To all those Mothers out there, you know baby brain, right? That pregnancy fog, where you put salt in your tea, cook the dinner without turning the oven on, and store your knickers in the fridge drawer.
It’s real. We all know it. We all see it. We all hear about it. I mean, I heard about it from the next door neighbour when my expecting girlfriend went to work and left the front door open.
But there’s a secret suffering. One that doesn’t get mentioned. One that doesn’t get noted. One that we don’t complain about … cos, you know, we’re men, we suck it up … The male baby brain.
Baby No.1 couldn’t be bothered to sleep. Fine. There was only one of them, a little one, I could cope for that. My brain had space to seep without noticeably leaking through my nostrils.
Bravely I plodded on, employing the front door in its designated purpose, returning all the chilled underwear to their rightful places, maintaining my grace whilst retaining my intellect.
… And then baby No.2 appeared, and she redefined the phrase ‘sleep deprivation’. She called it ‘sleepy sleepy no chance’.
I accept my punishment with child No.1, as written about here. Food issues, fine and understood. But the insomnia I experienced wasn’t my fault – why would I be damned for that!? … THIS IS SO UNFAIR!!
The first time my brain malfunctioned, we were in a restaurant during my Paternity Leave. I hadn’t slept for eight Aprils, my breakfast cereal that morning tasted salty, and my boxer shorts felt crisp and cold.
“And how would you like to pay, Sir?”
“OK, just enter your pin number when prompted …”
………………… BLANK! Four digits, stored in my brain for 20 years in a row, now suddenly wandered off on their own, never to be found again. Worse, I’m pretty sure 3 of them were the same number!
“Hmm, sorry about this … will you accept Child No.1 as collateral while I nip home?”
… One and a half years later, and it hasn’t gotten any easier. She hasn’t gotten any easier. And she doesn’t care.
Someday, she’s gonna cause somebody else a lot of grief!
But for now, she’s our little bundle of activity.
Just put her in her cot, they say. Just ignore her and she’ll settle, they say. Just get in a routine, they say.
Screw you, she says, as she throws her duvet and pillow over the bars of her cot and begins banging her head on the wooden frame.
At 2am I concede defeat, go in her room to soothe the screaming, cuddle her until she falls asleep … except now I’m pretty sure she thinks she’s trying to get me to sleep. Slowly wriggling free when she sees my eyes drift close, off to do whatever it is that keeps her awake at night.
Gina Ford this ain’t. 2:30am, she then comes and sleeps in our bed … there, I said it.
Sorry, ‘sleeps’ did I say. I meant to say squirms and writhes and kicks. All whilst sleeping, with a winning smile on her face. Straight gangster.
And so it goes on. Everyday I get a little stupider. Some would say I didn’t have much to start with. To them I say: Makka Pakka, Akka Wakka, Mikka Makka Moo.
I’ll leave you with my most recent Baby Brain. I took Baby No.2 out in her pram last week, down to the shops, in the dark. As we entered the blackness, my hand jerked towards an imagined dial, twisting at something that wasn’t there. Confusion had smoothly mixed with disorientation … I’d tried to turn my headlights on.
So to the Fathers out there, I got all the feels for you. Stay strong, silent brothers …