I run on a twenty-four-hour shift by myself, and another one has just started.
The day works in a three-hour cycle. David sleeps for about two hours and then wakes up wanting more milk and pampering. The feeding takes almost an hour, depending on his appetite. And then comes the burping – the ultimate art of controlled violence – before he falls back to sleep again. My techniques on changing diapers and swaddling have also improved drastically. Nonetheless, as good as my service is, he still cries for no discernible reason, which then completely throws the whole routine/schedule out.
Obviously, a typical adult in a modern society is not designed for this routine. Yet I believe in evolution, and millions of years ago, humans would have had to function like this! Was it because they didn’t need to work from nine to five? Was it because they had to stay up all night anyway to watch out for some sort of animal attacks? Or is it simply because back in the days, humans were just like most other animals; reproduction was our sole purpose in life? Therefore, mothers’ primary responsibility in the household would be to breastfeed her children and nothing else?
Oh, the debate of breastfeed vs. formula. Emily and I used to have this debate too. Well, the decision was made for us…
Anyway, after a quick brush up, I go to the kitchen to start preparing for the milk. Then disaster strikes – I forgot to sterilise the bottles! I washed them all up and put them in the steriliser last night, but somehow I forgot to turn it on. Great. Now I need to boil some water to sterilise them. And expectedly, this is when David starts crying.
“David, please wait!”
I have no idea why I would even say that to a two-week-old baby. May be it’s a plea to David and myself that we both need to have more patience in order to survive this together, literally.
It feels like forever: standing there, watching the kettle of water boil while listening to David’s primal screaming. Also, sterilising milk bottles using piping hot water is not for the faint-hearted when one is still half-asleep.
And then the doorbell rings.
I finally managed to get the milk to David and settled him down. I have developed a technique that supports David in a perfect feeding position while holding the milk bottle at a perfect angle as well – all on the same arm/hand! It also allows me precious Facebook/email time. Then all of a sudden, I remember there is someone at the door!
Rushing to the door with David on my arm, I open the door to see my father standing there, soaking wet. The temperature and humidity is horrible this time of the year, especially when he is waiting in the lift lobby. There is absolutely no ventilation, and he smells a bit like a wet dog.
“Oh sorry, I forgot. But you should have rung the bell again to remind me.”
“It’s okay, I know you were busy. I could hear you screaming. And by the way, hello, David!”
He is really true to his word. He is here TODAY. And he has a luggage that is not even large enough for a short trip.
“Hey, so here I am. What can I do to help?” It almost sounds like he’s cracking a joke.
“It’s okay, Dad. As you can see, David is drinking milk, and this is going to take a while. Just make yourself comfortable here. I will come back out when he is done. Oh, please wash your hands too!”
After David falls to sleep, I finally get the chance to come out and greet my father properly.
“I haven’t really prepared for anything. The guest room is over there, and this is the key. If you need other stuff, there is a supermarket nearby…”
Before I can continue, Dad says, “Don’t worry, son. I know how to take care of myself. I have been living by myself for a few years now, remember?”
Still, it’s strange to have him here. I feel as if I am obligated to do something. He feels more like a guest than my father. Perhaps this is how David is going to interact with me as well. I don’t know. Will we be this awkward?.
“Let me go to the market and buy something. I will cook you and David a nice dinner. I bet you guys haven’t had a good meal for a while.”
My dad is indeed a great cook, even though my mother did most of the cooking. I guess when you don’t have to do something every day, you enjoy it more.
“Well, Dad, you know David doesn’t eat yet….”
He interrupts again, “I have also invited your sister and her family to join us. You need to see more people! You can’t just lock yourself in this apartment. It’s not good for you.”
What? Are you serious? My father is organizing a dinner party? I haven’t really slept all that much for the last two weeks, and now I have to entertain more guests?