Stuff newborn moms should know

I think Heather and I have both been pretty honest here: We were shocked and disappointed by how boring our babies were after they were born. They never said, “Hey mom, let’s go get you some new jeans and a latte.”

Spending all day with someone who has no suggestions for conversation topics or activities can get lonely. That’s why we started blogging.

In addition to being surprised by my son’s dull personality at the tender age of three weeks, there are a few other basic things about babies that I learned in that first year. Other moms have told me about facts that they were surprised to learn “on the job”, too. Here are five important truths about babies that should be learned by every pregnant woman.

  1. Babies sleep a lot, perhaps even 20 hours a day at first.  If a baby is awake for two straight hours, the thing to do with him is put him back to sleep. He may even be ready after an hour, but does not know how to drift off on his own. Much of what a new parent spends her time doing is putting a baby back to sleep.
  2. Diapers leak. It does not matter how masterfully the diaper was put on the baby, sometimes shit leaks out the sides or top. For realz. My husband, a problem solver with a strong work ethic, had a hard time accepting diaper failure. My advice is to discuss this fact with your partner and agree that you will not blame one another when your infant’s jammies are soaked from ankle to neck. It happens.
  3. Babies like to suck. That’s why pacifiers were invented. I’m not suggesting you use a pacifier, but it is important to acknowledge that your child’s urge to suck is normal and they may want to nurse for hours because it feels good. I personally used a pacifier with my children when I learned how much it soothed them. The element by which I was surprised is how long their urge to put things in their mouth lasts. Six month-olds and sixteen month-olds definitely want to jam their fist, your glasses, and that disgusting tissue that’s sticking out of your pocket into their mouths as quickly as possible. Six YEARS old? Yep, they still want to, but they pretty much know better.
  4. Feedings are frequent. A new baby needs to eat every two to three hours. I’ll do the math for you: eight to twelve times per day. I put this in writing for you because although Heather observed me care for Julian for six months before having her own baby, she assumed my boobs were only needed for breakfast, lunch, and dinner equivalents. She was overwhelmed and bewildered to learn that her postpartum body was on call to provide sustenance with such frequency when Holden was born.
  5. Babies will make you proud. Whether you are basking in the pride of creation or the act of adoption, you will do things you swore you’d never do because you are convinced your baby is the most amazing thing that has ever happened to anyone ever.  You will take more pictures of your immobile offspring than you can store on your computer. You will tell people the most granular details about your life as a parent, such as what time your child woke up for the past nine mornings, as measured in minutes. You will secretly feel superior to your friends who have chosen not to have children, because they don’t even know what the meaning of life is. I’m not saying this to make fun of you. I say this because I feel this way. Because my own babies (ages 7 and 4) are still a marvelous novelty to me and I am truly proud. I am saying this because every expectant parent thinks, “I won’t be that way,” when their friends tell boring stories about sleep training or strollers. Yet the fact is: you will.

What knocked your socks off or left you confused after the birth of your child? What else did Heather not know when this photo was taken?

Heather at Week 39 holding Whitney's 6-month old. What is he going to do with those strings from my shirt? What? Why would he put them in his mouth!?

Note that we have a book coming out this spring called Stuff Every Mom Should Know and none of these facts are in it. Whoops!

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RookieMoms.com co-founder Whitney lives with her husband, son, and daughter in the San Francisco Bay Area where she writes about parenting, crafts, and activities that moms can do with babies in tow. She and Heather also publish 510Families.com, a site for East Bay parents and are the authors of The Rookie Mom's Handbook and Stuff Every Mom Should Know.