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Cruel to be kind


Diary of a First-Time Dad
Edwin McGreal

It’s tough love for Frankie this week. And it’s tough on her parents too.
Last week she was sick. She had a bug and was vomiting for five days. It necessitated a trip to hospital too. We’d gone past the 48 hours that a bug typically lasts for, so our doctor said she would need to be admitted.
Thing was, apart from the vomiting, Frankie was mainly in good form. That’s probably what the first nurse who saw her in A&E thought too.
She was debating whether Frankie needed to go up to the paediatric ward or not. Right on cue Frankie vomited in the triage room. Actions speak louder than words, especially when you are 18 months and your only words are ‘Mam’, ‘Dad’ and ‘no’.
So up we went. After keeping her for a few hours and happy she was keeping down some milk, Frankie was sent on her merry way.
Not before having bloods taken though – a trying time for any parent. It’s just not nice having to hold your child down while a doctor tries to stick her with a needle. The helpless look that Frankie gave me, in the midst of all her screams, nearly broke my heart.
That was Tuesday evening, and the following day, Frankie was in great form again, and showing no signs of being sick.
That was until just before bedtime on Wednesday night, when she vomited again.
We were building her up slowly, with newborn baby formula, water and toast. Now, we it felt like we were down at the bottom of the hill again, like Sisyphus.
Thankfully it was just a blip along the way and she hasn’t been sick since.
But, during the days when she was eating next to nothing, we tended to spoil Frankie in other ways. She was, more than ever, looking for comfort from us, lying beside us on the couch, wanting to be lifted all the time. In a word, clingy.
Unable to give her as much food or milk as she was craving, for fear of it all coming back up, we gave her plenty of TLC instead.
Back to herself now and eating and drinking away to her heart’s content, Frankie hasn’t forgotten all the attention we bestowed on her. She was spoilt rotten, and she liked it. She reckons this is the way forward now.
Now, every time she does not get what she wants immediately, she lets a little whinge out. Or sometimes a big one. They’re very fake cries (you get very good at knowing the difference) but they can go on, with Frankie thinking she can keep crying until she gets her way.
No such luck for her. Tempting and all as it is to lift her every time she demands it, she needs to be weaned a bit from last week’s carry on. Tough love is tough on us all.

In his fortnightly column, first-time-father Edwin McGreal  charts the ups and downs of the biggest wake-up call of his life: parenthood.