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Dublin: 6 °C Saturday 20 December, 2014

Column: 8 things I’ve learned since I had my daughter

Interesting bodily functions, superhuman strength, and becoming my own mother – Siobhan Corcoran has a few lessons to pass on.

Siobhan Corcoran

Siobhan Corcoran writes a letter to her daughter about the things she has learned since she gave birth to her:

1. White noise is amazing

WHEN YOU WERE about a month old you had colic. You will only really know how badly we felt for you when you have a little baby yourself. Every evening for a couple of hours you cried. And cried and cried and cried. You cried until your little face turned red, then white and then red again and your soft little hands balled up into tight little fists. We walked you around, swayed you about, swaddled you tight, sang to you softly,drove you around, stripped you down, held you close skin to skin, tried a dummy, tummy to mummy. And still you cried.

Then one night I downloaded an album of white noise from iTunes (officially the best €8.99 I’ve ever spent) and we put it on loudly in the dock over the fireplace. Immediately your little brow unfurrowed, your jaw loosened and the loud screaming simmered to a gentle sighing. The white noise was the sound of waves breaking and for the next three to four weeks myself and your father became accustomed to long nights of sea sounds and dim lighting as we took turns pacing the floor to keep you calm. (Refer also to point four.)

Incidentally, I later learned I needn’t have spent €8.99 at all, as the extractor fan in the kitchen, my hairdryer, the dishwasher and washing machine all have the same effect on you. You weirdo. You lovely little weirdo.

2. Shopping is completely different

The money I used to waste in Boots was usually on wildly unwearable shades of nail polish, all manner of serums and travel versions of nearly everything in my bathroom. All of these items are fun to buy, but predictably never got used apart from gathering dust in a drawer. It’s all changed now though. Every trip is leaving a sizeable dent in my wallet; oodles spent on such dull necessities such as nappies, wipes, lotions and potions for nappy rash and cradle cap. These items are neither fun nor impulsive, but give me great joy and relief to see you benefit from them.

I may however, be a little tempted to try out a wildly unwearable shade of nail polish on you and marry the two worlds… just a heads up.

3. Walking the tightrope of worry has become a way of life

  1. Are you too hot? No, now you’re too cold.
  2. Do you need a hat? Ahhh ! Is the hat itching you? It is. Will we take it off? Oh then you’ll be cold.
  3. Everything must be clean. But not TOO clean – we need to build up your immune system.
  4. You haven’t had a poo today. Oh dear now that’s a very runny nappy, I hope you’re not getting the runs.
  5. You haven’t eaten much today.I hope I’m not over feeding you…

Sadly I’m told this never ends.

4. I am physically stronger and more flexible than I ever thought possible

It is possible, actually, it’s necessary, to learn to do absolutely everything with one hand and no sleep: making bottles, making tea, filling the dishwasher, hanging out clothes, drying my hair. Anything and everything with you on my hip and my eyes falling out of my head.

I started combing my hair with a toothbrush one morning.

5.  Parents are to new babies as Gollum is to the Ring

I have been with you from the very beginning, the very nauseous beginning. I’ve known every poop, fart, wee, feed and burp you’ve done. I’ve leaped out of the bed to check on you in the cot everytime you’ve simply sighed in your sleep.

I think about you all day. I dream about you at night. I almost miss you while you sleep beside me. I stare at you. A LOT. I think you are wonderful.

Your father might I add, is equally obsessed with you. He just manages to look a lot cooler in the process.

6. I am slowly becoming my mother

I first noticed it when I licked a tissue to clean carrot off your nose. I recoiled in horror! Did I just do that?

Now I’ve relaxed into it, allowing the metamorphosis to take place. I casually muse on how to get clothes dry in this weather, and who is on the Late Late this week. There’s no point in fighting it.

7.Your body clock readjusts.

Previously my main concerns in the wee hours of a Saturday  morning was which Nitelink I needed to get home and trying to remember to leave a pint glass of water beside my bed for when I woke up parched at 6.30am before returning to slumber till 12pm. I wake with you now at 4am and 7am every day (and more frequently when you’re on a “growth spurt”) You don’t understand daylight savings time AT ALL.

8. My handbag would do MacGyver proud

I now routinely carry a scissors, wipes, Vaseline, a fresh babygro and bib, safety pins, dummy, spare dummy and innumerable other bits and bobs around.  There is no situation too tricky…or messy.

Read: Column: Breast feeding? Nobody tells you about the bleeding nipples>

Read: Column: 11 things nobody tells you about giving birth>

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