Higher learning

So, it’s been nearly a year of parenting for us. We’ve gone from blank slates to feeling like we may know a thing or two about how things are done (and still have a lot more to learn!). Here’s a list of some things that come to mind that have stood out as important lessons/realizations over the past year…

1. Don’t tell people the due date…tell them at least 1 week later. In hindsight, we wish we had known this sooner. With a baby that decided not to even think about heading out into the world until a week later, and a labor that lasted 2 days beyond that, it was pretty darn irritating for people to keep calling to basically see if “you’re still pregnant?” Better to just keep the real due date to yourselves.

2. Don’t tell people the name. You might have the best name picked out in the whole world…but if you don’t want feedback on it, don’t tell people what it is. We are so happy we didn’t tell a single soul. Even when we were admitted to the hospital and they wanted a name for his bracelet before he was born, we insisted on “Baby Boy” [last name]. People have a lot less to say about the name once it’s on the birth certificate.

3. There is no need to stock up on toys. You may think you need the latest Fischer Price gadget or Einstein Baby musical headache-inducing toy, but really, your baby will be just as happy….no, more happy to play with the following: boxes, remote controls, flatware, cups, lids, containers, pillows, books, their own feet, water, cell phones, paper, towels, wrapping paper rolls, snot sucker, diapers, etc. In fact, you may try your best to offer the newest $50 thing you bought, and your child may still insist on playing with the package it came in.

4. Save every original box and receipt, for EVERYTHING. We cannot stress this enough. We have returned diapers in sizes he grew out of, carriers that didn’t work well, a jumper, unused bottle nipples, and so on. I don’t care what it is you just picked up from Babies R Us, put that receipt in a safe place for a few months.

5. You know not to compare your child to every other child but you will anyway. You may have the best sleeper/eater/talker/mobile child in the world, but if they’re not [insert skill here] like your friend’s kid is, you may start wondering why. Unless you truly have reason to be concerned, don’t sweat it…your kid will get there. They will.

6. You may or may not keep to your original parenting plans- you end up doing what works. You may set out to breastfeed for a year, to cloth diaper, to never touch a drop of formula, to co-sleep, to keep the tv off, or to do the opposite of everything I just said, but sometimes these things may not work out like you expect. Parenthood is about rolling with the punches. Goals are great to have, but if you hold yourself too strictly to them, you may end up feeling like a failure when all you’re doing is trying to stay afloat.

7. Stock up! I’m talking about mylecon, gripe water, tylenol, ibuprofin, pedialyte, benadryl, and at least 2 types of diaper paste. You never know when you’re going to need those or what’s going to work, and if your child spikes a fever or a rash at 3am, the last thing you’re going to want to do is find a 24-hour drug store. On that note…

8. Your child will get fevers that scare the shit out of you. That first fever is a very scary thing. So is seeing a number like 103 or 105(!) on a rectal thermometer. Remember, fevers are the body’s natural way of fighting off illness. The most important thing is- how is your child acting? Curly has had high fevers but still ate well, slept well, and kept on playing. And the fevers responded to tylenol/ibuprofin. But listlessness and dehydration –> get thee to a doctor.

9. Sunshine makes stains disappear. It’s a miracle. Seriously, I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. If you run poop-stained clothing through the washing machine and put them in direct sunlight to dry, the stains magically disappear. Speaking of poop…

10. You will constantly talk about baby poop, as well as be fascinated and humbled by it. At some point, you will find yourself having a nice dinner with other friends who are parents, and all of a sudden you will be talking about the color and texture of your kid’s poop, as well as regaling each other with tales of blow-outs that rendered you speechless. It’s a whole new world.

11. You will not matter anymore. Only the baby. Gone are the days when your family and relatives cared about you. Now it’s “How’s the baby?” and “What’s the baby up to?” and “When can I come visit (the baby)?” Shocking but true.

12. The baby clothing market is irritating. Baby clothes get more gendered as they go up in size, girl baby clothes are full of ruffles and lace and pleating and puffy sleeves, and they stop making certain very convenient articles of clothing the bigger children get, such as onesies, rompers, and footed pajamas. Baby clothing would be just as convenient for non-potty trained or non-walking toddlers, and yet the world of clothes changes drastically after size 18 months.

13. Babyhood will go by quicker than you can possibly imagine.

Got anything you want to add to this list? Or have any questions you’d like to ask re: the first year? We’d love to hear!

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18 responses to “Higher learning

  1. The poop talk is so true! Who’d ever have thunk BMs would be dinnertime conversation?

  2. I’m amazed you use the rectal thermometer. We could never get the nerve to do so. Good for you.

  3. #10 (baby poop) made me laugh, so very true!!

    i wish we hadn’t told folks the due date either, it was so aggrivating to hear “you’re still pregnant?” every day! and we did the same thing with the name, even at the hospital.

    if youre taking requests for advice, we are getting ready to start solids in the next few weeks and id love to hear your thoughts/experiences/advice on that.

  4. I am saving all of this for future reference! I had already decided to lie about the due date and not speak of names or genders, but having your validation makes me feel even more strongly about it. I actually think I will post this on the fridge for when Speedyblob actually gets here.

  5. Les Make Babies

    Great list – I only have two additions:

    14. As hard as it will be, resist the urge to buy any baby clothes that are size 6M and smaller. Your friends and family will LOVE buying baby clothes, and you’ll get way more than you’ll ever use at your shower.

    15. Do yourself a solid. During your 2nd and 3rd trimester, if you find yourself at Target or Costco – buy yourself a value-size box of diapers in the 2-3 size range. By the time your baby (ies) grow into that size, you’ll be tired and broke and happy to have the stock.

  6. First off – thank you for your thoughtful response on my post today. Much appreciated:)

    I agree wholeheartedly on not telling the name! FOR SURE. I also agree about the clothes. Everything is SO boy and SO girl.

    The first fever IS scary. Now I don’t even come close to freaking out when he has a fever.\

    I have to try the sunshine for stains! That’s great!

    Here’s another one –

    -You WILL get lots of parenting advice. Most people are just trying to help and some of it may be really beneficial. So listen and pick and choose what you hold on to.

  7. These are all great insights from your first year, and I know those of us who have the younger ones, who are expecting, or ttc, all look to you experts for advice!

    I’m definitely going to try the sunshine on the stains!

  8. I agree about the poop talk. I said I would be the one parent who didn’t speak of their kid’s poop, but I was totally wrong. And just when I thought we had exhausted every aspect of frequency, color and texture, she started solid foods which brought all new things to discuss.

    One piece of advice I would add, that I wish I had been given (and that I now give to everyone who will listen) is to not beat yourself up about what the “experts” say you should be doing. I was brought to tears on numerous occasions about the topic of sleep. I was supposed to be putting her down awake, keeping the house noisy, patting her instead of picking her up, not letting her nurse to sleep, etc, etc, which would have been fine if she ever slept, but I was never able to do any of those things and I was so stressed about it and worried that she was learning bad habits. When I started just doing what worked and ignoring what everyone else said I should be doing, we were all so much happier (and better rested).

  9. Love this! Thanks. You should write one of these each year or maybe every 6 mo.

    I’ll be buying more baby meds this weekend while I am out. Good point about not wanting to go out for it in the middle of the night. Smarty.

  10. wishinghopingpraying

    I agree with all of this! There is a lot of poop talk, which both amuses and shames me 🙂

  11. Re: #11
    I’m sorry if I ever did this one. I don’t think I’m guilty of this particular sin, but who knows! I try to make sure when I talk to Nutella that I ask how she is doing….BEFORE I ask about Miles. I can’t wait to see you ALL next weekend!

  12. Rebecca- Tends to be generations above that do this this. No worries 🙂

  13. inlocoparentis

    Great list! We’re only 4 months in, but this is what I would add –

    Shop at garage sales for baby gear. Do not obsess about whether your pack n’play matches your carseat matches your swing etc. Your house will be such a disaster after the baby comes that you won’t even recognize it. It does not matter if your baby gear is cute or new, only that it’s functional.

  14. agreed! #5&6 are still hard ones for me but they do get easier with time. sometimes it is easy to get lost in the details….which leads to #13.

  15. I love this too! We are starting to register for things. Gripe water and baby meds and diaper paste, on the list, stat. 🙂 I wish I could follow that advice about names and due dates – it’s so wise. Why are people so nosy about them? Seems like the first question we get these days: “Do you have a name?” Arrgggh.

  16. I love this list! Ironic timing: A friend asked me what names we are considering and I naively listed some of our early thoughts. Her responses could not have been more tepid: trust me we aren’t even entertaining the odd ones like Mortichai or anything. I came home and told Joey about the experience. We decided that we are not telling until the babies are either born or at a very late shower. Lesson learned!

    I think I will save this post and add it to a baby-binder. 🙂

  17. These are great tips, especially #1. We were almost 2 weeks late, and at some point we just stopped answering the phone!

    I’ll have to save this for later.

  18. I found you and this post through a link on Schroe’s page. I’m bookmarking it. Oh, and hello.

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