Four years ago I climbed Ben Nevis which afterwards in my exhausted state I described as the ‘biggest challenge of my life’ and no heartthrob millionaire could get me back up. After my first experience of teething I realise that Nevis was a blissful stroll on a Maldives beach as I board the 10:16am train to Fort William.
From an early age Joel realised sleep wasn’t overrated and we were very careful not to smugly declare this. Deep down I realised that just like Trump’s administration this can quickly change. Beautifully timed with my husband’s return to work, Joel started waking up between every two to three hours screaming.
On the first night, my husband and I woke up to our howling pre-midnight awakening with a fright. We then gave each other the puzzled ‘who’s at the door when we’re both in?’ kind of look and decided to investigate. Lying in the cot was our rosy cheeked little boy drooling worse than I do at Murray’s the Bakers shop window as he chewed his hand. I quickly picked up our wee zombie and gave him a cuddle and he soon drifted off back to dreamland.
Then just as I thought it was safe to resume my eyes closed mouth open position - the crying started again and again and again. The cherry on the tired cake that night was the toe stubbing at the end of the bed as I debated if it was selfish to go to the toilet before checking my crying baby. My bladder won that night as I decided my husband could probably only deal with one person just now wetting themselves.
It felt like overnight our contented wee boy had been swapped with this mini Mr Hyde.
The next few nights were our Groundhog day and I found myself following the newborn routine of sleeping when he slept. It felt like overnight our contented wee boy had been swapped with this mini Mr Hyde.
With each heart-breaking cry I felt more and more helpless that I was struggling to help the pain. To add extra worry on the second night he had rolled onto his front for the first time and freaked out as he couldn’t quite roll back with his sleeping bag on. My husband came up with the idea of getting him to practice in the day how to roll with it on so it would help reduce the amount of times he was up and it actually worked.
I realised that it was time to call in that woman who you should never shove off a bus – Granny. Because sometimes even Mummy needs her own Mummy cuddle. Promising tea and biscuits in exchange for words of wisdom, I felt better after a huge moan and a release of tired tears even after protesting everything was fine. I’m hoping I’ve inherited this magical Mother’s intuition - as I never got her slim physique - it only seems fair. I remember once being told “if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry” but sometimes a good cry is the best coping mechanism our hormones give us.
Feeling refreshed, I started speaking to friends for hints and tips about surviving the rest of this hellish week. Just like the previous stages of parenthood, everyone has had different experiences. My friend Amy reminisced about her rushing to Tescos at 2am like a superhero in her pyjamas to get teething gel for her little boy, Wonder Woman has nothing on her!
After hearing from quite a few people that their little ones breezed through the first stage of teething, I felt slightly deflated and started questioning not only what I had done wrong in a previous life but what to do next. Speaking to another friend Sarah - who is now going through her second child teething and is finding it isn’t any easier the second time around - told me:
“the nappies, the sleepless nights, the clingy, whinging ratbags they turn into …. It’s all horrific. You just have to cling on for dear life and remind yourself that it is horrible for them and it will pass in time…. until the next set come in”.
I found myself reassured from Sarah’s wise words that things would improve and that there will eventually be light at the end of our weary tunnel.
I realised that it was time to call in that woman who you should never shove off a bus – Granny
Suggestions of teething toys in the freezer helped to distract through the day but didn’t help at night. Despite buying every teething toy I could find during my weekly shop, it failed to prevent him chewing the remote control, my mobile and my nose. It got to the stage where with my Rudolph red nose I would let him chew away on whatever letting his immune system blossom on the germs and the Bonjela binges commence.
A lady from my slimming group kindly suggested using whisky but I ended up with a really sore head and Joel was still in pain. It wasn’t until we started using Ashton and Parsons Infants’ Powder, that Joel started sleeping through the night again. After the first night we didn’t celebrate in case he didn’t the next night. Getting that continuous full night’s sleep that week had us feeling invincible and not even the news of increased gas and electricity bills could bring us down.
Just like any horror film, the teething introduced a sequel - instead of a crazed lunatic in a mask - we got eye watering teething nappies that exploded up Joel’s back. My husband and I looking like a couple of bank robbers as we cleaned his red bottom with our tops pulled up covering our noses. I soon discovered that as someone with natural long nails that even nail brushes don’t work and I ended up having to cut my nails.
Changing nappies was never our favourite activity but after the fifth clothes change that day, we soon found ourselves pulling out the old ‘rock, paper, scissors’ desperately trying to avoid having to change the next one. Although sometimes, I found that the art of nagging also does the trick as years ago my eyelashes’ flutter stopped having any effect on him.
Whilst getting his nappy changed Joel always has that panic that his 'wee Joel' has fallen off, so as I’m cleaning up, his hands are getting involved too... I’m having to hold his hands up now, but he’s determined to get them back down, and before I know it we always end up recreating that scene from Ghost with our own pottery wheel of faeces. The Unchained Melody in the background is replaced by my panicking husband asking if I’ve left my wedding ring on and I’m screeching back my unconcern about the ring as Joel is now covering me in urine.
With the amount produced being 'The Magic Porridge Pot kind of never-ending', we decided to temporarily change his diet to try and harden things up. (How times have changed and now since having a baby it is socially acceptable to discuss an individual’s bowel movements in so much detail as if we’re talking about the weather!). I introduced baby rice and bananas for a few days but we noticed little difference and some of his vests were so badly ruined I ended up having to throw some of them out. It soon dawned on us that the best thing to do instead of worrying was to let it run it’s course like we would do with ourselves. Eventually poo-gate came to an end and to celebrate I pushed the boat out and read my book till midnight.
Since our awful holiday to Tenerife in 2014 staying in a cheap Fawlty Towers hotel with brussels sprouts for breakfast, I always believed nothing else could compare to that horrible week. When you’re used to getting a full night’s sleep and a laid back baby, it’s a shock to the system when it changes quickly.
Although we kept reminding ourselves it wouldn’t last forever, it’s difficult to keep calm and parent on when you’re desperate to sleep and can’t do much to soothe your child’s discomfort. Watching Joel smiling showing off his gorgeous new teeth getting lovely compliments from everyone I do feel proud that our baby is moving to this next stage and is progressing well.
Tears have now been replaced with happy babbling and Daddy is even letting us play Baby Shark without a single grump or adding any rude words to it. Blowing raspberries on his giggling cheeks, my horrified eyes widen after spotting the white bumps on his top gum as I reach for the holy water in preparation for round two.
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