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What 24 hours with a newborn is really like

Read this before you tell a new mum she looks tired — then offer to help out

From SheKnows Australia
Ask a mother with a newborn how her week is going and almost instantly her eyes will glaze over, she'll tear up or fall asleep. Taking care of a newborn is no joke. If you've ever wondered why, here's a 24-hour insight into a universe of nappies and sleep deprivation.

7-8 a.m.: This is not actually when your day starts. There is no real "start", just a floating abstract feeling that time is passing, punctuated by the sun going up and down. But let's say at 7a.m. you feed your baby. If you're breastfeeding, this means an hour of excruciating pain as your little angel tries to detach your nipple from your person. If you're formula feeding, it means sanitising a bottle twice (because you're not sure whether you did it already), freaking out about whether the ratios are right and then trying to get your baby to drink.

8-8:15 a.m.: The baby's fed and it's still early… except the little treasure did a poo in the middle of the feeding and is now falling asleep. You have a choice to make: change the baby or let her sleep in poo. You consider for a minute then use your finest ninja stealth moves to soundlessly place her on the changing table. She wakes up and screams blue murder in indignation. She does not care about the fresh nappy or the layer of barrier cream you lovingly smeared on her butt. Oh, crap, did you put the cream on? You're pretty sure you put the cream on. You probably put the cream on.

8:15-8:18 a.m.: You check that you put the cream on (you did) and swaddle the baby.

8:18-8:25 a.m.: You re-swaddle the baby about five more times because one little limb always fights its way out.

8:25-9:10 a.m.: The baby falls asleep. You spend the next 40 minutes walking around the house and swaying because that's the only way she'll stay that way. You realise you haven't had breakfast yet. You dream of toast.

9:10-9:55 a.m.: The baby wakes up screaming because she's hungry. You feed her. She does a poo.

9:55-10:05 a.m.: With speed and gentleness, you bolt to the nursery to change and swaddle the baby. You hope that it won't disturb her sleep.

10:05-10:35 a.m.: It does. You rock and bounce and sing and shush and walk and stop and why won't the baby sleep?! You question yourself as a parent.

10:35-11:20 a.m.: You feed and change the baby again.

11:20 a.m.-1 p.m.: The baby falls asleep and it's blissful. You try to put her down in her bassinet. She stirs. After 30 failed attempts, you pick her up, feed her and decide to do some chores one-handed. It takes a stupidly long time to do laundry and load the dishwasher.

1-1.20 p.m.: Pleased with your effort, you take a picture and update your Facebook status, "Doing chores like a boss."

1:20-2:15 p.m.: The ground trembles under the force of your eyelids falling; you decide to make a coffee. You brew a cup, make toast, take both to the table and gingerly commence your feast. You have to periodically stand up and bounce to keep the baby asleep. You don't finish your coffee.

2:15-3 p.m.: The baby wakes up. You feed and change her.

3-3:20 p.m.: You get the baby to sleep in the bassinet and congratulate yourself on your way to the toilet, where you spend your entire peeing experience agonising over whether she is okay.

3:20-3:35 p.m.: You check on the baby, take a few photos (#sleepinglikeababy #didnotdie), add them to social media and send them to your mum.

3:35-4 p.m.: You discover your morning coffee, put it in the microwave and hang up the laundry.

4-6:15 p.m.: You dream-feed your baby and decide to "sleep when they're sleeping".

6:15-6:45 p.m.: The baby wakes up. You feed and change her.

6:45-7 p.m.: You get the baby to sleep again! Your stomach grumbles. You "prepare dinner" (aka you pull out a frozen meal and put it in the microwave). You discover your morning coffee. It's cold. You drink it anyway.

7-7:15 p.m.: Your husband comes home and you follow him around the house as he changes, whispering the details of your day to him because you've missed human contact.

7:15-7:45 p.m.: You remember dinner, zap it again and sit down at the dining table. The baby grunts. You drop your fork before it makes it to your mouth, pick up the baby and rock her back to sleep.

7:45-8 p.m.: You glide around the table, bouncing the baby and one-handedly eating your cold dinner. This is the life.

8-10 p.m.: You beg your husband to take the baby so you can sleep. You dream of losing the baby in the bed.

10-10:10 p.m.: You start to worry that it's been too long since the baby has eaten and google that. You google baby sleeping patterns. The baby grunts. You google that as well.

10:10-10:50 p.m.: The baby wakes up. She's hungry. You feed her and ask your husband to change her. You supervise to make sure he's doing it right (he's doing it right).

10:50-11 p.m.: You realise you haven't given your baby a bath and feel like a monster. What about her routine? She'll never be an astrophysicist now! You decide to cut your losses and bathe her anyway.

11 p.m.-1:30 a.m.: The baby falls asleep. You should sleep, but instead you watch two episodes of your favourite show and check Facebook.

1:30-2:30 a.m.: The baby wakes up and cries inconsolably. You do everything in your power to make her sleep. She does not want to sleep.

2:30-5 a.m.: You feed the baby and she finally drifts off to sleep on you. You cannot move her. You do not sleep.

5-5:45 a.m.: You feed and change the baby.

5:45-7 a.m.: The baby drifts off to sleep, but you can't. You look over at your peacefully sleeping husband and consider smacking him in the face with a wrench. You can't reach your wrench. You google kitten photos instead.

More on newborns

Fathers reveal what really happens in the first 1,000 days with a baby
Why diluting breastmilk can be dangerous
Big change to umbilical cord protocol is a win for babies

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