I was reminded recently about the fact that just before Reuben was born we decided to replace all the doors in the house. A Door is quite an expensive investment and we live in a house with a requirement for 14 of them. Even with the cheapest ones (that we liked) it was still a small fortune. Then there’s the fixtures, doorknobs, hinges, and the small question of fitting them. Putting up 14 doors is nothing to be sniffed at. That’s a lot of sanding, planing, hanging, re-sanding, putting on of catches and knobs. Then you’re meant to wax them or seal them in some way.
So needless to say, because it was August, and doors are only really useful for keeping in the heat, we decided to put it off for a couple of months.
The Importance of a door
Then Reuben arrived. We had Gabby stay with us for the two weeks that Mike was going to be on paternity leave so we could be a complete family, and we learnt in the space of about 2 hours, the time between Gabby going to bed and me trying to go to bed, that a door does a lot more than just keep the heat in. A door stops noise travelling. Who knew?
Gabriella was asleep in her doorless room and a short walk up the stairs Reuben was screaming blue murder in our doorless room. I had literally just sat in bed with Reubs trying to settle him when it became clear. I needed some doors or Gabby was going to have to go. With all her huffing and puffing, and Reuben’s screaming, and my exhaustion, I was going to lose it. Big style.
What actually happened was I went to the furthest point away, the living room, and put on a film, Shrek. I fell asleep on the sofa with Reuben for an hour or so, and scared myself to death that I had allowed that to happen. So I spent the rest of the night trying to settle Reuben, who didn’t want to settle or feed or in fact stop screaming, and a good night’s sleep was had by all. Except me.
Then to top it all, when all was finally quiet the next morning and Reuben was finally asleep in his basket (the crucial bit), Gabriella came padding into the room, all pink and fresh faced after a good night’s sleep. She smiled and stretched and said, “that baby kept me up aaaaaaall night.”
I could have throttled her. Instead I took Reuben to Mike, who was close to being incapable of getting up. He dragged himself out of our bed and got into Gabriella’s, meaning a) I was finally able to get some rest and b) we missed the midwife’s visit because Gabby ignored the door and Mike was in bed.
It’s hard work being a new dad, you know?
As an aside, later that day I honestly thought he was seriously ill as he still couldn’t get up. I called the midwife in floods of tears to say “Please come back, I need you, and I think my husband is seriously ill.”
My midwife said she thought he was being a lazy arse and I needed to kick him out of bed. If I’m being generous, though, which I am feeling today, I would say perhaps it is extremely emotionally draining watching someone you love being in pain but not being able to help or do anything. Mike’s response was to sleep through most of my labour, but perhaps that was his coping mechanism? When Reuben was finally safely out, Mike cried with relief. That has got to be exhausting, and while a new mum has all her adrenalin kicking in to help protect and nurture this little thing as it learns to survive in the world, I’m not sure dads have the same luxury.
In the old days, men didn’t go to the birth at all. I know Mike wouldn’t have missed that experience for the world and it brought us closer together but at the same time, he wasn’t a massive help during the labour! And, because he had to endure 36 hours of it, he then wasn’t a massive help once the baby arrived either. He was freaking knackered!
After that night, and then the subsequent night when I crawled into bed after yet another terrible night’s sleep and Gabby got into bed with me and threw up, I wished I had stayed in hospital longer. Loads of people come out of hospital within a few hours. They can’t get out of there quick enough. They probably have doors.
I was there for 3 days as Reuben had to be monitored for infection (due to my waters breaking so long before he was finally out) and I wished I was still there, with the chunky, safe hands of the midwife to help me when Reuben wouldn’t latch on. And the meals on wheels! Say what you like about hospital food but I for one loved it. Give me cold toast, sloppy brown sauce on rice and gelatinous sponge puddings any day. Beats what I was eating at home: shredded wheat and the occasional poached egg on toast (although that was like manna from heaven after the 9 month runny egg drought I’d just been through).
The other thing about doors is in the early days when someone does take your baby away, allowing you some precious, uninterrupted sleep, you can drown out the sound of your baby crying by shutting all the doors in between you and them. It is essential. A baby might give out a little yell as they fart and that’s enough to bring a sleeping mama back into the world with a terrifying surge of adrenalin, and there’s no going back after that.
So we got doors. Much sooner than we had anticipated. And, as Reuben gets bigger we have realised that doors also need to shut properly. I can’t remember the number of times I was on the loo and had to jump up to bring Reuben back into the bathroom. Last month we finally got a latch that would keep the bathroom door closed. Imagine my delight after 5 years with Mike and finally having a bathroom door that shuts! Privacy and containment of a small child.
So, my friends, that’s what I think of doors.
Do you have an interesting relationship with an inanimate object that, just at the mere mention of them, brings a surge of memories and emotions?
I’d love to hear about it!!