Becoming a new parent comes with a whole list of new challenges and experiences. Leading up to the birth of our son, John, my wife, Rose, and I tried to prepare as much as we could. We read books, downloaded apps and watched videos to make sure we had all the right skills and had purchased all the right supplies. We were so exhaustive in our search for knowledge that at one point we fell asleep while watching a video on how to put the baby to sleep.
Despite all this careful preparation, I found there were so many things that still caught us off guard and threw us for a loop. Below are five of those peculiarities of parenthood that I managed to jot down between diaper changes.
1. Everyone you see has advice for you
Oh yes, everyone is some kind of parenting expert. Most of the advice will start with the phrase, “You are going to get a lot of advice … oh and what worked for me is …” All advice from one person conflicts with the next person’s advice. The challenge here is you really don’t want or need any advice. You really just want to take a nap. This, of course, leads to the next unexpected reality:
2. The only question anyone will ask is “Are you sleeping?”
The only true answer to this question is no. Anyone who has a newborn baby and answers yes to that question either has already secured 24-hour childcare or is lying. New babies need to eat every 2-3 hours, and at least one or both parents need to get up to make this happen. Asking this question is like asking someone that just went swimming if they got wet.
3. Your day slows way down
Most days, the biggest choice that you get to make is to sleep or shower. One morning, we noticed how nice the weather was outside and decided it would be a great day to take the baby out for a walk. By 8:30 that night we finally had made it out of the house for our walk. I have no idea what happened during those 12 hours because it literally felt like we spent the entire day getting ready to go for this walk. I understand that I have to lower my expectations for what it means to have a “productive” day.
4. You will get peed on
I had heard about this and always assumed it was because people were careless. This was the one that I was sure I could avoid. But John found a way to pee on us anyway. The first time involved watching one of those special covers, called “pee-pee teepees,” go airborne. At that point I wasn’t even mad, I was just impressed. After that, I considered moving the changing table away from the curtains, but have yet to find the energy to deal with it.
5. Poop is now a central part of your life and it doesn’t even gross you out any more
When your child is born, the hospital will give you a chart and ask you to start keeping track of how many times your kid poops. From that moment, you will become consumed with the need to know anything and everything about your child’s poop. You will scour the Internet for information about what colors are normal. You will ask the doctor over and over again to confirm that there is not a poop problem. You will ask the following questions several times each day:
“Did the baby poop?” “When was the last time the baby pooped?” “Is that poop on your shirt?”
Eight weeks in, all I can say is that a big part of parenthood is about facing these surprises and so much more. It’s a window into the world of a psychotic person. Having a baby was the biggest disruption to my life that I have ever experienced, but I am not even mad about it.
That’s the crazy part. I am not one bit mad at the little person who caused all of this. How could anyone be mad at this kid, just look at that face!