Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Welcome To The Sofa

Welcome to the world, little baby. Welcome back mum. And welcome to the sofa, dad. It’s where, if you have any sense, you’ll be spending quite a bit of time over the next few weeks.

I’m not just talking about chatting to visitors or dandling the wee one on your knee. No, I’m on about the twilight hours of the morning when the baby wakes for the fourth time in a night and you really need to get a solid couple of hours of sleep before the alarm goes off for work.

The sofa is your refuge, your own quiet space. If you’re really lucky, you’ll have a spare room far enough away from the baby’s nursery not to be able to hear the particularly piercing wail emitted by the hungry newborn who thinks he’s been abandoned to the wolves. If not, it’s the sofa for you, my man.

Your wife may well decide it’s less troublesome to have the baby in your room. She may even feed the sprog in bed. Forget trying to sleep through that. The combination of sighs, suckles, kicks and shhh’s will make it absolutely impossible.

So get the hell out of there. Go west, young man. Fetch a spare duvet and a pillow and run away to the sofa. Don’t feel guilty. It’s about survival. You need sleep. You’re probably working harder than you ever have before on far less energy than normal. And now would be a really bad time to lose your job. You need the sofa. You know it makes sense.

But don’t think it’s all one-sided. Your poor partner will probably be even more knackered than you. If she’s breastfeeding on demand then she’s getting up every single time the baby wakes, which can be five or six times a night for half an hour. After each feed, it could take twenty to thirty minutes to settle the baby off to sleep again. It doesn’t take Einstein to figure out there’s not much time left for her to actually sleep.

That’s where the sofa comes in again. Once in a while the baby should join you in the living room. Let mum keep the bed. She needs the sleep more than you, believe it or not. You sleep on the sofa, the baby in its basket or cot next to you, or just on a blanket on the floor.

If you’re bottle feeding the baby, or if your wife can express some milk into a bottle, you can do the hideous 3am feed. Even one or two nights off a week will give her a chance to recover enough to function the following day.

Although at the time it feels like it’ll go on for ever, this tricky sleep-deprived time really only lasts a little while. For me it was about two months.

Of course you’ll miss the warm embrace of the Mrs during this time. And she’ll miss yours. But don’t worry that you’re missing out on anything else. She won’t want you anywhere near her for a good few weeks yet.

So, as she cradles the new little love in her life, you can give in to yours. There is no love on earth like the love between a man and his sofa.

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