Poker, Booze and the Baby

So, Friday afternoon we have to get her off to the train station in a frenzy of worry and forgetting and major unconsciously-willed disorganization: she has got the time of the train wrong, she has booked too many nights at the hotel and thinks they won’t give her a refund, she leaves without her phone, without her keys. It’s all a bad sign, we’re both thinking. She is feeling a queasy angst at leaving her baby behind. She is incoherent with guilt. She wants to call the whole thing off. I am brisk with her: push her out, kiss her goodbye, fire up my afterburners. Do it quickly and no one has time to think.

I have a moment of panic as I drive off with a baby in the back of the car. He has slept through his mother’s abandonment, and now is just starting to wake up. I know this because of the squawks of pain that start up, a kind of clucking. In five minutes the clucks turn to grunts, and in the next two minutes after that the grunts turn from tremulous to querulous. And you’ve only got five more minutes after that before they turn to full-fledged wails.

I look at my watch. Eighty hours to go.

I have people coming over to play poker on my first night of solo child care. I figure people can take turns playing and handing the kid around. I have on hand a bottle of Laphroiag, a case of beer, some wine, and a six-pack of pre-mixed formula.

The party is no sweat. The kid sleeps through most of it, and when he wakes there are ladies who are eager to hold him; one even insists on changing him. Fine with me. The last players leave at 2:30 am. I have been careful not to get drunk, but I must admit I have had enough whiskey to make me want to sleep soundly. The baby is deep asleep, so cute, everyone agrees as they say goodbye and return to their quiet luxurious beds.

It is at precisely this moment that Hugo wakes up, profoundly disgruntled. No amount of formula can placate him. He throws most of it back up anyway. Changing him doesn’t help, nor does rocking and singing. By dawn I am feeling slightly hallucinatory, not to mention headachey, the pleasant warmth of the whiskey having withdrawn, leaving behind it the detritus of a beach at low tide. He sleeps for fifteen minutes, wakes again. The sun has risen. I haven’t felt so bad since the time I flew from Hong Kong to Toronto after drinking all night. I think I might have to throw up too.

By noon I have slept maybe two hours and Hugo is in fine shape, wide-eyed, gurgling. He has gone through the entire box of formula. I had no idea he would be such a guzzler. He have to go out to the drugstore. He shows no sign of fatigue. I have no idea when I will sleep again. I have a deep fear of the rest of the weekend. But I have learned one thing: the party, fun while it lasted, was not an intelligent prelude to a night of infant care. Lesson one in macho independence.

Image courtesy of rlr77 on Flickr.

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