Bundle of joy coming your way soon? Is the diaper bag all packed and ready for the hospital? Nursery all set up? Newborn clothes hung neatly in the closet?
Sweet! You’re ready!
Maybe not? Well, here’s the lowdown. The things you really need to know about having a baby. Toss aside that What to Expect While Your Gut’s Exploding and Your Cervix is on Fire and Your Boobs Throb and Burn like Giant Blazing Orbs of Terror and You Swear to God You’re Gonna Hit the Man that Did This to You Over the Head With this Damn Book, book.
I’m gonna give it to you straight, first-timer. You can trust me. The following facts are coming from a mom who has endured ten years of loaded diapers, leaky bottles, breastfeeding fiascoes, postpartum depression, asthma, colic, croup, never-ending ear infections, and night terrors (mostly mine).
These are the things that will change once you have a baby:
- Your house will smell like poop.
You may go out and drop some serious cash on a Diaper Genie. You may think this will somehow magically dispel the noxious waste that will be sitting there for days. You will be wrong. And you will fight over taking turns to empty it. The diaper pail almost ruined my marriage. When my youngest was finally potty trained, my husband and I were so ecstatic, we renewed our vows. At the end of the ceremony, we set fire to the diaper pail and danced around it naked under the moonlight. Nothing says romance and freedom like flaming poop.
Oh, you’re using cloth diapers instead? Yeah, I did too, for a time. Poop. Poop everywhere. On the floor and in your hair. Poop on your socks. Poop on your smocks. In the washer, on your hands. I do not like this Sam I am, I do not like green poop and ham. Sorry…where was I? Oh, yeah. Basically, your days will be an endless slog through poop. And you’ll find yourself discussing your precious Miracle of Life’s bowel movements anywhere, anytime.
“Oh, God! It was horrifying! You should have seen it! It was blue! The poop was blue! And brown! With a little pea-soup green mixed in! It was so nasty! And chunky! And it was this huge amount too! Like someone had dumped a bucket of elephant dung down my baby’s back!”
“Yeah…that’s….great. Uh…can you pass me the baked beans, please?”
- Strangers will come up to you constantly.
From the time you’re pregnant, to the time your child is a terrible two, everyone on the street will want to approach you. Grandmas are the worst. They’ll come at your baby with the accuracy of a heat-seeking missile. “OH! He’s SOOOO cute!” Soon cheeks will be pinched, germy hands will be poking chins and bellies. Arm yourself with a giant bottle of Purell. Threaten to throw it at them. It’ll be okay. Once your baby is three and throwing a massive tantrum in aisle 9 of the Stop-n-Go, no one will ever want to go near your child again.
- Suddenly everyone is a parenting expert.
No matter how you decide to raise your baby, there will always be someone ready to tell you that you are wrong.
“Oh, you’re formula-feeding? Well, that’s bad for the baby!”
“So, you’re nursing? Oh, that’s terrible!”
“Binky? It’ll ruin his teeth!”
“Thumb sucking? He’ll be in therapy!”
“Co-sleeping? She’ll be in your bed forever!”
“Wait! Come back! Why are you running away? I didn’t get to tell you how you’re ruining your child’s life forever because you’re not feeding her organic alfalfa sprouts mixed with guava juice and your own saliva!”
- You’ll find yourself doing gross things.
Sticking your entire face in your baby’s butt to smell if they’ve pooped or peed. Licking a warm brown spot to see if it’s poop or chocolate. Licking your finger to clean off dried bananas on your baby’s face. Then tasting it to make sure it’s banana, not poop. Reaching into your baby’s nose to extract a crusty booger. Digging around in their nostrils like a mama monkey picking nits off her baby. You’ll do all these things in public. At a restaurant. You won’t even care. If it’s disgusting, you’ll do it without batting an eye. You’re a parent now. You’ll be scooping puke out of car seats, changing diapers on top of trash cans at gas station bathrooms, whipping your boob out at Target to feed your screaming baby as nipple pads flutter to the floor in some twisted ticker tape parade. Days of modesty are long gone now. Welcome to survival mode.
- You’ll do anything for sleep.
My firstborn never slept. My second baby slept much better–sometimes five hour stretches at the age of two months. I’ve seen both sides of the sleep spectrum. I’ve been to hell and back. As a newborn, my son slept an hour if we were lucky. Naturally, we did anything to get him to fall asleep. We sang, hummed, hushed, cooed. We wrapped him in a blanket burrito, bounced him, rocked him, walked in slow circles while hushing and humming the theme to Three’s Company. At one point, we took turns driving him in our car around the block over and over at all hours of the night. Severely sleep deprived, the turning point came at 2 am one night when I saw Mr. Furley standing in my kitchen using my breast pump. This stuff happens. I’m not trying to scare you. Just remember to get, at least, a solid block of four hours sleep, trust me on this one.
- You’ll be so in love, it hurts.
Oh yeah, that baby of yours will steal your heart, rip it right out of your chest, and hold it in their chubby little hands. Pieces of it will break off over time. This is when you realize all the above is worth it. Or that God really did make babies cute, sweet, and lovable for a reason.
As my husband once eloquently put it (after another sleepless night with our newborn son),
“Can we take him back to the hospital? Just for a few hours, so we can get some sleep?”
So congratulations on the new addition to your family! Savor every moment. Forgive yourself for others. You’ll make mistakes. The first baby is just for practice anyway. You’ll get the hang of it, hopefully by your second or third.
And I’ll be here for any parenting advice.
My best advice: Don’t listen to anyone’s advice, especially mine.