My newborn baby coupon, perfect excuse for everything, has expired

This one-time voucher exempted me from behaviour that would normally have made me a pariah

The newborn baby pass has expired, or is getting seriously close to its use-by date, and I’m not sure if I’m ready.

This one-time voucher exempts me from behaviour that would normally make me a social pariah. I can be weeks late for birthdays (or forget entirely). If I eventually give someone a gift of lavender bath salts they are obliged to smile and say “wow how thoughtful”. Similarly, there’s a long grace period to return texts, phone calls, never mind checking emails.

As for social occasions, if it’s not within a 10km radius or is after the extremely late hour of 6pm, I can’t possibly go. And if I arrive without my hair in a ponytail, and wearing jeans not leggings, I’m considered to be “dressing up”. When heavily pregnant I told my hairdresser I needed a cut that “lasts a bit”, I’m not sure a five month hiatus was what she understood.

This soon-defunct coupon also allows me to ignore those empty photo frames bought during my pregnancy nesting phase that are gathering a thick layer of dust under my couch (put there “temporarily” ). It means making the same dinner dish over and over again constitutes a culinary achievement (chilli with rice, chill with potatoes and when channelling my inner millennial – chilli with nachos and smashed avocado).


But Louis has now moved far from a newborn. Literally. He has rolled right over and pushed himself off his baby mat with a giggle. He is in a golden period where he is entertained by me doing ordinary things (soon enough to become “c’mon and play mammy”). He thinks changing the bedcovers and shaking the duvet is a hoot (although perhaps he is merely plotting to spit-up on it later in the day). Louis smiles and coos so much when I sing around the house you’d swear his surname was Walsh (no Cardi B here mind you, my musical education took a “pause” when my first son was born in 2015).

During the day, happy Louis with his reliable naps, is now far less demanding than a newborn (and is a few months away from crawling when my role turns from loving parent to a high-alert security guard). And thankfully so, as my long finger is now bending and about to break, there have been so many things put on it since he was born.

I even managed to send baby thank you cards this week – they were printed so long ago that the baby is barely recognisable. And I “discovered” in the back of my cupboard, with the surprise of a goldfish circling his bowl, that I own a fancy pressure cooker, bringing with it flashbacks of making a delicious curry . Now I just need to remember the recipe (one of the many non-essential things wiped during the birth brain reboot).

These days, Louis loves nothing more than a good dribbly chew of his hands or a nice gnaw on my knuckles or Sophie the Giraffe’s ears (as a first-time mother I had briefly used sterilising wipes on toys for my first son, now my tardiness is justified by getting the second son exposed to germs good and early).

But he also seems to get long pieces of hair around his hands, thanks to our new invisible pet yeti (or perhaps it is Mammy’s post-partum hair loss reversing the luscious locks that pregnancy hormones bring and will result in a distinctive signature new mother regrowth fringe). So yes finally a hairdresser booking has been made.

But there’s one problem with no longer having a newborn baby pass and returning to “normal”. It’s called the four-month sleep regression. In recent weeks I have become reacquainted with those forlorn hours of 2am, 4am and 6am, replacing a blissful period of five-hour stretches. My baby is sleeping like a newborn but no longer is one and I’m daydreaming about intravenous espresso.

There’s much online debate about what causes this temporary sleep disturbance – from it being part of a phase of rapid brain development, to a baby learning to sleep more like an adult, or a baby needing more night feeds as he’s suddenly too distracted to drink enough during the day. Others dismiss it entirely as a myth.

The four-month sleep regression may be, to butcher Karl Marx, the opium of the parent, but it’s exactly what I need to cling to now that my newborn baby pass has run out.