A Dad's Diary Of A Virtual Crying Baby
When it was first suggested I might 'like' to have an electronic baby for the weekend to see how my girlfriend and I coped, I wasn't really worried. I mean, how difficult could it be at my age?
Even those of us who don't have children know that babies cry a lot. We were ready for that and surely it was simply a case of introducing a little virtual food or simulating some cuddles, while showing some basic handling skills to help keep the peace and quiet.
Three days later I was tired, irritable, on the verge of being single, shocked and disappointed - all at once. My three days with baby David, a bottle-fed crying, pooing, grumbling, burping,
Day OneHaving picked up the doll - whom we quickly dubbed David - we had not even got to the car when he began to cry. Quietly pleased to be called into action so quickly, we then meticulously went through the list of things that could be wrong and did what we should to comfort for each possible cause. And he continued to cry - which pretty much set the model for the hours ahead.
As the first evening became night, we did get short periods of respite before the familiar - and surprisingly loud - crying would begin again. We would by turns feed, cuddle, burp and change the doll, with varying degrees of success. It appeared incredibly lifelike, particularly in the way the silence would be shattered again just as we were drifting off.
Day TwoThere had been no need for us to set an alarm to get up in the morning. David had us up almost hourly through the night, ensuring he had been well fed. I, on the other hand, had nothing to eat for breakfast as we did not get to the supermarket the previous evening. Melissa didn't want me to go on my own and neither of us fancied fighting our way around the store with a screaming, plastic baby.
Don't get me wrong, the baby didn't yell all the time. As we became more practised, our handling of him became more efficient. When he was in full flow, most of the time we went through the checks and fed and watered, cuddled or cleaned, he settled down. Not always, but most of the time. But it was the constant attention and need for swift, decisive action that meant we had no time to do anything ourselves. This was everything from essential things, like eating and showering, to just a simple task you might take for granted, like checking the football scores. It took me an hour to get the results due to the distractions when it would normally have taken a minute.
Our second night was much the same as the first. We had about three hours of peace late evening when we both crashed on the sofa, then a couple of hours of crying, couple of hours quiet and then it was time to get up again. Though we had got over the initial shock of the exercise, we were both left bewildered by a lack of uninterrupted sleep - and I was still hungry.
Day ThreeSunday morning and we were ready. Having completed the latest feed and checked everything else, it was a run to the car and a steady, legal-speed drive to the supermarket. Melissa and David stayed in the car while I ran in, under strict instructions to be as quick as possible. Darting around the store in record time, it did feel like something was missing and I was still on edge that any second I would hear the grumbling beginnings of a crying fit at my side. Back in the car, I discovered there had been some electronic tears but a quick cuddle had seen them off for once.
Back home, we had developed a tag-team system, where one would run around doing things while the other watched the baby, before swapping. This meant that I cooked half the food, ate half of what was on the plate and neither of us got to watch the film we had hired for the afternoon. This latter minor change of plan seemed to cause a disproportional problem between us as we snapped at each other, the last two nights obviously now taking their toll.
There followed more, regular interruptions in the small hours of the morning. But, whether we were now numb to it, used to the routine, or were simply just getting through our last night, we coped fairly well and without speaking to each other.
Day FourDriving to the office with the boy sleeping soundly in the back, the previous few days seemed to have happened to someone else. There was no time to concentrate on anything else or make any plans because you never knew just when David would be clamouring for attention of some sort again. Not knowing what to do or check first, gives a tremendous feeling of inadequacy. And when you had done everything you were supposed to and still that crying persisted, it was enough to make me tearful!
The fact that this was just a trial run and not a real situation was always in the back of our mind I think - and still we only just survived it.
Diary of a crying baby by James aged 34
This real-life diary was sent to us by Vicki from Colief Infant Drop's PR team.
She writes that the diary above was "written by a dad-to-be who is a freelance journalist. His partner is 4 months pregnant and they both lived with a colicy virtual baby for four days." She suggests that the diary could show readers of TheBabyWebsite how new dads cope with newborns and colic and what to expect. We were also offered the chance to borrow the virtual baby to see how we coped. Not surprisingly, noone volunteered!
As it's the beginning of a New Year and Vicki kindly wished us a Happy New Year before embarking on her well-executed plug, we have decided to use Coelief's 'story' and congratulate Vicki on her team's innovative approach!
And as someone's been sprinkling 'Happy Dust' on the office today, we've thrown in a link to the Coelief Website for good measure.