Several weeks ago, an ex-work friend had a baby and seeing her newborn’s scrunched-up, blotchy, and beautiful face left me thinking back to when our daughter was born.

Clare’s waters broke punctually on her due date of January 1. The labour took some time, with its fair share of complications, but our child, Erin, made her safe entrance on January 2.

We were ready for parenthood.

We’d read the books, we’d watched the TV programmes, and we’d been to parenting classes, then we brought Erin home and realised we knew nothing. One of Clare’s main bibles was ‘The Baby Whisperer’. It told us how newborns have different noises for wanting food, or sleep, or being generally distressed.

“That’s useful”, we thought.

Warrington Guardian:

The first night at home Erin cried. A long, loud noise that seemed impossible coming from her tiny lungs. We thought about what we’d read in ’The Baby Whisperer’ and in no way could we match the descriptions in the book to this ear-splitting cacophony blasting out at us.

We resorted to improvising solutions and trying whatever we could to quieten her. Feeding, rocking in the armchair, playing white-noise, leaving bright lights on, singing lullabies, turning lights off again, sometimes it felt we were pulling random suggestions out of a hat till something worked or Erin decided she’d had enough and was going to sleep for a bit.

After four days riding this unstoppable rollercoaster my brain gave up completely. Clare had gone to bed to get some much needed rest whilst Erin napped in her travel cot in the living room. I lay on the sofa and tried to keep myself awake by biting the inside of my cheek. Then I realised I couldn’t remember my daughter’s name. Exhaustion has wiped it from my mind.

To get my brain working again I looked at her angelic face, it didn’t help. I tried saying her name out loud in a sentence, “Hi, my name’s Myles and this is my daughter…” but the words drifted away.

Eventually I resorted to reading the message we’d put on Facebook when she was born.

The learning curve on day one is steep and those early moments are a potent mix of fear, tiredness, and an almost claustrophobic feeling of responsibility. They are also a time of great joy and no moment in my life before or since can match Erin’s first night when she slept as I cradled her closely.

Nothing prepares you for the trials of parenthood, but nothing gives you the same reward either.