Life after Birth – weeks 0-4: Working in Theatre has trained me well!

She has arrived! Juno Susanna Dunn was born on 24th September 2012.


It’s nearly a month since she was born and somehow I haven’t managed to write an entry in all that time. Funny, that! As I had imagined, these first couple of weeks have been comparable to entering the black-hole that one does at the start of technical rehearsals. The comms blackout (due to the all-consuming show activity, antisocial hours and/or lack of phone service) may not be quite as extensive because writing messages with the iPhone in one hand whilst feeding as about all you can achieve and people are particularly keen to hear news at a time like this so you can’t really deny them.

In actual fact, there are a few parallels that could be drawn between working as a Projection designer on a Theatre show and having a newborn child. The sleep deprivation is very comparable – both the sense of adrenaline plus lack of sleep that one gets during tech as well as the show-lag that follows but instead of being on a two week cycle, you swing between the both on a daily basis. I’d even go as far as saying that the sleep deprivation is on occasions worse for a projection designer on some shows than having a newborn baby so I feel I have had some element of training in this respect. As I mentioned above, there is a sense in which a show is all-consuming once it goes into a Theatre and the same is true of having a baby to look after: in both cases, you just need to feed the beast and there’s no way it can wait. There is also a similar sense of creative achievement that counters the hard work and lack of sleep. And of course, as with any good show, you are intrigued to watch its progress once launched upon the world.

Apart from these (possibly tenuously drawn) comparisons, however, my role in life has undoubtedly changed. I feel a little like I’m embarking on a sort of sabbatical in a way. I guess I’m lucky and have been extremely well supported by my husband so that the first two weeks of my daughter’s life felt not unlike Christmas with cards, family, good food and a rather amazing present. Once he was back at work, Juno and I started to form our own little rhythms of life and what has now emerged is a vastly different routine where everything revolves around keeping her safe and well and the house accessibly tidy so that things can easily be found. There is no time for more than one or two additional activities per day – be it a trip to the doctor’s or seeing other new parents for a coffee and a walk. Thanks probably in part to the hormones, I am actually quite relishing this state and the prospect that it will be the norm at least until the New Year. But how time flies when your achievements seem so few and far between beyond basic survival! But as my Mother-in-Law says, the day’s main achievement is shown in a happy and healthy baby.

On the work front, I have paid a visit to the Knifedgers and they have seen evidence of me coping OK, which seems to have demonstrated the potential for my attending the odd meeting with the little one in tow. As a matter of fact, I have a few meetings booked in for mid November for 2013 / 2014 shows, by which time Juno will be nearly 2 months old plus I am helping my Dad with some friendly Am-Dram too. I think meetings in particular can work for me (depending on what kind of a night we’ve managed to have) – I just don’t know how it would work if I had to spend extended periods working on the computer as we don’t really have a routine of naps of any sort yet and I am inclined to try and sleep when Juno does where possible (surprisingly rarely so). But all in good time! From 6/8 weeks I hear it starts to fall into place so these meetings are probably well timed. At least now she’s born, I can tell if my child is likely to be an unsettled, grumpy, needy thing or not. At present, she’s pretty well-behaved so I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

I had planned this blog to cover my pregnancy only but for my own sake, I may keep writing as and when I have time and anything to report. It may be especially interesting when I venture back into the Theatre so watch this space, if you care to but don’t hold your breath as it’s taken me weeks to start this entry and days to complete. But here’s to the start of the second bit of the journey…

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