A little bit of context to understand us.
I’ll cut straight to the chase — no one can ever make non-parents fully understand what it’s like to become one. The good and the bad.
I’m going to try my best to describe the ugly:
The lingering thought at the back of your mind that your baby is going to pee at you at every nappy change.
Let me assure you, that at one point or another, you will get peed on, especially if you have a boy. I got pooped on once, too. It was a projectile poo when my son was about 3 months old, and it went everywhere. On my hair, on the walls either side of us, on the changing mat, on his and my clothes, on his feet.
Man, I can’t wait for my son to read this when he’s an adult.
Needless to say, that over a year later, it’s still a thought that goes through my mind at every single nappy change, and it probably will be until I stop changing nappies. Which right now feels like never.
The unpredictability of sleep.
Your sleep, not your baby’s. You already know your baby won’t sleep on cue right away.
This was one of my biggest worries before I got pregnant. It’s not unknown that newborn babies just don’t sleep.
I did learn one thing – sleep deprivation is a b*tch.
You just cannot predict the future with deductive reasoning – your baby will not form a pattern of any kind for some time. It’s actually up to you to guide your baby on forming a routine with sleep.
Good luck with that!
When your baby decides to surprise you by sleeping 5 hours straight when they’re a couple of weeks old you won’t sleep – because you’ll be consciously or unconsciously thinking about whether your baby is too hot; too cold; in the right sleeping position; breathing “right”; whether she needs a nappy change; whether she’s hungry; or whether you should get some washing done since it piled up for 2 weeks and you have no clean underwear left.
Your baby has no sense of day time or night time until she’s around 8 weeks old.
Your baby doesn’t give a rat’s a** whether it’s day time or night time until YOU teach her to give a rat’s a**. Enjoy! I’m grateful now that my son sleeps through but guess what? I do not.
This is where on a serious note I highly recommend teaching your baby to sleep very early on.
It’s not about us parents rocking them or feeding them to sleep but about letting them fall asleep on their own.
You may manage to do this on your own and be an absolute boss but I needed help from a professional. At 4.5 months of age, my son learned to fall asleep independently and doesn’t protest at every nap and bedtime (no, we didn’t use the “crying it out” method either). I may not wake up naturally every morning but I get time to myself for around 11 hours a night and 2/2.5 hours during the day to do everything I need and want.
And of course, here is the good catch to this.
Welcome to the days of waking up to a beaming smile of this tiny version of you who needs you unconditionally and wholeheartedly and who will remind you every single time that it’s all worth it. Honestly, the amount of love and gratitude I feel every morning for my little man makes me feel so high that nothing else matters.
The sound of the monitor beep to tell you it’s got a low battery at 5 am.
It’s a small thing, but it’s a thing.
Not only does it make you alertly rush to find a charger because you’re worried about losing that bit of one-sided communication with your child, but you also worry that the sound of the loud double-beep will wake up your sleeping beauty because it’s so friggin’ loud. Just keep the thing plugged in at all times to avoid it happening or face the annoying consequences.
Days out around a baby’s naps.
Remember the days where you would get up, get ready and go out for the day? Maybe pack some food to go?
Treasure those memories, folks, because if you care about your sanity, you will want to take extra care of your baby’s nap times. Gone are the days where you were free to go out for hours on end and see your friends, maybe go on a spontaneous boat ride along the canals, drinking wine and taking that Uber or train home while on your phone reading or catching up on Netflix.
Your baby may sleep well in the buggy, but he’ll need more than one sleep in the day up until he’s around a year old and he won’t settle well each time on cue.
You can try to be cool and lie to yourself by thinking you’ll sit through a 3 course-meal uninterrupted, but in reality, it won’t happen. Your conversations will have no beginning and no ending and it’ll all be a blur because your mind will be much too busy taking care of the physiological needs of your baby – i.e. food, hygiene, and shelter.
Your days out will be half-days out at best if you want to keep your sanity.
But don’t worry – you’ll enjoy them all the same and you won’t resent your child at all. If anything, I use my child to get out of many things now, so there’s your silver lining. You’re welcome!
Whether your baby will have a tantrum in public.
The answer is yes.
At some point, you will be judged by other people about how you lack both “control” of your baby and experience of being a parent. You won’t have a clue what to do to keep her calm.
You’ll be fine.
It’s annoying, but your baby cries for a reason and it’s up to you to deal with it. She’ll learn to tell you what’s wrong when she’s bigger.
I joke again! She’ll have tantrums when she’s bigger as well. *claps hands hysterically*.
Joking aside, children will be children and intolerant people will be intolerant people.
As my husband says “a chair is a chair and a table is a table”. Don’t expect people to change for you and suddenly become sensitive and considerate, in the same way that you shouldn’t take their judgemental tuts to heart.
I think there’s a real lesson in not caring about what others think here. It’ll be up to you to learn it or not.
Once, in a supermarket when my son who was around 2 months old, he was crying so much everyone was staring. He had a very loud and dramatic kind of cry, even at that young age. Suddenly, there seemed to be nobody around, presumably because all the customers were repelled by the sound of my son’s desperate cries for goodness knows what. I had picked him up and was pushing the buggy with the basket of shopping underneath.
I was clearly struggling.
A worker came out of nowhere like a fairy godmother and actually offered to let me take my baby into the staff room for a sit down on their sofa and a cup of tea.
I didn’t take up her offer because I was in a hurry to get home, but I felt so good knowing someone would go out of their way to help me and expect nothing in return. My son was fine once we got to the car and I felt great on the drive home.
Hopefully, every new parent will have at least one good experience like this.
With all the public embarrassments there will also be wonderful experiences where you’ll be told how good your baby was. During a flight to Greece when our son was 5 months old, the air hostesses and stewards told us they had never seen such a well behaved baby. Although I say again — it shouldn’t matter what others think, it’s nice to share your pride for your child with other people, isn’t it?
As a new parent, you will be tested time and time again. You’ll question your sanity, your identity, and your principles. Your priorities will change.
But it’s so much bloody fun.
. . .
Share this with new and expecting parents.
This post was previously published on A Parent Is Born and is republished here with permission from the author.
If you believe in the work we are doing here at The Good Men Project and want to join our calls on a regular basis, please join us as a Premium Member, today.
All Premium Members get to view The Good Men Project with NO ADS.
Need more info? A complete list of benefits is here.
Photo credit: Unsplash