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.