At a dinner party recently, friends of mine announced that they were expecting their first baby, and immediately two thoughts went through my head. 1) Thank goodness it’s them and not me (at four kids, I think I’ve filled my quota), and 2) My oh my oh my you don’t know what you are in for but maybe I shouldn’t be the one to tell you. As the proud papa-to-be explained quite rationally how he planned to keep the home theatre basement sacrosanct as “Daddy’s Room”, (to snorts of derision from all of the experienced fathers around the table) I thought about all the expectations new parents have, and how quickly the baby will scupper them. As we left them that evening, I was asked if I had any words of advice for them as they entered this new and scary part of their lives. There was so much I wanted to say, that couldn’t be thrown out during a quick hug, so I raced home and wrote down my advice, which I’d like to share with all new or expectant parents. Those of you who have children already will recognize some universal truths.
Whatever goes in has to come out. You can never have enough soothers. The first time they roll over will always coincide with the first time you lay them on the couch without a wall of pillows. There will be poo. There will be no room in your house which is bereft of baby equipment or stains. You can never have enough sleepers. Yes, going through almost 20 diapers a day with a newborn is quite normal. Yes, your house has always been this dirty…you just never looked under there before. The first time your baby truly sleeps through the night will not be the first night of uninterrupted sleep you have had since the birth – you will be up 14 times to ensure the baby is still sleeping. A baby monitor magnifies a baby’s screams – keep the volume low. Mozart didn’t have “Baby Mozart” playing when he was in the womb and he turned out fine. Crib sheet manufacturers are playing with you – those sheets are really ½ inch too small all the way around.
You will obsess about the baby milestones in “What to Expect”. Not all children are toilet trained by the time they go to kindergarten. Take advantage of the fact that your baby cannot walk or talk. In no time you will be telling them to sit down and shut up. (Funnily enough, when they are teenagers they will regress to grunting and slumping.) The folds in a baby’s neck smell wonderful…unless there is some cheesy milk nestling there. Urine has a mind and a life of its own. Your dog is just a dog. Husbands can be generally useless and it is an accepted social norm. Yes, of course your child is more special than anyone else’s. Yes, this allergy thing is really weird. No, they don’t need proper walking shoes until they actually start walking. Yes, that is too much money to spend on a stroller.
You will remember their first word, first step, and first “I love you.” The week that it happens. Then it will be gone. But the residual feeling will last a lifetime. As will those stretch marks. Enjoy.
Kathy Buckworth’s latest book “Journey to the Darkside: Supermom Goes Home” is available at bookstores everywhere. Visit www.kathybuckworth.com and read Funny Mummy every month.