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It takes all day to trim a baby's fingernails. - Sauntering Vaguely Downward [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat

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It takes all day to trim a baby's fingernails. [20130208|10:15]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
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You rise before your partner when you hear the baby begin stirring and begin the first morning's feed. When you're halfway through this process, you change her nappy. During the nappy change, you notice that her fingernails need to be cut and make a mental note of this. You return to the bed, where partner is stirring. Partner sleepily heads for the shower. As Partner prepares for work, you carry on feeding until baby is satisfied. Then you head downstairs to have breakfast with Partner and baby.

Once Partner has left for work, you spend another hour going through the feeding, winding and changing cycle until she falls asleep for her mid-morning nap. She has been too active all morning for you to dare trying to trim her fingernails, and she falls asleep so quickly that you don't risk waking her again. You make the bed, have a shower, dress yourself, put on a clothes wash, fold and put away yesterday's laundry, do the dishes, feed the cat, feed the birds, put out the rubbish, hoover the front room, read your e-mail and have just enough time to make a cup of tea that you won't be able to drink when the baby wakes up again.

Another hour and a half is spent feeding, changing and entertaining the baby. The last is the most challenging. You watch baby intently. What does she want? Does she want to be held? To be shown a picture book? To have a toy dangled in front of her? To be on her tummy? None of these seem to be working so you pop her in her carrier and go for a walk, which settles her temporarily. She makes happy "Mmm" noises as the cool air wafts past her face.

When you return from your walk, it's lunchtime, or possibly quite a bit past that. If baby is happy on her own that day, you get to make your sandwich, eat some soup and drink a fresh cup of tea. If baby is being clingy, you eat the components of your sandwich directly from their packets and forgo the rest, holding baby in your other arm. As you swallow the last mouthful, you contemplate trimming baby's fingernails when she suddenly falls asleep again.

Once again, you spring into action. You hang up the laundry and put another wash on, hoover a room or two, pay some bills, phone your GP and make an appointment, assemble the components of supper, make a grocery list and reply to the most critical e-mails. Baby awakens, hungry again.

This time you get half a feed into her and while she's having a break, she is content to lie back and gaze at you without moving much. You see your opportunity and pick up the nail clippers. Gently, delicately, you trim one tiny fingernail at a time, pausing between each for reassurance and cuddles so that baby stays relaxed enough for you to do the next one. You look at the clock and find that it's taken you half an hour to complete this task without tears or inadvertent bloodshed. Rejoicing, you finish the feed and carry baby downstairs so she can watch you prepare supper.

Your partner returns home as you're wiping your hands on a towel.

"Hello, darling," says Partner. "What did you do today?"

You briefly consider proudly recounting the successful fingernail trimming episode, but saying the words suddenly makes them seem ridiculously trivial. Instead, you smile and reply, "Oh, the usual," the accompanying sweep of your arm encompassing tidy house, drying laundry, washed dishes, simmering supper, purring cat and clean, contented, short-fingernailed baby. "How was your day?"

Partner launches into an account of the day's achievements and grievances while picking up a knife to assist with supper preparation. You reflect enviously that it was nice when you had a full-time job as your only benchmark for accomplishment.

And that, my friends, is how it takes all day to trim a baby's fingernails.

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[User Picture]From: nanila
2013-02-11 20:21 (UTC)
Thank you!
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[User Picture]From: anthrokeight
2013-02-08 14:35 (UTC)
Yesssss! Success on the nails!

Also re: your post on babies being tedious to entertain at that age. I babysat my cousin's wee one for a few days when she was that age.

And man... sometimes, the only way to make it tolerable was to pretend it was a meditation exercise.

And to read scraps of New Yorker articles out loud as "story time."
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2013-02-11 20:23 (UTC)
They grow too fast. I need to cut them again tomorrow. *headdesk* It's gonna take allll daaaaay.

Today Humuhumu got to hear some Nature Climate Change. She also watched an episode of David Attenborough's new series "Africa". The baby sea turtles were her favourites - lots of commentary on those.
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[User Picture]From: soliano
2013-02-08 17:26 (UTC)
Raising little primates can be such a bother, especially when we don't honor those who do the raising, instead calling it a lifestyle choice. Sounds like you accomplished your goal for the day with aplomb!
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2013-02-11 20:23 (UTC)
It was an unusually successful day. Some days, each of those tasks gets half-completed.
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[User Picture]From: thekumquat
2013-02-08 21:55 (UTC)
There's a good book called "What Mothers Do: especially when it looks like nothing".

I think the best bit of having conflux working from home sometimes wasn't that he was there to help sometimes, but simply he could see what I was doing all day, even if the end of the day involved more mess etc than the start!
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2013-02-11 20:24 (UTC)
I read that when Humuhumu was about four weeks old! I'm so grateful to the friend who loaned it to me - I think it saved my sanity in those early days.

I agree. Sometimes the bloke works from home, too, and I think he has an inkling of just how tedious it can get...
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[User Picture]From: cosmiccircus
2013-02-09 01:13 (UTC)
Ever think to yourself, "for this I got my Phd?" Don't! You're doing a good thing, and it won't last forever! The things you do now, might be trivial to you, but they are huge in your daughter's world!
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2013-02-11 20:25 (UTC)
Yes, yes I do think that. *sigh* But I also know that this period of her life, when she's this totally dependent on me, is very short and precious. That helps.
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[User Picture]From: purplecthulhu
2013-02-09 20:12 (UTC)
Purpletigron says: Re: "You watch baby intently. What does she want?" ... are you looking at baby signing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baby_sign_language#Research_controversy ?
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2013-02-11 20:27 (UTC)
I haven't! Maybe I'll look for a class nearby.

I watch her a lot for non-verbal cues and I think I'm pretty good at interpreting them now. I should write them down so I can tell them to the nursery key worker.
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[User Picture]From: belladonna_
2013-03-03 02:00 (UTC)
I'm dazzled by your efficiency. My maternity leave was much less productive. :)
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2013-03-03 12:50 (UTC)
I suspect I have fewer demands on my time than you do, what with only having one (generally very cooperative and calm) baby to look after!
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