The healthcare industry uses a lot of euphemisms.
You’ll be familiar with many of these: A doctor will tell you “this may sting a bit,” right before jabbing you with a six-inch needle. The warning label on your prescription will mention “some side effects,” which might include stroke, heart attack or seizures. Getting a private hospital room might cost “a little extra,” also known as half your annual salary.
Then there is this one: “Enjoy your new family!” This seems to be the universal sign-off phrase for anyone who works on the maternity ward, or in the emergency department. Some examples:
NURSE: Now then, let’s see… oh yes, girl, 8 lbs 7 oz, oooh a big one … hard and fast labour… so how do we feel?
NURSE: Ah, well that’s good. Enjoy your new family!
DOCTOR: So what seems to be the problem?
ME: I haven’t slept in two weeks, I’m running a fever, I have a migraine, I have a case of the shakes and…
DOCTOR: Hmph. I’ll send a nurse in for some tests. Meanwhile, enjoy your new family!
My grandmother once said that “One child takes up all your time, so two can’t take up any more.” I took comfort in this thought, figuring that while running a business and raising our firstborn son had been challenging, there might be some efficiencies to be gained in having more. After all, we had all the gear already, we had some experience under our belt and so on.
Bwa ha ha ha ha ha.
It turns out Grandmother’s Law is actually an exponential relationship. That is, if one child takes up all your time, then two take up four times as much. You don’t even want to know the math for four children.
Part of the problem is that no two kids are alike. My firstborn hated taking naps, but didn’t sleep through the night properly if he didn’t get one. The second child ate like a horse; but if he got too empty he was an incredibly burpy kidlet, and you ended up spending so long burping him after a feed that it was time to feed him again. Yes, it’s true — I had one child that didn’t sleep unless well-rested and another that didn’t like to eat on an empty stomach.
The other problem is keeping up with the housework. My toddler isn’t a fussy eater, but has the uncanny ability to disintegrate even the moistest muffin into a minimum of 4,996,085 crumbs. I swear there is more muffin scattered around her chair than what I gave her.
Meanwhile, anyone who tells you that babies pick favourite foods based on texture is talking nonsense. They choose foods based on colour and range. Pureed carrots, for instance, when distributed with a good hard “Pthththththththb!” can spatter across 75% of the dining room and make a particularly giggle-worthy pattern on mummy’s shirt.
I’m coping, mostly. The older tots are dragooned into helping at every opportunity.
I’ve developed a tidy-as-you-go approach to travelling through the house. Going through the kitchen? Grab an armload of dishes and herd them into the sink. Potty training? Scrub out the tub while waiting. I’m considering strapping mop heads to my shoes. I’m also thinking about converting to Hinduism, because the deities are often depicted with a second set of hands, and goodness knows I could use that.
For now though, I’m getting incredibly proficient in doing things with just one hand while holding a kid with the other. This column is a good example — I bett you didn’t reaalize I typd it one-handerd. And as for sleep, well I’m getting a little and if I could ever get a chance to drink more than half a cup of coffee at a ….. zzzzzzzzz.
Snortmumblewah? What was I saying? Oh yes.
I’m enjoying my new family.