Baby. Cot. Back.

2.38am
Her little blue eyes had turned black.
In the dark, I could see them wide open and staring at me.
Her legs had finally stopped jerking, her tiny fists rested loosely up next to her ears, and her breathing had slowed.
Even the hiccup hangover from crying had stopped.
I stared back at her, sending imploring messages to her eyelids.
‘Close, close, close,’ I thought.
Behind me, Learner Dad was face down on a mattress he’d desperately dragged into the nursery.
I heard snoring.
It seemed my message had gone to the wrong eyelids.
She watched me as I stood up, my creaking knees excruciatingly loud in the silence.
I backed out of the room, breaking the rules by maintaining eye contact.
She moved her hand slightly.
But she had nothing left.
I slipped out the door and back in to bed.

1.14am
“It’s not working, what’s your plan B?” Learner Dad asked, turning his head but keeping his hands firmly pressed on his wriggling daughter.
“I don’t have one, this is it,” I spat back.
“She’s not going to sleep. What if she’s up all night?”
“I’m not pulling the pin now!” I said. “What a waste this all will have been.”
“Why is she still bloody awake? I don’t get it.”
“She’s waiting to be picked up, that’s why!” I was as exasperated as him.
Fairy Floss watched with amusement as her father and I exchanged heated words above her.
“You go to bed,” I hissed, knowing every angry word we uttered was undoing all our good work.
He left the room.
I couldn’t believe it.
Now I’d have to see this through all by myse…
Oh wait, he was back.
With a mattress.
He sighed loudly as he tried to clear space for it, bumping furniture, knocking things over, before it landed with a huge ‘thwack’ on the floor.
We both looked at Floss.
She threw back her head and began to cry.

12.22am
“It says on Google it could take an hour and a half,” I sang to Learner Dad, to the tune of ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’.
“That could take us to 1am,” was his ‘how I wonder what you are’.
“Sorry, I shouldn’t have decided-to-do-this so late at night,” I sang back. “I’m just over it, she’s a li-ttle shi-it.”
We both smiled.
It’d be ok, she couldn’t stay awake much longer.

11.46pm
“Right, change of tactic, don’t pick her up,” I instructed Learner Dad as I entered the nursery.
At eight months old, Fairy Floss was sending me grey.
She’d spent her whole little life either feeding to sleep, or being rocked.
She was our last baby.
We wanted to enjoy her, to do what came instinctively, what felt right.
I loved watching her little eyes roll back in her head as she suckled to sleep.
And Learner Dad took pride in the fact that all he had to do was pick her up and she’d nod off.
But evenings had become a nightmare of hourly wakes.
Which meant hourly cuddles, or feeds, or both.
It wasn’t improving.
“Just let her cry it out,” my mum had said.
“Mum, we’re told not to do it that way these days,” I’d answered.
“Didn’t do you kids any harm.”
Another reason we’d rushed to her every time she cried was because her big brother, Lil Fatty, was slumbering next door.
And he was a light sleeper.
We had actually hatched a plan prior to this – to let her cry it out, but with one of us sitting beside her, so she’d not be alone or scared.
We’d made a couple of half-hearted attempts but tiredness – and TV shows – had been our excuse to jump ship.
We’d never seen it through.
After the usual three or four wakes on this particular night, I’d finally gone to bed at 11pm.
I was drifting beautifully down into deep sleep when her little cry drifted down after me, circling me round the neck and hoisting me back up.
I’d had enough.
And so, at a quarter to midnight, I told Learner Dad to start patting her padded bum while I pulled out my phone for advice – and assurance.

9.13pm
“You’re such a little ratbag, yes you are,” I said, tickling Fairy Floss’ ribs. “Why won’t you stay in bed?”
Her four tiny teeth grinned back at me, before she turned to munch down on my boob.
“Up again?” Learner Dad groaned, coming in to the lounge room.
“Yep. Why are you surprised?”
She’d dramatically turned her head at the sound of her father’s voice, dragging her teeth along my nipple as she did.
“Here, you take her, she likes being rocked by daddy,” I said, passing her over.
Within seconds, our dear little baby was lightly snoring.
“Something feels different about her,” Learner Dad said, gazing down at his little girl. “I’ve got a really good feeling about tonight.”

Cry me a river baby

He stood there nervously, moving from one foot to the next as he waited.
He smiled and joked with the people around him until, suddenly, everything went quiet.
She was here.
His bride.
As she walked down the long aisle towards him, his eyes filled with tears.
People began nudging each other, whispering, crying themselves.
They were crying inside the cathedral and outside the cathedral.
And in loungerooms around the world.
I am of course talking about the wedding of Prince Frederik to our formerly-known-as-and-now-princess Mary Donaldson.
It was the day tears became mandatory for grooms – across Australia and Denmark at least.
There was never a more romantic moment, one brides across the globe wanted their spouses to emulate the moment they appeared, in their own mists of lace and flowers.
A long-time reporter of the royal affair, I went into my own friend’s lounge to watch the wedding a bit of a cynic.
‘Once a playboy, always a playboy,’ I’d thought of the dashing prince.
But the moment his eyes welled up for Our Mary, well I fell a bit in love with him too.
I mean, this was better than Cinderella.
Never mind that Prince Frederik may have actually been sadly weeping his playboy ways goodbye, his tears became the benchmark.
Learner Dad realised this himself at a wedding we attended recently.
“Look, he’s crying,” guests started whispering as the bride began her journey towards the groom.
The whispers made their way to Learner Dad, who turned to look at the groom himself.
Along with just about everyone else.
Emotional groom was stealing bride’s thunder.
It didn’t seem to matter though, as they were both in a world that included only each other.
“Wow, what if I don’t feel the need to cry? Is that bad?” Learner Dad asked me afterward. “Did you hear everyone whispering about it?”
“Oh I reckon you will,” I answered, thinking of his full emotional breakdown on our loungeroom floor the night he proposed.
I prayed it didn’t go that far this time.
“Would you care if I didn’t?” he said.
I thought about it and you know what?
No.
Despite my gushing about Prince Frederik’s royal salty tears, that was all before I’d met my own prince.
If Learner Dad simply beamed happily at me during my long walk to becoming his wife, I’d be just as touched.
Besides, with Li’l Fatty in his size two tux, four insanely spunky bridesmaids, and my dad, who’ll no doubt be tearing up himself having waited 36 years to walk me down the aisle… I’m not sure either of us will be the centre of attention for too long.