We recently had a couple over who are about to join the parental team any day now. We’d never met them; the guy was a brother of a friend back home, yadda yadda. The important thing is that we met them, the wife is about 38 weeks pregnant, so naturally I assumed the discussion would be largely centered around parenting. So I thought I’d very subtly get the ball rolling.
“So, what do you guys want to know?”
“I mean, about parenting. Or birthing, the whole enchilada. Surely you must have some questions. This is a safe place. Go ahead and fire away.”
“Well…I don’t think we really know what to ask yet,” he said.
Hmm. Yeah. Okay, that made sense, actually. I’m so used to comparing notes now with other parents that I’d forgotten what that pre-game stage was like. All packing hospital bags and painting nurseries and stuff.
So instead of a Q&A format, the next few hours were more of us sharing thoughts, memories and observations. Things we wish we had known, things we would have done differently, etc. Here are a few highlights:
- Ask for help. We are still poor at doing this, but we understand the importance of doing it. Babies are a team effort. If people ask how they can help and you can’t think of anything specific, tell them to bring food.
- Babies make noise. I don’t think we EVER figured this out with our first. He slept in the bassinet in our room and every time he snortled, coughed, snored or otherwise produced more than three decibels, we’d pop up and rush to see what was wrong. That leads me to…
- Baby monitors only monitor how much sleep you are losing. Nothing like having those noises amplified and pumped directly into your eardrum. If your child really needs something, he/she will cry. And as instinctual as crying is, it is equally instinctual for you to wake up.
- Newborns are boring. Probably a nicer way to say that, but they just don’t do a whole lot. They sleep, they wake up mostly to eat, then half the time fall asleep again while eating. They are not quite cute yet, they can’t sit up and they don’t know any good jokes. So assuming there is no severe weather, take that baby out for a stroll or a car ride. Speaking of car rides…
- Yes, that IS as secure as a baby seat can be. We rented a car, first trip after Bub was born. Rental place wouldn’t help us install (their) car seat. I fiddled around with it, it was still a little loose, like it wiggled a little bit side to side. Even though I did the knee thing, tightened the belt all the way, it still moved. A little. We wasted like an hour, finally went to another rental place. They were friendlier, but the seat still moved. They all still move. They are against soft surfaces. This I now know.
- Get cable. Check that, get cable and a DVR. We never had cable before the kids. But now it makes so much sense. You will be spending a lot more nights in, and the kids go to bed early, but we still have to be here. Also, my wife was up every night either feeding or pumping for months. That takes time. Might as well squeeze in an episode of Modern Family, right?
- Babies are individuals. I know, duh, right? But what I mean is that having two kids has shown me the value of nature. Kids really come out engineered and coded a certain way; lots of personality traits pre-determined. This means of course that much trial and error will be required on your part. So if you get stuck, or what “should” work isn’t working, try something new. Parenting is the original on-the-job training.