Any parent will tell you that your first baby brings with her a shortage of many things. You are short on sleep, short on money, short on space, etc. But one thing there is no shortage of… advice. The moment people find our you are expecting, the advice starts flowing.
“This crib is bad.” “Don’t even try to travel.” “Sleep with one leg off the bed so it’s easier to get up in the middle of the night.”
I don’t remember getting any advice that I’ve identified as “bad,” but that’s probably because I don’t remember most of it period. Between childbirth class, your OBGYN, your pediatrician, your parents, your siblings, your grandparents, nurses, and anyone who has ever babysat, you start to tune things out, knowing that eventually you’ll figure it out yourself, and that most of these people will be available for consultation… and likely still offering advice, both unsolicited and at your request.
Now, I want to pause and make sure I’m being clear that we absolutely want and appreciate all of the help and advice given to us by our friends and family. I’m not complaining one bit. My sister, for example, has been instrumental in helping us to not stress about every little thing we are doing, while giving Keri guidance in certain areas that has really made life easier.
Additionally, there is a major “wow… they told me about this but I never really believed it until now” factor. Honestly, that probably has more to do with forgetting about these little nuggets than anything. You can’t really fathom what is coming and the sheer volume of input makes you a little dismissive, especially of the things that really aren’t all that important, but true and interesting all the same.
But as this first week of parenthood has gone by, things keep happening that have jogged my memory a little bit. “Oh ya, I kind of remember someone telling me about that.” So I’m going to share. Not because I think anyone I know will ever pull out this blog post and use it as reference, but just because I like writing about stuff, and the opportunity to make fun of Robert Kiyosaki was just too good to pass up.
Parents are going to read this list and laugh at me because, well, “duh.”
Here, in no particular order, is a list of the things that somebody probably (or definitely) told me that I’ve experienced for the first time:
- You will get excited about poop – I think I first heard this from Bill Cosby. It’s mostly because various types of poop indicate different stages in the progression of health and development in the first few weeks. When Keri and I first say the meconium bubble emerge from that tiny little booty, we not only smiled and cheered, but we literally congratulated our daughter on her accomplishment. And it happened about a dozen times after that.
- You will accomplish more on less sleep than you ever have, or thought you could – Now, I think everyone I encountered, including those without children, warned me of this. I just took it for granted that we would make it, but never realized how true it would be. What surprised me most is that I could sleep 2-3 hours a night for 3-4 nights in a row, and still function like a normal human being. Most of the time you don’t even realize how tired you are.
- You will be able to sleep anywhere, any time, at a moments notice – This is a skill that some already possess, but it’s a new one for me. Sleep is so precious that I can get a 5 minute nap any time I want, in basically any position. Even caffeine only serves to keep me awake if I WANT it to. I could drink the equivalent of a pot of coffee and it will help me stay awake. But the moment I decide to pass out, it has no effect on me whatsoever.
- It’s very difficult to accidentally break your baby – There’s actually a documentary out about this now, but Americans tend to be overly careful about their children, operating as if death, disease and kidnappers are around every corner. So the first time you put a diaper on your child and she screams as if you’ve broken her arm, you think you’ve done just that. The reality is that she screams because that’s what babies do. Seems like common sense, but if you haven’t experienced this yet, trust me… you’re going to over react. Even if you read my super helpful guide to things I should have paid attention to
- Don’t plan on ever sitting through an hour long TV show again – I don’t think this needs explanation… more important shit comes up. And usually it is actually shit.
- You will help nurse your baby – Doesn’t seem rational, but you’ll have some sort of hand, literally, in the nursing process, at least in the beginning.
- No matter how much money you think you will spend on pregnancy, birth, and the first few weeks of life, you’re wrong… it’s going to be a lot more – Most people at least try to plan for expenses, but stuff just comes up. We have diaper service, but because Hanna is so tiny, we still can’t use it, which means about 1 30 box of Pampers every 2 weeks or so. That’s just one example.
- The advice will keep coming – I think I explained this earlier, but if you so much as post on Facebook about a booger in your child’s nose, you will get 17 responses about how to get it out. At least one response will involve an expensive and unneeded piece of technology. Once again, I’m not complaining about this, it’s actually nice to have such a sounding board and to be able to talk about your parenting experience with other parents, even if you don’t agree with the advice they give you. But it does happen constantly.
- Your baby will startle at the slightest unexpected touch, but completely ignore loud noises that she heard in the womb – for us, this meant barking dogs and squawking birds. And if you know our birds, you know that when I say squawking, I mean screaming in an ear piercing nature that is so loud you can get a headache if you’re too close. But Hanna doesn’t even bat an eye. Conversely, touch her hand with a cold finger and watch out…
- 99% of the things you will worry about are normal, but you will still worry – Is she eating enough? Not enough? Too much? Is she sleeping the right number of hours? She cries when she’s not supposed to. Etc. When you check with your doctor, there’s a great chance that they will tell you to follow your instinct. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t continue to check with them, but nothing is ever as dire as it seems.
So these are the little things that give me cause to smile. I’m sure most of you reading this have experienced all of them at one time or another, but