Maybe it’s the lack of sleep making me delirious, the sheer exhaustion of the last few weeks now baby Niamh is at home and Susan and I are trying our best to actually ‘be’ parents and figure out what the living fuck we should be doing, or maybe it’s the added pressure we find ourselves under as we try to ‘establish’ Niamh into at least one of the routines screaming out at us from The Regimental Baby Book, knowing full well Professor Jane will be analysing our attempts in a week or so (and to be perfectly honest, we’re both a little frightened of her), but at the minute it seems our lives are nothing more than some kind of sick game show, a messed up Baby-fied version of The Crystal Maze where we move from one ridiculous task to the next. All we need is a Maze Master to direct us and I swear to God, this is our life at the moment…
Zone One – The Hands On Zone
The Maze Master – Welcome to the show. Conner and Susan please confirm for the viewers at home that you are both exhausted and haven’t slept for a number of weeks; in essence, you’re…..
Audience – ON YOUR ARSES!
The Maze Master (MM) – That’s right. You’re on your arses. Tell us a little about yourselves.
Me – We’re fucked.
MM – Super. Ok, Conner, you’re going to start. Mental, Physical, Skill, or a Mystery challenge?
Me – I once did two bits of a Sudoku puzzle so it has to be Mental. I’m good at Mental.
MM – Right then, in you go. Tell us what you see.
Me - I see Niamh. She’s on a change matt and there’s a vest and baby grow next to her. Ok, I get it. I have to dress her. How long do I have before I’m locked in?
MM - We’ve set the clock at two hours.
Me – The vest is done. This won’t take long at ….oh…what….that’s not right. The Baby grow, the poppers go off at an angle around one leg? What the fuck? The poppers should be in a line down the middle so you can lie the baby down onto the baby grow and then just wrap, everyone knows that, but you can’t fucking do that with this thing, it doesn’t lay flat. Susan, can you hear me? It doesn’t lay flat!
Susan – Shit. He’s no good with this kind of stuff. He’s used to the baby grow being symmetrical when he lays it flat.
Me – Ok, ok. Think. Think. Do I do one side first, or the arms, and then the legs? Jesus, it’s just not symmetrical! Susan, it’s not symmetrical! I can’t wrap her! I don’t understand how I’m supposed to…I…I can’t get her arms in, she won’t let me.
Niamh – WHHHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!
Me – Fuck sake! What kind of sick mind designs a baby grow with poppers that don’t go in a straight line? How long have I been in here?
MM – One hour twenty.
Me – My thumbs are too God Damn fat for these little poppers! And now I’ve got two buttons spare? How can I have two buttons spare? One leg is up around one of her arms… oh Christ! I’ve lined it up all wrong! What a fucking twat! I’ll have to start it all over again…oh no, now she’s having a shit and it’s gone up her back! I can see it seeping through the baby grow between her shoulder blades! How long? How long?
MM – You’ve been an hour and fifty.
Me – It’s no good, get me out. Get me out of here.
MM – Close but no points for that one, I’m afraid. Where do you want to go next?
Susan – My turn. I’ll go for a Skill challenge, please.
MM - Sure thing. In you go. I don’t need to ask how exhausted you are, seeing as you’ve just missed the doorway and walked into the wall. Now tell us what you see in there.
Susan – well, it’s dark. Niamh’s in her Moses basket and she’s awake. It looks like I have to settle her to sleep and make it back out of the room. Ok, I think she’s settled herself, the clever little girl, so I’m going to try and leave…
Niamh - WHHHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!
Susan – Its ok, I’ve got this. I’m going to try the ‘pick up, put down’ method…
MM – Bringing out the big guns, huh? Let’s see how that goes.
Niamh - WHHHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! (FOR FOUR HOURS)
Susan – I think I’ve broken my fucking spine! ‘Pick up, put down’ is a pile of horse shit!
Me - The book says ‘pat n’shush’.
Susan – You come in here and ‘pat n’shush’, you fucking idiot! Oh, I think she’s going. I’ll try and get out.
Me – Be careful, Susan. Please, just be careful.
Niamh – WHHHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!
Susan – Christ on a fucking bike! She must have bloody radar or something! I’m going combo, ‘pat n’shush’ with a bit of ‘pick up, put down’, whilst singing a nursery rhyme and playing that whale CD we bought, the one where the whale does the fucking hoovering to create a bit of white noise….how long I’ve I been in here?
MM – Seven hours.
Susan – Oh my God, would you look at that. It’s working. It’s bloody working! Ok, I’ll have to commando roll out of the room.
Niamh – WHHHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!
Susan (crying now) – For fuck sake, Niamh! Please! Please let me out of here, I just want a slice of toast. Get me out, please, just get me out!
Zone Two – The Baby Stuff Zone
MM – Bad luck. So no joy in Zone One, let’s see if you can do any better in Zone Two. This one is a Mystery Challenge so, Conner, in you go.
Me – It’s a baby car seat and our car. No way! Fuck Off! I have to fix the car seat into the car without Isofix. No chance. Get me out of here!
MM – Ok, seeing as that was a non-starter, try this one.
Me – Oh come on! This is worse than the last one! I have to collapse the push chair and load it into the boot of our car without losing a finger. How long do I have?
MM – Three hours for this one.
Me – No. Can’t be done. Get me out.
MM – Come on, Conner. We can’t leave the Zone without at least an attempt. Try this last Mystery one.
Me – Right, there’s a steriliser and the thousand or so pieces that make up each individual bottle. I think I have to make up a bottle without scalding myself. Ok, here goes……aaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh! Fuckitfuckitfuckit! I’ve just burnt the skin off both my bloody hands! Get me out! Get me the fuck out!
Zone Three – The Other Part of Your Life That Exists in Parallel with Your Lives as Parents Zone
MM – Well, Zone Two was a tough one. Susan is still recovering from her hellish seven hour Skill challenge so you’re up again, Conner. This time it’s a Mental challenge.
Me – Right, I seem to be at work. There’re lots of people talking to me. I think they’re asking me to do stuff but all I can hear is ‘blah blah blah’ and now they’re getting angry with me. My brain is just too frazzled with exhaustion to cope with this. I can’t even remember where my desk is. I keep falling asleep when I try to read my emails, my eyes just won’t stay open. And now I’ve trodden in a bin. How long I’ve I been in here?
MM – You’ve been at work for an hour.
Me - It’s too much. I can’t do it. I can’t last the day. Get me out!
Zone Four – The Other Mums Zone
MM – The final zone. Susan, you’re back with us although you do smell of wine. It’s down to you.
Susan – Physical. My head is too foggy with tiredness, or maybe Pinot Grigio, for anything Mental like getting dressed or making myself food or showering and stuff. It’s got to be Physical.
MM – Ok, good luck.
Susan – I’m in a room with some other mums and their babies. I think I’m at…oh holy mother of fuck…I’m at a playgroup! They’re coming for me! Quick! Get out of my way! Karate kick to the head - take that, Miss My Baby Sleeps Through; Whack! - have that Miss My Baby Already Knows How to Hang Glide; Whallop! - in your face Miss I Do Thirty Minutes of Tummy Time Every Fucking Day; Roundhouse to the throat! - up yours Miss My Baby Is Learning Chinese! I made it! I did it! I escaped without any….without…erm…it’s just…it’s just that I suddenly feel so guilty. Those other mums can do all these amazing things and I can’t. Maybe I should be taking Niamh Hang Gliding. I’m such a shit mum. I can’t even reach the door because the guilt is too heavy. Help me!
MM – Ah, so close again. If it wasn’t for that episode of ridiculous guilt you’d have had your first points.
Susan – Well now I feel even more guilty.
Me – Nice one Maze Master, you dickhead!
MM - Well, all is not lost. You still have a chance at our final challenge, a chance to win back a little self-esteem. What do you say?
Susan - What’s the challenge?
MM - All you need to do is get the three of you out of the house in under
Susan and Me - Fuck off!
Susan – We may be exhausted and incapable of coherent thought, and our minds maybe on the verge of becoming nothing more than mush, but even we know that getting everything packed up and in the car, getting Niamh ready, and then leaving in anything under a day and a half is virtually impossible. We’re not fucking stupid!
MM – Ok, well that’s it for another episode of The Baby Maze. Join us next week where our young, practically broken couple try our biggest challenge yet, trying to get Baby Niamh into some sort of bedtime routine before she turns twelve. And don’t forget…we’re not tired….…
Audience – …WE’RE ON OUR ARSES!