Absolutely everyone with the slightest smidgeon of experience with children (and quite a few with no experience!) has advice they want to impart. You will quickly find that most of it is conflicting, sometimes ridiculous, often offensive and still more often it is just plain laughable. Regardless, I now feel compelled to add my two cents’ worth to the confusing mix!
1. Do what you want
This is by far and away the most important of my little gems of wisdom. From the minute (and even before!) you get pregnant you will be the recipient of the above-mentioned unsolicited advice. From the most well meaning of people. Be as polite as you feel the need to be and then ignore it. Or try it, if you feel it might work for your family. But don’t, for goodness sake, feel that it’s gospel just because it comes from another mother, your parent, Plunket or even your Doctor. Opinions are just that. The clinical trials and the textbooks have never studied your child or your family or your relationship. Educate yourself. Find out the facts. Listen to others’ experiences. And then do whatever the heck you want if it works for you and your family! One of my very good friends told me “read the books … and then throw them away and get to know your baby.” Things finally started going right for me and mine when I followed her very wise words.
2. They don’t break
When my first baby was only hours old, the nurse strode into my room and proceeded to manhandle my child in ways I never thought possible (or legal). She seemed to throw her around the room and tie her in knots, flipping her over and under and around and upside down. She eventually handed her to me looking like Ghandi after he’d been through a tumble dryer in his white robes. That kid was done up tighter than a straight jacket and with not a buckle in sight (it’s called swaddling, by the way). I couldn’t figure out whether to have instant heart failure or to lay a complaint over the careless way in which my child had just been flung about. I would have checked her for bruises if only I’d known how to undo the darn wrap! But actually – it turned out my bubba liked being wrapped up tighter than an Easter egg! She stopped crying (well – once she’d pulled and grunted and tugged and snarled and got one arm free). So I had my first lesson in swaddling and simultaneously learned that they don’t break. Granted – it’s not good to drop them on the floor, but really, they’re pretty bendy, forgiving little things!
3. It’s not a doll
Okay – having said all that about them not breaking … nor are they dolls. You know how you used to balance your doll on its head so you could pull her trousers over her legs? Nope. Won’t work. Re-read the thing above about them being bendy. Just watch how the nurses do it. If all else fails, wrap them in a towel. So long as they’re warm and dry, they don’t give a flying fig about the art of clothing.
4. They will make you cry. They will make you laugh.
The experiences you have as a parent will drag you to the depths of depression and they will take you on highs that you have never experienced. You will belly laugh at the dumbest things in a way you haven’t done since you were a baby yourself. You will sit on the floor and sob until your eyes and throat hurt. You will doubt yourself 100 times over. And the minute they need you, you will go back and willingly offer them your soul all over again in a heartbeat.
5. Babies smell good.
Look out for this one. I’m not talking baby soap, or baby powder – it’s the actual baby. Some people I’ve spoken to haven’t experienced it, but both my babies smelled soooo good. Better than chocolate. I wanted to eat them (maybe I’m part praying mantis). Seriously. I used to pick up my new babies for a ‘kiss’. It looked like a cuddle, but if you had watched closely, you would have seen that I was actually having a good long drawing-in of baby-scented air. Even their breath smells good (note that I’m talking brand-new baby here, not toddler. Toddlers stink). But try it. Just a furtive sniff when you first get a chance. I hope it’s there for you.
6. Babies look funny.
You watch – the drunk look when they’ve just had a good feed. Hilarious. Get a photo; they’ll love it at their 21st. Same when they’re doing a poo – the studied concentration, then the surprise, then the relief. Get one of those cameras that can take photos in quick succession.
Ok, that’s it for the advice and tips for today. I’m dry. Downloaded. Please add your own tips and I’ll see what percolates in my head overnight!! ;-)