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Rockabye baby


Diary of a First-Time Dad
Edwin McGreal

Before you have a baby, you operate your day by the clock. Hour by hour, morning, afternoon, evening and night.
When you have a baby, that all changes. There are two very simple time zones. Baby’s awake and baby’s asleep.
While many people will tell you babies should be in a routine and you ought to be able to plan for when they are awake, theory and practice are not regular bedfellows when it comes to newborns.
Our first night home with Frankie was a dream. She went to bed at 1am and slept right through until 8.30am. But dreams aren’t real, and neither was this.
We were quickly advised that five hours is the longest you can leave a breastfed baby without a feed, and so since then it has been a case of trying to get into a routine in which we, the parents, are in charge and Frankie follows our lead.
Easier said than done.
She has been, thankfully, a very good sleeper during the night, typically going down at 11pm or midnight, requiring one feed during the night, going straight back to sleep and waking again at 8am. There have been one or two nights that have been more testing than that, but, by and large, she sleeps well when we most need our sleep.
During the day is a different story though! Last Tuesday Frankie was awake from 10.30am to 5pm. Everything we tried to cajole her to sleep failed. A formula top up, changing the nappy, no good. She was having none of it.
Last Thursday we were in the hospital for the routine hearing test. Trouble was, they needed Frankie to be fast asleep in order to conduct the test, and Frankie was, again, not in the mood for sleep.
The appointment was at 8.30am. Two hours later, after a feed, a change and enough rocking to sell out a second Guns ’n’ Roses concert, Frankie was still wide awake.
There was nothing for it but a spin in the car. Off we set, out the Westport road as far as the main Islandeady turnoff, back into town and out to Turlough on Mission Get Frankie to Sleep. The motion of the car worked its magic and Frankie appeared to be in a deep sleep as we drove back into the hospital.
But literally as I pulled up the handbrake, her eyes opened. At this stage we did not know who was more stressed out, us or the two staff members in the Audiology Department. About half an hour later, Frankie finally gave in, the test was conducted, passed with flying colours, and we were on our way.
It’s a learning process and you do have to find your own way. We’ve had plenty of advice and a lot of it has been helpful. The downside, though, is that you could ask the same question of two different mothers and get completely contradictory answers.
So it’s like trying to get a mix of advice from people and books, factoring in your own take on things and the unique traits of your baby and trying to get the right blend.
I’ll let you know when (or if) we stumble on it.

In his new fortnightly column, first-time father Edwin McGreal will chart the biggest wake-up call of his life: parenthood.