Baby won't take bottle, Daddy goes insane: Tales from a new dad
Two months after my tiny, little, lovely baby daughter was born it was time for my wife to go back to work. Just a little bit. She is a genius writer and actor, and she had some acting gigs coming up. It's a popular Canadian TV show, so she couldn't say no. She couldn't look down at that adorable, little baby suckling from her nipple and say, 'no' to TV money. We all need money, baby. That's the way the world crumbles.
It was not that big a deal! Not that much time apart from the newborn infant, but what still needed to happen was that we had to train her to take the bottle from a big galoot! I'm the big galoot! I'm also an actor and writer, but primarily a stand up comedian and I had to make sure I had enough down time to make this bottle feeding schedule work while mom made mad amounts of moola.
We did not have much time to train her.
Here's the schedule: I come home from ten days out in B.C. after playing two of Canada's finest comedy establishments; Hecklers in Victoria, and The Comedy Mix in Vancouver. I have one night in Toronto. At 2 a.m. that night I receive a phone call from my eccentric, somewhat estranged biological father's girlfriend; he had passed away suddenly in his sleep. Pain and sadness tenderize my brain into a fine mash for the rest of the night. That morning we fly to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where my wife is filming the TV show and I am to prove what a great babysitter I am. My daughter is a calm, sleeping angel on the plane. We land, and it. is. showtime. Baby.
The next morning my wife is heading to set at 6 a.m. and I'm looking at the tiny doll like, "Here we go." I'm also trying to juggle the isolating, shocking thoughts of the death of a loved one. That's personal. We all experience it. Let's move on to the humour and the horror. Mostly horror if I'm going to be honest.
I want you to know that my tiny, little, lovely baby daughter would take the bottle from her mother just fine. Isn't that nice?
Two hours after my wife left I was trying to bottle feed. You take a bottle with lukewarm formula in it and you put the nipple of the bottle into her mouth. Presto. I mean, you hold her ever so, you move the nipple around until it feels right to her, and hopefully the two of you find a groove and feeding will commence. Smooth. Good baby.
She did not want it. No matter what. She literally looked at me like I was a nuisance. And then she freaked! You would think that I was holding a shrieking fire alarm in my arms. A blaring siren sounding like a screaming baby is being burned in the blazing flames of hell fire. I was being burned in hellfire, myself. It was hell. I am not a religious person but we were both being burned alive in hell fire. Just take the bottle, please, my love.
When a newborn baby is that hysterical you can't just say, "Now, calm down, Sweetie." And the baby goes, "Right. Gotcha." puts on her glasses and goes back to reading Nicholas Nickleby.
You rub her back, you say, "Shhhhh" a million times until it sounds like the constant downpours of the amazonian jungle, and you tread every last inch of carpet and bathroom tile in that hotel room at least one thousand times.
But the screaming won't stop if you can't feed her!
Both of us were crying. Her in my arms and me in no one's arms. Just standing there like a bellowing oaf. I'm so sure the cleaning ladies were gathered outside the door listening in like, "Would you listen to this moron!" And then they'd guffaw and go back to dumping wastebasket trash into garbage bags forever. I wanted to run into the hall and shout, "Does anyone here have milky tits?!" But I'd surely have been misunderstood, arrested, and hung in a dungeon.
Look, you think my daughter finally came around to taking the bottle from me? No. Never. We took a cab to the set. In between takes, my wife, fully in costume and makeup, would come over to us, whip out her breast and save the child's life. So new dads, if you've read this far: Stay calm! Take a breath. It's not about conquering everything yourself. It's about learning to accept that you will need help no matter what.
Chris Locke is a stand up comedian, actor, writer from Toronto. You can find more of his hilarious thoughts here.