Becoming a parent comes with the crashing realization that you KNOW ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. You can read books, you can talk to other parents, you can talk to your own parents. And you will still know jack squat when you take that baby home for the first time. I could fill my own Wikipedia with what I still don't know, but here is what I have learned.
The good news is that once you do know, you are a gall dang EXPERT. You will have Strong Opinions. Then your child will throw you a curve-ball and you will feel like a dumb ass again. It's a wonderful roller coaster of expertise and braindeadness. Welcome to parenthood.
Click here for Vol. 1– Postpartum
Newborns are nuts
I had no idea how much grunting newborns did. Couple that with their WTF face, various baby weirdness like stork bites, bald spots, and chronic eye boogers and you may think "Can I return this?" But I promise it will pass!
Thanks to the internet, I quickly learned those little envelope folds on the onesie collar serve a purpose. It's so you can pull the onesie down over their poo soaked little body and not over their head. Remember this at 3 AM when there is poo...everywhere.
A wise friend told me to turn the ruffles out when putting on a diaper. ALWAYS TURN THE RUFFLES OUT.
Cutting nails and Toe Jam
Cutting nails is so terrifying but once you get the hang of it it’s almost fun. You must do it every 48 hours or your baby will Freddy-Kreuger their own face. Their Wolverine-like talons will all grow at different speeds, ensuring you can never relax on this front. Inspect them every day and be prepared to be covered with tiny chest wounds from your little slasher. Also, weird black crap will end up between their fingers, toes, and under their nails from scratching and God only knows where else so be sure to cut them frequently or very gently scrape under them to clean. I used a metal scrapey thingy from a manicure kit but usually when you cut them the gunk goes with it. Qtips and cotton balls are good for removing fuzz between toes also.
I haven’t experienced these but all I needed to see was one awful Facebook post about it and now I always check. Basically a single strand of hair can wrap around baby’s toes and cut off circulation and cause bleeding. No thank you ma’am. Check baby’s toes frequently!
After coconut oil failed, I tried Mustela Baby shampoo and now it’s gone. Coincidence or it actually works? Who cares. Just buy the damn French organic baby shampoo. Cradle cap is nasty.
Diaper rash sucks
It may not bother your baby much but it feels like a failing report card. The most expensive cream ($12 for 4 effing ounces? Motherf*cker!) will be the most effective, but as long as the bum is dry before you apply, you will be fine.
Much like many other dumb thoughts I had before becoming a mom I thought women who posted their baby's poop on Facebook (in mommy support groups, they had some judgment) were batsh*t crazy. Then I had a baby. Her first poo out of the hospital resulted in my husband and I giving each other an exultant high five. What we don't think about as adults without children is that poo is the ultimate indicator of health. The color, the texture, the frequency - it all points to your success as a parent. You see that poop you know you've done a good job. Beautiful, yellow, seedy goodness is as good as a straight-A report card. Just don't tack it to your fridge you weirdo.
I was very fortunate to receive bags upon bags of hand me down clothes. I sorted them all in an order that I thought made sense. I was so wrong. First of all, those tiny snaps will turn your hands into a wizened claw if you're not ready. At 2, 4, 6 AM, you will not be able to see straight let alone fasten a bunch of tiny ass jerk snaps.
My advice for new parents is to graduate to the next level once you have mastered the first.
Level 1: Zip up sacks
This is basically a bag with sleeves. This is my new go-to gift for every new parent. Sleeves are still pretty hard but there is no escaping them as newborns should not be wearing tube tops.
Level 2: Footie sleepers with Zipper
Zippers are your friend. Lay this down on a safe surface, place baby on top. Wrestle drunk limp little arms through saggy cloth tubes and Zip that ish up. Go for the ones where they zip top to bottom so you don't have to have a nakey baby during diaper changes.
Level 3: Gowns
It is very scary to put anything over a newborn baby's giant head and floppy neck, then quickly get their limp drunk arms through the saggy cloth tubes. However, the bottom is open so once you are brave enough to get that ish on, you can just lift it up to change diapers and then slide it back down.
Level 4: Footie Sleepers with Snaps
You are now ready for snaps Daniel-san. The bonus is that you don't have to put these over baby's head but you do have to deal with those saggy cloth arm tubes and a crazy amount of snaps. However during a diaper change you only really have to deal with the bottom. Some are kind enough to only snap up one side. Once you get the hang of snaps you are ready for....
Level 5: Onesies and Pants
Onesies require both over the head AND snaps. Also, depending on weather you will also be forced to put pants on your child. When you are postpartum (and all the bleeding, aching, sleep-deprived joys that come with that) the last thing you want to do is wrestle with pants. But damn if they don't look cute in those little coordinated outfits!
Level 6: Anything with snaps or buttons on the back.
There is really no point in them wearing these unless they can hold their head up. That way you can pull them into sitting to get to these or put them on their tummy when they can lift off vs. smash their face into whatever surface they are on. Kudos if you can fasten anything with one hand whilst holding them. That is some next level ish.
Co-Sleeping will save your life.
You heard me. It's safe, it's natural, and it's the best especially if you are lazy and love sleep as much as I do. Follow the Safe Sleep Seven rules for breastfeeding mamas and get some sleep! I would seriously be insane if I didn't do this. Plus baby snuggles are the best and you can now spend as much time as you do working cozied up to your little nugget! I could probably write a whole post about how amazing it is.
Babywearing is the Sh*t
I got the Ergo carrier and was semi successful getting my floppy little monkey child to sleep in the insert. It has a lot of buckles and really is better suited for bigger babies. I was generously gifted a hand me down ring sling and it changed my mother effin' life! It's very easy to get the hang of. Watch this YouTube Video to get started. It's perfect for being able to GSD (get sh*t done), put baby to sleep and eat while nursing (mama's gotta eat). I never leave the house with out it. It's a real gateway drug to those woven wraps I'm about spend hundreds of dollars on. I recommend joining a babywearing group in your local community (if you don't have to work during the day) or following one on Facebook to see lots of tips, tutes, and pictures of moms trying to figure it out.
Don’t let sick people near your baby if possible
You will feel like an a**hole because you could have prevented it and spend the next week suctioning boogies (so satisfying), running the humidifier 24/7, and feeling your heart break every time you hear a pitiful little cough.
You will get sick anyway.
Welcome to daycare which is basically a petri dish of every childhood illness. Your child will have a stuffy or runny nose basically forever. Since you touch at least 3 doorknobs to get into their room at school, make sure to wash your hands or drench them in sanitizer before you shove that drive-thru breakfast sandwich in your face on your drive to work. Or guess what, you have strep throat! Good luck not getting a crazy rash because you are now allergic to antibiotics. Party!
I say that I wish I had known all of these things but I don't think you can fully understand any of this until it happens to you. Your experience will be different from mine but I hope we can learn from each other. You will want to share everything you learn and be grateful for all the blogs, Pinterest posts and Facebook groups. Your village can be as large as you wish it to be and soon you will join the long line of women that stretches back into our earliest history - the sisterhood of mothers.
Nice to meet you!
I am a tech pro, blogger, DIY'er, reader, TV binger, music lover, nerd and semi-crunchy mom. I write about professional development, being crafty, motherhood and politics. Thanks for joining me and letting me share my thoughts with you!