4am: I can’t sleep. I’ve been awake since about 1am with a million thoughts stampeding through my mind.
It’s the day of my friend’s wedding and I have the jitters.
It’s not like I’m the one exchanging vows and I don’t have to make a speech, or do a reading at the ceremony. I expect no one will even notice what I’m wearing, I’m only a minor guest.
But I am leaving my baby for 12 hours – the longest time since she was born almost eight months ago.
What if she won’t stop crying? What if she won’t drink milk from a bottle? What if she falls over and cracks her head open?
Don’t be silly, my mother raised me and four other children, she’ll be fine looking after her.
I need to shave my legs. And pump some milk. And find my good shoes.
Oh, maybe I shouldn’t go. It’s just not worth the hassle.
5.45am: The baby is awake. I must have nodded off at last.
It’s a bit early, but I’ll just go and get her and bring her into bed. I need to make sure she has plenty of milk.
And I’m going to have to say goodbye to her in a few hours. I’m going to miss her!
7am: I must charge my phone so that I have full battery for checking she’s okay.
Where did I put that smart vintage handbag? I need breast pads, money, keys, Oyster…. At least I don’t have to pack nappies and wet wipes and an endless list of baby stuff.
8am: There’s no point washing my hair until after I’ve fed her her porridge.
I must show my mother where the nappies are. And put her favourite books in a pile.
Is it too soon to express some milk?
9.30am: She’s having a nap. She looks so peaceful. I’d better have a shower now while I can.
10am: I’ve forgotten how to put make-up on. I look like a clown. These eyeliner flicks don’t match, but if I try to even them up I could end up having to start all over again and I just can’t face it.
I can’t remember when I last used a hairdryer. Is there any point? I’ve put some product in, I could just twist it up and leave it to dry and make it look like I’ve gone for that, ‘Just Got Out Of Bed’, look on purpose…
11.45am: I need to leave in five minutes. But she seems quite happy, so maybe I should just get out while the going is good. Before I change my mind.
If I give her a kiss goodbye it might set her off. Sod it! I want a kiss goodbye!
She’s slobbering in my hair. Ah, how sweet. I’ll treasure that clumpy bit of hair for the rest of the day. Hey, it adds a new authentic twist to the, ‘Just Got Out Of Bed’, look.
11.50am: I’m walking down the road away from the house. I feel sick. My stomach hasn’t felt this lurchy since I was pregnant!
I can hear a baby crying! It can’t be mine, I couldn’t hear her from here. Actually, is there even a baby crying at all or is that just in my mind?!
I must make an effort to stop clutching my breasts every time I hear a baby crying.
12pm: My mother hasn’t sent me any messages. Is that good or bad?
12.10pm: She’s sent a picture of her playing happily. But maybe that only lasted a few seconds and she’s screaming the house down now.
12.20pm: Another picture of her looking happy… It still could all be a cunning ruse just to make me feel better.
12.30pm: She’s sitting in her highchair stuffing food in. Still smiling. Maybe she doesn’t miss me at all.
I’ve read about this. There’s some kind of psychological term for it, about how babies behave different away from their mothers.
12.40pm: I better not check my phone this much at the wedding. Oh God! I’m going to be one of those frightful bores who just talks about their kids and shows people pictures on their phone.
12.50pm: My mother just sent a picture of her drinking from a bottle! It’s not even that really expensive miracle teat that we bought when she started refusing to drink from a bottle. She’s not even making a fuss.
My mother says she’s downed it all!
She doesn’t miss me one tiny bit! She doesn’t even care that I’ve gone!
That’s a good thing. Of course it’s a good thing. I wouldn’t want her to have cried nonstop for 12 hours straight.
The little minx….
2pm: Now she’s napping. She hardly ever naps for me in the afternoons. Not unless I take her in the pram and walk around for ages.
Why doesn’t she behave so well for me?! I’ve been too soft.
5pm: That was a lovely ceremony. I’ll just check my phone to see how things are going.
Ah, a video of her clapping. That’s the first time she’s clapped I think! She’s learned to clap!
I’d better get out of this cubicle, I can hear a queue forming.
My breasts are starting to feel full already! Maybe I should have brought a pump in my handbag? Could I squirt a bit out into the basin if it gets too painful later? No that would be disgusting!
7.30pm: My mother says she drank another bottle and is now fast asleep! What was I worrying about. We could have booked a hotel and stayed out all night! I’m actually starting to have fun.
But I don’t think I’d want to not be there when she wakes up. What if we miss the train?!
11pm: Phew! We’ve made the last train. We won’t have to sleep at the station and we will be there for her in the morning. Actually, it’s the train before the last train because I was so paranoid about missing the last one.
It was a great wedding. The band were really starting to get going. I’d quite like to have stayed a bit longer and done some dancing. Except my breasts are agony now. They might have started squirting across the dance floor if I’d risked jiggling them around too much.
12am: She’s fast asleep. I’ll just kiss her head very lightly so I don’t wake her up. My breasts are like rocks! I could wake her up and feed her… No, I’ll get the pump.
6.30am: My head feels fuzzy and my tongue feels furry. And my breasts are fit to burst again!
Oh good, she’s awake.
She looks pleased to see me! She remembers who I am! She doesn’t resent me for leaving! I should damn well hope so too!
Or it could just be because she’s hungry. Who cares! She’s sucking. What a relief.