Today is the 500th day of my daughter’s life. Not a landmark that is typically celebrated I admit, but as a mathematician by training I like to note these numerical milestones (I’m already planning on a party for when she is π years old).
Too many of the first 500 days have been days like this one, where I see my daughter for an hour or so before setting off for work in the morning, then home just in time for bath and bed. Even these days have their special moments, but they are rarely among my favourites, so I’d like to write a little about some of my favourite days of Frida’s life.
Surely the day of my daughter’s birth deserves at least an honourable mention? Well, whilst the moment she arrived in the world was truly wonderful, the first day of her life was spent in hospital, never a fun place to be. I was mainly worrying about my wife recovering from the birth and about Frida being able to feed. I wasn’t allowed to stay in the hospital overnight, and so the first day of Frida’s life was also the first, and so far only, night I have spent away from her.
Day 2 was spent trying to get discharged from hospital and preparing for a job interview which was inconveniently scheduled for the next day. But Day 3, once the interview was (successfully) completed, was the day it felt like our life as a family began. The three of us in our new home figuring things out without the interference of others, a day that will always stick in my mind.
The first couple of weeks of parenthood were happy, but mainly spent worrying. Worrying about Frida feeding or not feeding. Worrying about Frida pooing or not pooing. Worrying that Frida’s vomit included a strange luminous green substance (“mucus, we like mucus” said the nurse we spoke to in a broad Yorkshire accent). But by Day 13, abeautiful sunny day my wife and I sat outside in the garden of our local pub enjoying a meal while Frida slept happily in the buggy next to us. It was the first time I remember thinking “it’s ok, we’re going to be able to do this.
In the early stages of our daughter’s life, making it much further than our local shops with her seemed a huge challenge, especially as we don’t drive. Still, we planned a short holiday to Filey, on the Yorkshire coast. As usual we were worrying (you may sense a theme), about taking her on the train journey, about whether she would sleep in unusual surroundings. The journey turned out to be fine, Frida slept better than every before and the trip was mainly non-stressful apart from the odd screaming fit in a posh tea room (not me). The first full day of the trip in particular was pretty much perfect, sunshine, ice creams and as much relaxation as is possible with a four month old.
Day 312 (approx)
My wife and I were both terrible sleepers as babies, over two years old before we slept through the night, so we didn’t expect an easy ride on that front. By four months she was down to two wake ups a night, and things seemed to be going in the right direction, but in fact her sleep got way worse from there. At ten months, as we were starting to think we would never sleep properly again, she slept through for the first time. I remember how strange it was to get up in the morning feeling genuinely refreshed. 300+ days is a long time to go without a full night’s sleep, even if some have it way worse.
There are a lot of firsts in your child’s early years, but some of them are hard to define. What was our daughter’s first word? Was it the first time she made a noise that sounded like ‘Mum’ or is it the first time she said something clearly knowing what it meant?
Frida’s first steps were a long time coming, her verbal development being way ahead of her physical. Even knowing that all children develop at a different rate,it’s hard not to worry, so to arrive one home one day and find her racing (or ‘ratzing’ as she calls it) round the living room hand in hand with my wife, was a particularly proud day.
The best day for me, is usually the most recent one I have spent with my daughter. This Wednesday was no exception. Another gorgeous sunny day (seems to be a bit of a theme of the days I enjoy the most), fun at Toddler Sense in the morning, hours in the playground in the afternoon, loads of playing, fun and laughter, and surprisingly few tantrums. My happiness levels at the end of this day compared to the end of the previous day at work are about as different as they could possibly be.
There are so many other great days we have in Frida’s first 500, as well as the occasional tired, grumpy, bad-tempered one. The good, however far outweigh the bad, and I hope and believe that will continue to be the case, for the next 500, 1000 or 50000 days we spend together.