a sweat on, and needed a sit down so decided we’d have a story. At 4 months, Darcy was a bit young to understand what’s in her stories and can’t sit up yet. Nevertheless, she seemed to settle down when I started to read, so we cracked on with ‘Each Peach Pear Plum’. A bit beyond Darcy’s years maybe, but she had a great time teething on the corners of the pages. The evening, for Darcy as least, finishes with a bottle or warm milk, I had to endure some more screaming as I left her to go and sort the bottle, but I looked to be on a winner as she settled into my arms with her bottle and started to look a bit dosey. Warm milk to a baby is like whisky to an old boy. After a about minute of knocking it back they go into a sort of stupor and look utterly content with the world. Darcy actually seemed to fall asleep with the bottle teat hanging out her mouth. Wishing I could have left it there, I had to lift her into a seating position in order to burp her, she seemed fine for a minute or so, until she jumped out of her stupor and threw up an entire cow. Baby sick always stinks of expired dairy products, and its gross. Feeling like a little bit of my soul had been taken from me, I got Darcy undressed again wiped her down with baby wipe and took her nappy off. In what can only be described as a planned, organised attack, sure enough, there was a gooey turd staring up at me from the nappy. To recap, I now have one screaming baby, a sick covered onesie, a crap filled nappy and very little will to live.
Once I’d changed the nappy, got her into a new Babygro and settled her down, I put her in the cot with a dummy in. Thankfully it didn’t take her long to drift off. Looking at the clock I realised it was now after ten, I hadn’t done any of my kit, or sorted any of my admin. I had just enough time left to leg it downstairs to find that once again, all my pasta water had gone. A small taste of things to come, my first evening alone with Darcy went swimmingly.