- You expect your world to narrow a bit. You can’t just bounce out the door
whenever you want, and besides, you still need to figure out what the hell you’re
Even so, it’s a surprise when your thoughts are suddenly consumed by poop, and poop exclusively. Smell, color, texture, volume, frequency, how it arrives, how it departs, which clever literary references describe it best.
Friends told you this would happen, but still. You realize you’ve hit rock bottom when you start gushing at a dinner party about soft, even grains in a thick yellow paste. Don’t fight it. Embrace it. (The talking, that is. Not the poop.)
- Asking other parents for advice is like reading the Bible. It’s a deep well, and there is some good stuff in there, but it’s couched in language you don’t understand, and when you do piece together a few bits, they all contradict each other.
- The advice you hear most often isn’t really advice at all, so much as a
doomsday prophecy. “Your life will change forever,” they intone vacantly. “What
should I do? How can I get ready?” They laugh, “There is no ready. Forsake all
hope, ye who enter parenthood.”
This is, of course, maddening. It’s the biggest change in your life, bar none – marriage isn’t even in the same league – and you can’t prepare for it. If you’re used to bending the world to your will, this will be tough. You can’t help it. You’ll read books, buy clothes, put together a nursery, and that’s all well and good, but it won’t matter. When she arrives, it’ll still hit you like a ton of bricks.
- Sleep deprivation. This is the other advice/doomsday prophecy you hear constantly. Know how you greet new parents with the gentle joke, “Getting any sleep?” It’s no joke. They’re not getting any. They’re up all night, feeding and rocking and pacifiering and white noising and not sleeping. Night after night after night.
- Having said that, we’re pretty lucky. Brooke was extremely chill for
her first month or so. She’s more awake and vocal now, but still, she’s pretty
damn easy. We have no idea which god smiled on us after all the goats we
sacrificed, but we won’t argue.
(I’m totally kidding, Baal, we know it was you. The goat’s in the mail.)
- The cats have been great. They took a few days to warm up to Brooke, but now they love her, and they’re very gentle. In general, if you worry about pets attacking your baby or smothering them, don’t. They’re more likely to get kidnapped by the chupacabra. Instead, worry about actual dangers: falling into the pool, getting hit by a car, developing allergies and metabolic syndrome (among others) due to oversanitizing.
- …but you won’t get much chance to worry at all, since one of the biggest things you lose is unbroken time. Love going for a long run, playing a great game until 2am, curling up and reading a trashy book cover to cover? Too bad. Free time now comes in 5-15 minute bursts. Get used to running laundry back and forth, playing Candy Crush, and reading Facebook posts. Pro tip: try podcasts or audiobooks, they’re hands free.
- The worst part might be the unrelenting sense of helplessness. If you’re
accustomed to controlling your environment, being productive, getting things
done, hoo boy get ready. A baby will smack you upside your head. The first
time they scream for an hour straight and you can’t calm them down, no matter
what you do? That’s tough. The tenth time? The hundredth? Straight up
Take a step back, leave her in the crib and close the door and catch your breath. She may be pissed, but she’s also healthy, vibrant, and damn but she has a pair of lungs on her. She could be the next Lady Gaga.
Repeat after me. The baby will cry. The milk will spill. The diapers will blowout. It is as it ever was, time and time again. Amen.
- I’m obviously not much for helpful tips, but I will happily shill for one
bottles and pacifiers. They’re great.
I don’t know what it is about babies and burping and farting, but it’s kind of a love/hate relationship. There are techniques and positions galore to avoid swallowing air, but in the end, Dr. Brown’s bottles worked for us. Brooke stopped fighting and actually relaxed while she ate. Winner winner bottle dinner!