The Thing Is with Steve Canavan

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Parenthood is fun? It doesn’t wash with me

After three weeks of parenthood I have discovered the most important thing about raising a baby is this: make sure your washing machine is in good working order.

A week after the birth of Mary Beyonce Canavan (we’ve decided to change her middle name, just to jazz it up a bit), I’m beginning to feel like I work in a launderette.

While Mrs Canavan sits on the settee breastfeeding (she tells me it’s exhausting, though I’m not convinced anything you can do lay on the settee while watching Coronation Street and sipping a cup of tea can be classed as exhausting), I am spending every minute of every day running up the stairs to fetch one of the three laundry baskets (darks, whites, vomit-coated baby stuff), bringing them back downstairs, putting on a wash, hanging the items that have just come out of the previous wash on the radiator, ironing the items recently taken off the radiator, then running back up the stairs to put the freshly laundered and ironed items back in the bedroom wardrobe.

By the time I have finished that, Mary has vomited all over herself and the whole process starts again.

‘Can you shut the kitchen door?’ Mrs Canavan will occasionally holler. ‘The sound of the washing machine is drowning out the television. Oh and love, where’s that toast you said you were bringing?’

I complained to my mother about the amount of laundry but she laughed hollowly and said, ‘how do you think we coped in the days before washing machines?’, pointing out that she had to wash everything by the hand, including nappies. ‘Don’t know you’re born,’ she chunnered, which is probably true but not what I wanted to hear after three hours sleep the previous night and with another two loads of washing to do.

At least the laundry is giving me respite from actually being with Mary, for having a baby, I’m finding, is a bit like owning a toy whose batteries never run out. In other words, it can be damn annoying.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my daughter very much and wouldn’t swap her for the world (well, maybe for a million quid and a month-long all expenses paid trip to the Bahamas) but there was a moment the other night - about half three in the morning, after she’d been wailing for two hours solid - when I was briefly tempted to hurl her out of the window.

Thankfully the urge passed, but babies do test your patience.

I think half the problem is that she’s so clingy. I mean she’s almost three weeks old now, yet she still wants picking up and cuddling and comforting all the time. Isn’t it time she started to grow up? Surely at the very least she should be offering to do some light hoovering?

One thing I am looking forward to is the day she is old enough to dress herself for let me say this - the man who designed the baby grow is not welcome at my house for tea and toast anytime soon.

They are impossible to put on without an advanced degree in engineering. They may look simple, these onesies for infants, but a baby grow has about 20 popper buttons, none of which seem designed to connect with the other. It’s particularly tricky around the crotch area, where the majority of the poppers appear to be, and I have yet to dress Mary without at some point in the procedure accidentally connecting the left leg to the right arm, almost dislocating my child’s shoulder and hip in the process.

(Doctor in A&E: ‘So Mr Canavan how did your baby come to have such severe injuries?’ Me: “Well, I was was dressing her and got the popper buttons mixed up. What’s that? You want me to accompany these police officers to the station?”)

It takes me, on average, about 25 minutes to put clothes on Mary, by which point she will inevitably have thrown up all over it again … which means I have to put yet another wash on. Parenthood. Over-rated.

Crossing the road is now an SAS operation

One way having a baby has changed me is when crossing the road.

Pre-Mary, so a fortnight or so ago, I’d run across busy streets in a carefree manner, dodging between cars.

I’ve never been one of those who waits for the little green man to come on at the traffic lights, I’d rather take a bit of a chance and dive across earlier when there’s a gap (advice I’m pretty sure not endorsed by the Green Cross Code).

However, when I took the pram out of the first time and reached the first road near our house – not even a main road, just a fairly quiet suburban street – something odd happened.

I nervously looked both ways three or four times and was about to go when I saw to my left, about half a mile or so away, a car.

‘Hang on,’ I said to Mrs Canavan, ‘let’s just let this vehicle pass’.

Three minutes later, when it slowly chugged past us, I again checked three times both ways, and then, only when I was absolutely sure there wasn’t car within a seven-mile radius, shouted ‘right, let’s go’ as if I was an SAS commander in charge of a raid on a key Taliban position, and bundled Mrs Canavan and the pram across the road and to the safety of the pavement on the other side.

It took 20 minutes longer to get to the shops than it normally does – god help us if we ever stray further afield.