If you’re a new parent, you will find that your parent friends and parent family members are pouring out all their trials, tribulations and joys of parenthood.
Which is great…Now some of you may…
- Eat it all up! It’ll build the excitement of the new addition to your family- you’re now part of the Mommy and Daddy Club! And you must say, it’s fantastic.
- Simply get or already be overwhelmed. Not sure which advice to follow or just lost in what do you do with this newborn baby?!
- Blow past these tips, because you got this. Being a parent, taking care of a baby is common sense right? Plus, you’ve seen how these parents act and you know that you will NOT be caught acting that way, so why would you take their advice?
Most of us have felt all these things. I know I have. Been there, done that. Actually…still doing it. *sigh. No matter what stage you are at or what your views are about parenthood and taking advice, there are certainly some things that you will want to know. Specifically the nitty gritty things that other parents somehow forget to tell you. Or, what probably happened was they locked those memories away leaving no chance to leak into consciousness. Kidding…
Below includes good and not so pleasant things to expect of your baby and parenthood. Just like you get a bunch of stuff for your baby shower to find you’ve been duped- “I really don’t need all this STUFF! Why didn’t anyone tell me?” The only difference is, you find baby shower gifts hyped, but parenthood…in the end, is not. You get more than you bargained for (both good and bad).
There is no way you can fully prepare for what is about to come. I don’t care how Martha Stewart or MacGyver you are. The baby is a bomb- a bomb designed to rock and change your world. And, it will do exactly that. No amount of advice, preparation, book reading, or classes will ever get you ready for what is about to come. It’s one of those things you just can’t understand until you do it. So, prepare as best you can, but know that change is a’ comin’. Now relax and enjoy the ride of parenthood. Well, read on first….
Being a parent is all amazing Part I:
It really isn’t. It isn’t easy. And it really isn’t pleasant at points. Just like marriage, there’s good and there’s bad. But, if you average it all together, the good definitely outweighs the bad. Having a great marriage is work. Having an amazing marriage is hard work. And, having a baby is a lot of work too. But, just like most things, the more work and focus you put into it, the more you and baby reap the benefits. Now that’s honesty for you.
Being a parent is amazing- Part 2:
This is a lie. It’s more amazing and cliche than your brain could have ever imagined. Prepare for your mind and your heart to be blown. You will be owned period, by that light weight, little person. The upside is, unconditional love does exist. You will love them unconditionally. It’s in your little one too. They will look at you like you truly are Superman, and that you are everything to them. Because you are.
You may not fall in love with baby immediately:
This one is a grey area. Some do. Many Moms and Dads do. But, some just don’t. In fact, it is more than just some. Some parents fall in love with their baby around the 2-3 month mark when something called obligatory looking develops, which is when babies fixate on a single object. This is when they make eye contact with you for prolonged periods and are also becoming more communicative and expressive with their face and body. These sessions can be heart melting. Other parents may not feel that strong bond until they become more mobile and verbally communicative. And for others, this doesn’t happen until the baby’s toddler years. My point is, when you fall in love obviously varies from parent to parent, and clearly, it doesn’t happen immediately for many. Don’t beat yourself up. You are not an abnormal or bad person. Be patient, and your little one will win your heart one way or the other.
My Mom told me to follow my dreams…so I took a nap.
Don’t get used to it past the newborn stage:
So, you have been preparing yourself for lack of sleep. Everyone tells you it will happen. The only thing they leave out, is that your baby does a bait and switch on you early on. After the first couple of days in the hospital you may get lack of sleep, and it may even continue as you settle back at home. After that though, your newborn sleeps ALL THE TIME. That’s the stage they are in. Beautiful isn’t it? Because you get a lot of sleep too, and you begin to get cocky thinking things like: “this isn’t so bad. I don’t know why everyone complains about sleep.” Like clockwork, when that thought comes, and it can be as early as the 1 month mark and beyond, your baby isn’t a newborn anymore. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
But…I will say, there is an end in sight.
As if it wasn’t funny enough for baby the first time. This happens again. You have your rhythm down. Maybe it’s bath, dim lighting, read books, and rock to sleep, followed by long relaxation time for you. But, then something called object permanence develops in your baby. It’s a great cognitive development milestone, but stinks for your sleep time. Object permanence is when babies truly begin to remember things- like you. As in, I was just being held in Daddy’s arms and now he’s disappeared and I’m in a bed with bars around me?! You can imagine how startling that would be for anyone. This is the stage that can occur at 6-9 months old. Again, don’t say I didn’t warn you. As far as solutions go, there are many out there. Find one that works for you since there really are many out there and it largely is a personal preference. I personally liked using the swing and read the blog troublesometots.com.
Napping when baby naps:
Everyone tells you this. I just don’t understand why, because no new parents do this. They aren’t able to. Either they have too much stuff to catch up on, spend that time sitting in a chair planning out what to do for baby, or worrying about if baby is safely sleeping ok. Yeah, it’s a nice thought and makes sense….but it’s wishful thinking. Seriously though…you should nap when your baby naps.
1. It isn’t easy, intuitive, or a natural instinct. Everyone naturally thinks it will be, but it just isn’t. There are techniques out there to make sure the baby latches on the nipple well. There are also different holding positions that you can consider trying based on comfort level and if you have twins. It is generally standard procedure to have a lactation consultant come visit you in the hospital to go over these things before you go home with your newborn baby. So, do not worry. The biggest thing I want to tell you is don’t let yourself or others make you feel bad about figuring out the ropes of breastfeeding because that is exactly what will happen. You will need to figure out the ropes of breastfeeding- it’s not a magical, easy start. Your husband will not understand. And sometimes, though lactation consultants are there to help, they apply unnecessary pressure. Let’s face it, they see so many women in the hospital, that I am sure some become numb and forget the rough beginnings. This is only some lactation consultants, others are Godsends.
I happened to meet a woman who told me this warning. Just one, and I was lucky enough to have had that conversation. She said women endure so much pressure in breastfeeding because they and everyone thinks the baby will pop out and the Mom will know exactly how to breastfeed, and that just doesn’t happen. Women need help and to learn how. When it was my time to begin breastfeeding, I held on to her statement and it helped me through the early days. I do not know why other women don’t tell others this. It gives you reassurance during those days when you’re trying to figure out breastfeeding. Stress will take a toll on your breastmilk, so I hope this reassures you enough that if you have a rocky road at the start of breastfeeding and it feels not naturally easy, this is actually the norm- for ALL WOMEN.
I recommend a course in breastfeeding. You can usually find courses given at the hospital you will be giving birth at. Also a good blog that list good resources: http://kellymom.com/ages/newborn/bf-basics/latch-resources/
2. The nipples will hurt. Badly. Sometimes they crack and bleed. Hence, the need for the baby to have a good latch on your nipple. Too much information you say? Nope! That’s what this article is about. To tell you what you need to know that is kept hush, hush. The truth is: it’s extremely painful. The good news is, just stick with it for 2 weeks. Don’t give up. My sister told me this, and seriously, the 2 week mark hit, and bam no more pain. After that, a goose could grab your nipple and twist and you wouldn’t even flinch. Remind yourself you can do this, that you want to breastfeed your baby, and that it only will last 2 weeks. You just gave birth, trust me and yourself, you can do it! The next advice- apply lanolin. The hospital will give it to you. Use it and bring it home! It is amazing….
3. Breastmilk supply: Some people can produce milk until their child is in their teenage years if they wanted to, and others wake up every hour at night to pump hoping to get their milk production to stay as long as possible. We all come in different shapes and sizes, and so does our breastmilk. If you are one that just can’t last until that 1 year mark, don’t let yourself or others make you feel like a failure. You are not. You are an amazing mother. Again, I mention stress will take a toll on your breastmilk which starts a vicious cycle. So, try to relax since what will happen will happen naturally.
4. Once you get past the early days of figuring out breastfeeding and pushing through the painful 2 week mark, enjoy every moment. Remember this: this is the only time that is truly just you and baby. Only you can do what you are doing. They feed so often during that year, but once they get older and you no longer breastfeed, you will have realized how precious those moments were. Relish in that quiet time spent together and the loving looks and smiles your baby gives to you and only you during those sessions.
For parents who use formula:
IF you feel guilty, don’t. It seems like every 10 years or so it swings from breast is best to formula is best. My mother gave us formula because “science” said that was the best thing to give to baby. My point is, either way, we all survived and grew up to be useful adults (*wince…atleast I hope). Ask your pediatrician about formulas they recommend and research which formula will best fit you and your baby.
You will temporarily be paranoid schizophrenic. Kidding on the schizo, but not on the paranoia. The first cough and runny nose will freak you out. And that first fever?! No words to describe the panic that it will send you into. You just have to deal…with whatever it is: he’s not eating enough; is she growing according to the growth chart; when is he going to hit those milestones Penny Sue down the lane already hit; and the list goes on. Remember what I said earlier, your heart does not belong to you anymore. That being said, just know it will happen since you care for this little one enormously. Try to not freak out to the point your little one picks up on it. They are more sensitive to your emotions than you think. A freaked out parent= a freaked out baby, which is not so great when they already feel sick. Also, try not to self diagnose via the interwebs….they will scare you. Stay away! Call your pediatrician people. That’s what they are there for.
So, your baby may not even be qualified as a “real person” yet. I mean, come on, they’re a big, fat blob with what seems their only job is to be cute- too cute. Don’t let them fool you…they understand…everything… You don’t have to take my word on it. Scientists have shown that babies, just minutes after being born, can mimic what you are doing, such as sticking out your tongue. This is what you need to do: understand that your baby, toddler, child really is a sponge! They will absorb and pick up everything you do- good and, let’s be honest, not so good traits of yours. For example: a daughter ignoring her Daddy when she was upset…and umm no, that is not coming from a harsh personal experience…
Even if your baby is a newborn, 3 months old, or 1 year old, don’t let loose too much because you think they won’t pick things up at such a young age.
The difficulty in finding the right temperature that means fever
Why this is so unclear baffles me. Why doesn’t the pediatrician tell you? Who knows. There are many sites that you can take a temperature from: mouth, armpit, ear, rectum, and now via the forehead. Some of these require devices specifically designed to get temps via the forehead or ear. The point is, is that the temperature point that diagnoses a fever will vary based on which site you check the temperature from. The normal temp of 98.6ºF is based on the mouth temperature. Temps taken from the armpit and rectum will give you a slightly higher temp compared to the mouth. The armpit will give you a slightly lower temp. They will tell you that a baby will have a fever when it is 100.4ºF or greater. This is a rectal temp. Confused yet?
So, how do I take my baby’s temperature?:
I listed ways above. Rectal temperature is generally what is recommended in babies since it is most accurate.
How will I know when my baby has a fever?:
The exact conversion between mouth, rectal, armpit, or forehead temperature has not been determined. However, there is an average consensus that medical practitioners use. If we base everything off of a rectal temperature, since that is what pediatricians give as the threshold for fever, then that means a normal rectal temperature for baby could be between 99.1ºF- 99.6ºF. Given what we know above, let’s say you take a rectal temp, then a fever is anything 100.4ºF or above. These numbers can be applied for temperatures taken from the ear. Just know that ear temperatures may not be as accurate as rectal temperatures.
However, if you take it via the armpit, then a reading of 99ºF from the armpit could mean your baby has a fever. Because temperatures from the armpit generally read lower than the temperature readings from the mouth, ear, and rectum.
Just remember that the 100.4ºF threshold for fever is based on a rectal temperature. So, this number will be different if you take it via the armpit or mouth. (Most likely you will not be getting oral temperatures since the baby will not allow you to do so). This article gives you a nice chart to compare based on what temperature and what site. Visit: http://www.webmd.com/children/tc/fever-temperatures-accuracy-and-comparison-topic-overview
Nosey People or those that don’t have anything better to say
After baby #1 pops out, people will ask about baby #2…and then #3…ugh. Enough said. Just be prepared.
Where do they go? The mystery that spans across the globe. In every country across the world, humans have been dealing with this unsolved case. When you have kids, you realize how true this is, especially as the number of kids add up. My recommendation is to not get only cute designed socks, so that it’s more obvious when you have lost a pair. Get generic one’s that can match many other socks! Here’s more recommendations on clothing for newborns.
Did you know almost 50% of carseats are installed wrong (based on a 2011 nationwide survey)? Scary, huh? In addition, many parents do not belt the baby in correctly, generally keeping the harness too loose or placing the clip too low. There’s not much more I need to say than this. Make sure you install your carseat correctly. Most cities will have places for someone to inspect if you have installed your carseat correctly.
Visit here to find a location near you: http://www.safercar.gov/cpsApp/cps/index.htm. Definitely read this article for more information on common mistakes parents make: http://www.parents.com/baby/safety/car/baby-car-seat-safety-check-avoid-common-mistakes/
Finding a caregiver is easy. Finding a good one not so much. Sorry, no real solutions here in finding a good one. The only thing I would recommend is that when you do find a babysitter, know that you do have control over what your babysitter does with your baby, toddler, or child. You do not have to spend a ton of time researching meaningful activities for them to do during the day, and you do not have to rely on your babysitter to do this even though you are paying them. Tell them to go to http://www.tiptopkidz.com where they have a plethora of activities you or the babysitter can choose from. What is even more cool is that they currently offer personalized schedules for your child to make sure activities are included that develop a well-rounded child. You will actually get to converse with an expert directly! They are just in their research, starting phase, so this is all FREE right now. I would hurry and jump on that train when you can…. And, yes, this App is where we pull our smartbabyactivities from.
Hate to break it to you, but having a second child is not so easy as you would guess. I know you’re thi
nking, I survived the first one and I now know what to expect. I can handle another baby and be even better at it! Let’s step back and think about it. It will be 2 against 2.
Not 2 against 1 anymore. Do the math.
I am absolutely not discouraging you from having a 2nd, 3rd, etc child. I, personally love a big family and each child is an amazing gift. However, many parents planning for #2, think they have it down, and I think it is more than fair to warn them properly vs. giving them only Pros. Armed with more knowledge, you will more likely enjoy the time you have with your new addition to the growing family vs. being shocked at the difficulty no-one spoke of.
Guilt and doubt:
You will feel guilty and you will doubt yourself A LOT. Examples: I shouldn’t have eaten all that cheese, he’s going to be so uncomfortably gasey; am I spending too much time cleaning up the house when I should be engaged playing with her; I really should spend more time with him; how did I miss his first word!; dang those stay at home parents; am I setting a good example by staying home with him instead of setting the example of work ethic; maybe this sleep method I chose wasn’t a good idea; I really am not doing enough for his development. I think you get the point. Yes, this will happen a lot, but if you do feel this way a lot, then be resolved to know that’s a sign you are a good, caring parent. It is the definition of bittersweet. No matter how much worry, guilt, or doubt you have as a parent, trust in yourself that you are an amazing parent. Your little one thinks the world of you and is solely dependent on you. You are wanted and needed.
Misdirection- I love you.
If you have not heard about misdirection, this point alone is worth reading this article. It is a parenting trick you will want to know and will last you years into your child’s life. You may have already naturally done so, but still haven’t discovered the complete power of it. Misdirection is basically when you take your baby’s focus on something to something else. You grab their attention away and bring it toward something else more engaging. Employ this when baby is crying or fussing. Let’s say they’re not so happy you took their toy away… “Oh, my gosh! Look at the dog rolling around! That’s so silly!” Bam…problem dissolved. DIRECTIONS: use freely when needed.