Alright then, just sign here and you can take him home.
Home? Taking him home?
And not just him, but my wonderful and rather tired and sore wife.
There’s a lot involved in taking your baby home from hospital. You’ve got to have somewhere for them to sit in the car, somewhere for them to sleep at home, and a decent supply of nappies, cloths, creams, and so forth.
We had all of that, but asides from some experience as a teenager with babies in the extended family, this was all new for me. The idea, that I would strap my fragile and rubbery newborn into some kind of harness and drive down the street, was not one I was overly comfortable with.
Strap him in I did though, and I don’t know who squirmed more, him or me! I helped my wife ease herself into the car, ran around the other side, got in, and took a deep breath.
You can do this, I said to myself.
What followed was probably the smoothest and slowest drive home I ever took, but I can tell you that I felt every bump, rock, and roll as we travelled, paranoid that something was going to go wrong (spoiler alert: it didn’t).
When we pulled up outside the house, it was the same operation as getting everyone into the car, except in reverse. Go around and help my wife ease her way out of the car, then undo a squirmy little boy, extract him from his car seat, and carry him gingerly into the house.
Waiting there for us was our faithful one-year-old Cocker Spaniel cross, who sniffed and wuffed and bounced with excitement, because “mum and dad” had just come home with something new… was it for her? Was it? Please please please?
We held the little one down, introduced the two of them cautiously to one another, and so began a relationship of love that continues to this day, as Nellie took our son into her heart, and adopted him as her very own.
(Be mindful that I am a trained dog handler, and had spent a significant length of time training the dog before we introduced them to one another; this is not the sort of thing to do with a dog you are unsure of or one that has not been thoroughly trained! If you are unsure, please get professional advice, and always err on the side of caution.)
The first day of the new normal had begun, and we had to work out what that meant for us.
- He needed feeding every 2-3 hours
- Nappies needed changing just as often (we went for cloth nappies, which made more washing, but was more environmentally friendly)
- Poor little thing didn’t know how a digestive system worked, so gas and vomiting was a real issue
- Babies don’t come with language inbuilt, so they cry for everything
- He was cute
- He was fun to cuddle
- He eventually grew up?
The one truly amusing thing for us, was seeing how Nellie took ownership of him straight away, to the point where she decided that her sleeping place was under his cot. If he was in the cot, she was under it.
Why was that amusing, you may ask?
Every single time he moved or made a noise for the first week, she came running to us to get our attention…
Mum, Dad, the baby’s broken! Come quick!
And sure enough, one or both of us would get up and follow her, and he’d be there, completely fine and intact, and either simply shifting in his sleep, or in need of a feed and change.
Seems that dogs panic just as much as humans do.
I’ll be honest and say that I don’t remember too much about those seven days and nights. There was a food roster from our church, filled with all sorts of dishes made with love (and some odd ingredients), there were visits from the community nurse, friends, and family, and a lot of sleepless days and nights. We ended up doing things in shifts to begin with; I’d stay up with him overnight and play games or watch a movie while holding him, and my wife would look after him during the day so I could get some sleep.
Little by little, we got used to things, and so did he. Life calmed down a little.
But it did not stay that way for long.
[Photo by Matt Walsh