I don’t know about you, but when I had my first baby it was quite a shock. I went from lunching with my friends, wearing nice clothes, and leaving the house everyday to never getting to eat when I wanted, only wearing pajamas, and staring at the wall or television most of the day. It was a sad, sad life, which I am glad to say has now ended. It just took me a while to figure things out. But, if all of the baby books had mentioned a few important bits of information before I’d given birth, the transition probably would have been easier. Here’s what I wish I’d known.
1. Don’t buy lacy, silky, or fancy clothes for yourself or the baby.
The baby’s lace will rip, meaning they can only wear it once, or get caught in the baby’s tiny fingernails. Your silk will stain, most probably with your own breast milk at a time when you are NOT breastfeeding.
2. Breastfeeding hurts. Need I say more?
3. Babies poop a lot, and will do so on you with little or no warning.
My daughter once shot poop from her bottom across the room and it landed on my arm. I know, you’re thinking: “Why wasn’t she wearing a diaper?” We were in the midst of changing her diaper when this mishap occurred. Also, a good friend of mine once had her baby poop all over her skirt in the middle of church. There she was, sitting on the pew, minding her own business, when her baby decided to do his business and her skirt was suddenly holding a puddle of yellow excrement. Diapers can only hold so much.
4. Babies don’t like headbands, hats, or any accessory for that matter.
I spent so much money (and hope) on cutesy, flowery headbands or outfits with matching hats and shoes, yet all those extras came off after only a minute or two. And once, my youngest screamed in the car from a doctor’s appointment to home (a fifteen-minute drive or so). When I finally got out to check on her, she’d had her headband over her eyes and was screaming because I had accidentally deprived her of a most important sense.
A little side note here to just combine and sum up my first point and my fourth point: Babies aren’t dolls. They are people, albeit very tiny and sometimes ugly ones.
5. Babies don’t sleep.
Okay, so maybe the books do say this, but it should be more emphatic. Like this: BABIES DON’T SLEEP!!! I didn’t really understand that this little person would wake every two hours day and night wanting to suck on my chest. I didn’t realize how tired I would actually be after a month of doing this. I didn’t realize that my children’s night-waking habits would die hard and well after their first birthdays. And for both of them, the first night home nobody got any sleep. It consisted of me holding them both the entire night, trying to sleep sideways on the couch or sitting in a rocking chair while trying not to move so that they wouldn’t wake yet again screaming for no reason.
My former boss, Alex, used to joke that when people said they slept like babies, he’d say, “Oh, so you woke up every two hours crying and hungry?”
6. Babies don’t stop being babies until they are about three years old.
That’s when I felt normal again. I turned to my husband at our oldest daughter’s third birthday party and said, “I feel like myself again.” I don’t know if that says more about my babies or me, but it was rough. And I would say that children become truly delightful when they are five years old, only to have everything go downhill as they slowly descend into being tweens and teenagers.
7. Babies are invalids.
Yes, they are. You will be caring for somebody who can’t walk, talk, roll over, use the toilet, control their arms or legs (or bowels), or smile. You’ve essentially given birth to a vegetable that is awake and has motor function but cannot control it.
8. Giving birth is a beautiful, spiritual experience. It is indescribably wonderful (and painful) all at the same time.
9. Once you have a baby, you’ll forget about all of the above and love them more than anything in the world.
My favorite baby book is Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth. Brilliant man. Lifesaver. I only wish he could be my children’s pediatrician. What’s your favorite baby advice book?
Now, it seems like my list is incomplete. It needs a number 10. What would you suggest baby books include that they don’t?