The ABCs of New Parenthood

Mixon is over two months old now, and as we near the end of the fourth trimester, the head is flopping less, the parents are sleeping more, and the ‘oh my god what have we done-ness’ has started to fade.

Now that I’m an expert at this parenting thing, I thought I’d break it down for those of you who have been there, those who are about to be there, and those who need a dose of schadenfreude. So, here are my ABCs of new parenthood:

A is for “awww” – you will hear/say this more in one day than you have in all of your years combined.

B is for BM – you have never cared this much nor been this close to poop in your life

C – clueless. They send you home with this new human who can’t speak and you’re supposed to know what to do. You won’t. If it’s comforting, remember that every other new parent, regardless of how many books they’ve read or things they’ve bought is equally as clueless. If it’s not comforting, I’m sorry.

Doubt. So, so much doubt. You will doubt your doubts and then doubt the doubting of the doubts. Now the word ‘doubt’ looks weird to me.

Early. Hopefully one of the parental units is a morning person, because you will watch the sun come up on a daily basis. Mixon usually goes to sleep again after he’s eaten, so it could be worse. Maybe it will be in a few months…

F is for failure. You will feel like a failure a good portion of the time. I don’t think this gets better as they get older. So…

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Growth. It’s pretty amazing to watch someone growing up in real-time.

H is for hard. This is by far the hardest thing you’ve ever done in your life.

Internet. Your best friend and worst enemy. I tend to stick to forums and skip over WebMD

Judgement. Judge and ye will be judged. Everyone thinks their parenting style/decisions are best.

K – kids. You will become much more interested in other people’s children once you’ve had your own. See above for why. You will also become weirdly interested in when/if couples without kids will have kids. Misery loves company…

L is for love. There was no ‘wash of love’ for either my husband or me. In fact, you will probably experience feelings of hate in those first few weeks. Not hatred of this helpless creature screaming in your arms, hatred of the situation. But the love comes, I promise.

Mommy – you will call yourself/your partner this, and it will feel weird. Also: daddy. Also: son.

N is for nursing. A much-more-complicated-than-it-should-be process that can knock you down, lift you up, and leave you with a numb arm, painful boobs, and restless leg syndrome. Oh, and magic. And love. And whatever else you’re supposed to feel. Mostly, I just feel a kinship to cows. But ‘breast is best’, so we keep on trucking.

Omnipotent. You’ll wish you are.

P – partner. If you’re lucky enough to have someone you’re raising this child with, it’s images (3)helpful if you have a ridiculously strong partnership. This is especially true if you’re actually trying to work together to make decisions. You will fight, you will cry, but you’ll also see new sides of each other and find similarities that might surprise you. See also: hard.

Q is for quiet. When you finally get an over-tired infant down for a nap, you will do whatever it takes to keep him there. I have never cooked so quietly in my life.

Right. There are no right answers. Keep this in mind when dealing with your P.

S – stretching. Apparently, it’s human nature, because infants basically come out of the womb doing it. It’s adorable. S is also for smiles. Because seriously.

T is for tears. Yours, your partner’s, and your kid’s. There will be tears.

Underfed – Babies are very good for dieting. They see you chomping down on a sandwich or pasta and they start screaming. You eat fast or you don’t eat at all. Babies hate evenings, for some reason, so you can forget about a nice quiet meal at the dining room table.

IMG_1492V is for video. I thought I took a lot of pictures of my dog, but that was nothing. This weird little creature is fascinating, and you’ll want to capture every moment that doesn’t involve pooping or screaming. Though Mix is pretty damn cute on the changing table.

Worry. You will. A lot.

X is for X. There are always plenty of unknowns.

Yes. This is the answer to the question “is it worth it?”

Z – zombie baby. Maybe this is just Mixon, but he frequently gets crap in his throat. This makes him sound like a zombie when he breathes. It’s sad in a funny way.

Clearly it sucks sometimes, but I think (hope) you forget these early days when they start talking (the coos are already awesome) and hugging (we’re getting there) and playing until you’re ready for the terrible twos and it starts all over again. And since I now want everyone on the planet to have kids so that Mixon has a bunch of cool friends, I will say it again. Yes. It’s totally worth it.

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It’s Not a Tumah

There are many surprising things about having a baby: how an outfit that was just right could be crazy tight two minutes later, how a face can change so much in a day, how it is no longer a huge issue to have pee, poop, spit or milk on various parts of my body/clothes, and generally how in the hell we made this thing from scratch.

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What is not surprising is how clueless we are. See, babies don’t make sense. They’re like really bad telenovelas, bringing you higher highs than you’ve ever had just before tele1slamming you with lower lows. From “It’s a miracle, my husband’s sister’s boyfriend woke up from his coma with two working arms!!!” to “Too bad he used those two working arms to murder 200 of my closest friends.”

My husband and I respond to the lows as I think any parent would (any human, really): we see a problem and we want to fix it. The obvious first step is finding out what the problem is. For us, easy, the problem is a sobbing baby. For the baby… well, that’s the question. The pediatrician told us that we should start to be able to distinguish his cries, so that we can understand what he’s trying to “tell” (read: scream at) us, but we have not yet mastered that particular skill.

Here is the list we run down when Mix starts fussing (a word that I never used before having a child and now use on an almost hourly basis):

He’s hungry!

This is my go-to answer, especially since it’s a problem I can solve with a boob, a chair, and a smile. Of course, it takes the kid about an hour to eat, so it requires a bit of prep on my end, but I’m getting good at doing things one-handed. I think I may have deciphered his hungry cry. It sounds like he’s being chased by a cheetah, Bigfoot, and Paula Abdul.

My husband doesn’t love this answer, especially when he’s alone, but I’ve been pumping so that he can solve this problem just as well as (and a lot faster than) I can.

Diaper!

An easy fix for both of us. We’re still using mostly disposable diapers right now, because he’s too little for the cloths we bought, so it’s extra easy. I’m ready for the eye rolls when we switch entirely to cloth, but it’ll still be pretty easy. And this kid is usually freaking adorable when he’s naked/being changed, so that’s an added bonus.

He’s over-tired

This is not a great answer, because we haven’t mastered getting him to sleep, but it makes us feel better to have an answer – any answer.

He’s got crap in his throat/nose

This is one of my husband’s favorites. We’re getting the hang of the bulb syringe for the nose problems (this comes into play when he’s boobing-it and can’t breathe through his nose), but there’s not much we can do for the zombie baby with stuff in his throat. All we can do is gently pat his back and tell him to swallow that crap down. He doesn’t listen very well.

He needs to poop, but can’t

This one was THE ANSWER for the first few weeks, but I don’t think it’s viable anymore, since this kid is a poop champion. My husband disagrees.

Growth spurt!

One of my faves. If he’s eating a lot and fussing a lot, it MUST be a growth spurt, right? Of course, if he was growing each time I suggested this answer, he would be a giant baby by now. I stand by it, though.

SICK

Aside from me sneaking my hand/lips to his forehead every now and then, this isn’t an answer either my husband or I have put forward since we thought he had diarrhea (he didn’t). We’ve been very lucky in this area.

Babies are, of course, terribly confusing, and most of the time, there is no ‘answer’. But for lost-in-the-weeds parents, it’s helpful to pretend there’s some sort of magic cure just waiting to be found. A baby cry cure. Get on it, science.


This Is a Post About Poop

Never in my life did I think I would spend this many weeks obsessed with poop.

When we first got home from the hospital with Mixon, there was nothing happening down there. In either direction. We had a bit of a breastfeeding problem – apparently, it takes a while for your milk to come in, especially if you lose a lot of blood – so we had to supplement with formula. We learned this at the same time my hormones were kicking in, so I was just nuts enough to realize what a horrible mother I must be if I couldn’t provide sustenance for my child. Fortunately, the tears were quickly replaced by a laser-focus on feeding the kid like he was a pig getting ready for one of those weird fat pig competitions.

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Two weeks later, he had passed his birth weight, the milk was in, and we were off of formula. That was a ‘good mom’ day, or hour, or minute, or second, before the next thing comes and you realize that you shouldn’t be using baby powder, or you stuffed your child into an outfit that clearly does not fit, or you can’t figure out what is happening with your baby’s poop.

As I said, the poop was non-existent for quite a while. Apparently, some babies don’t know how to use those muscles. His dad kept trying to explain the joys of poo to him, but it was not happening. On the fourth poop-less day, it was q-tip/vaseline time. We did that twice more before he got the hang of it.

[I have gone to this page ABOUT BABY POOP – DON’T CLICK IT – so many times I’m sure the NSA has decided I’m some sort of sick freak.]

Breastfed baby poop is liquidy and weird, and once the Mix started pooping 5 bajillion times a day, we quickly moved from cheers to diarrhea-fear. Diarrhea can cause dehydration and old Google told me that if your kid is under two months, you gotta see the doc. We went back and forth – I was convinced it was the big D, then the husband was convinced, but M was peeing normally (a sign he was nice and hydrated) and he seemed fine, so we both dropped it.

Some babies poop after (or during) every meal, and our baby is now one of those babies. Apparently, as with all things, this gets better. Around the two month mark, the digestive system kicks into gear and babies discover the art of pooping.

So, now that we’re over the poop worry (for now), what’s next? I think I’ll obsess about his hearing for no good reason.

In other news, this video made me cry before the kids even started talking.