need-to-know baby facts!

by humanmama on November 4, 2013

A long-time friend of mine recently had a baby. It was such an exciting time, because this woman has known for decades that she wants to be a mom. She has planned. She had prayed. She had finally found an incredible husband and she just knew the time was right. She has worked with kids forever and she knew just what she was getting into!

But, of course, she didn’t. She had no idea of the confusion, the sleeplessness, the heartache. She didn’t know the exact (and surprisingly long) amount of time she could exist on just cat naps She wasn’t aware of all of the interesting fluids a woman’s body can produce. She didn’t really know, although she had worked with children since she herself was merely a child, how to have a baby, for 24 hours a day. No, taking care of the baby is easy, really, but taking care of your mental health at the same time? Challenging.

So for her (and for all of you out there), I was thinking of the five things you actually need to know when you have a baby. These are the first five I thought of, though please, please comment below if I’ve left some out. Here you go:

1. ) If you think you’re a bad parent, you will buy more stuff. Everywhere–on TV, radio, internet, in magazines, movies, and even out in public, we are being sold to. If we thought of ourselves as good enough and just fine, we would probably think “Eh, I don’t really need anything more.” So, that’s where the marketing begins. The market needs you to feel terrible about yourself and your (lack of) parenting skills in order to sell you things. Need advice? We’ve got a book. Need tools? You betcha. There are myriads of the proper things to have to make you a “good parent,” from the glider/rocker chairs to baby monitors. From the proper baby-wearing-wrapper to the correct $100 shoes (even though they don’t walk yet!). So here’s my advice: let’s show them! Let’s agree to not buy into the notion that to be a good parent you have to buy a ton of stuff! (And guess what? You don’t!)

2. ) You’ll need to develop a strong ear for tuning out people. (Wait, maybe that’s really just a weak ear.) Because from now on, no matter if you beg them to tell you or beg them not to tell you, everyone and your mother will be giving you advice about what to do and what not to do with that baby. So if other folks’ misguided advice bothers you? Ignore them. They’re doing their best to help, so just do that thing where you nod and smile and pretend to listen, and put yourself in your mind’s tropical vacation destination for five minutes. Preferably while they hold your baby and you down a margarita.

3. ) Feeding and sleeping: they suck. I’m so sorry: there’s no two ways around them. Sometimes you have a baby who just seamlessly transitions from life in the womb to life on the streets, but usually, you don’t. Colic, reflux, sleeping whenever the hell they feel like it: that is a baby. It’s rough. But don’t worry: it’s only really rough on you. In five years (I know this is hard to believe) that baby will be sleeping through the night, at least sometimes, and it will only be a little old rusty memory, this time where s/he didn’t sleep right or eat right at all. Just because your baby doesn’t sleep a lot or eats every 5 minutes does not mean that you’re doing something wrong. This is something I see moms and dads everywhere struggle with: it’s like, if they sleep, I’m a success! I was very, very much this way with my firstborn. But then when the second baby came around I realized: it’s a lot of personality, too. One kid slept, one kid didn’t. One kid had reflux, one didn’t. You’re doing a good job. It will happen in time. Don’t stress so much.baby mine

4. ) Getting the baby to eat isn’t as hard as it seems. This is something very pervasive that I witnessed time and time again in the hospitals. They (seem to) spend a lot of time when you’re pregnant saying “are you nursing or formula-feeding?” and implying that nursing is the best. But as soon as I had all three of my kids, the staff at the hospital said “S/He isn’t gaining weight/wetting enough diapers/ could be too jaundiced/ is waiting for your milk to come in AND NEEDS TO BE SUPPLEMENTED WITH FORMULA!” This is not true. You do not need to supplement with formula. You can, and I did, and some of my kids nursed for almost a year and some nursed for 3 months, but, for better or worse, if you keep trying to nurse your kid without interruption, you’ll make enough milk to feed that baby, dammit! Please don’t doubt yourself, just refer to #2 and ignore them. If you want to breastfeed, it will happen, especially if you keep telling yourself you can do it and maybe go to a remote desert island. If you don’t want to breastfeed, good for you too! You’re not a failure. Check the labels, buy the formula, and get to work.

5. ) You are the expert. Whether you’re the mom, or the dad, whether you just bore this little one after 40 hours of labor in a midwife center or adopted her from a faraway country, no matter what happens, you’re the expert on that baby. You spend the most time with him or her. More time than anyone else. If your partner is involved, that’s wonderful! If not, that’s okay! You are still the expert. You call the shots. Don’t worry too much about what you’re doing wrong. Trust your senses (I know, they seem a little off after only cat naps, but they’re still there), and just relax. You know what you’re doing. And if not? It’s okay. Soon someone will come along and tell you what you’re doing.

Oh, and, P.S.? If you don’t want to read all my advice? I understand. You go to your mental tropical daydream destination. But, actually, let me drink the margarita: you’re breastfeeding.

 

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