2 things I’ve learned from having a newborn for a month.

So, William is now officially just over one month old. As a new father, I’m learning some very surprising and useful tools for dealing with him and maintaining sanity. Most of which revolving around that short period in the evening when either Suzanne or I want to get some rest. Overall, the kid seems to be healthy and happy, so I think the first month has been successful. He is starting to look at people more and respond to conversation which is really nice because before that he always seemed totally lost to everything.

I was thinking the best way to lay out this month is to put down the 2 main things I’ve learned to share with other possibly new fathers coming down the pipe so they don’t make the same mistakes. Pretty simple stuff that you don’t realize really matters until you need it.

#1 It’s not safe to go to sleep naked

While sleeping naked wasn’t a common thing for me, every once in a while I’d come out of a bath, be comfortable and just crash. I have discovered that this really isn’t wise once you have a kid kicking around, and not just for when they grow up. You may be needed at a moment’s notice to spring into action, and unless you have access to a self-dressing Iron Man suit, you are going to end up having to work (and run around your living quarters) in the buff. As a father, your duty is to take action when the mother is tired and exhausted and just needs a few more minutes rest before she has to breastfeed again. This means keeping the baby quiet while you address all of his needs.

Before you have a newborn, this isn’t entirely a problem. Once you get a moment to breathe, you can throw on some pants or a shirt and be off to work. However, you don’t get the luxury of taking your eye off a bawling newborn for that long. If the baby cries too much or too loudly, you will have failed at your primary task, ensuring mother gets a few more winks of sleep. If the baby is calm, but on a changing table, you really can’t take your eyes off of them for a moment. Thus, if you are naked when you start, it’s quite likely you’ll be naked while carrying a crying, wet, and possibly random-liquid spraying baby with you while trying to desperately calm him down.

All of which could’ve been avoided if you threw something comfortable on before you went to bed.

#2 At night, go pee before you change the baby

Do you know what almost always takes longer than you’d expect… changing a baby’s diaper. It’s not that it’s complicated. It’s actually one of the easier tasks I have to do day-to-day. However, there are always surprises.

Everyone knows about the sudden pee fountain, which is easy enough to avoid and usually just involves another diaper change. This, however, is the least of your concerns. The ones I’ve cataloged so far include:

  • the baby volcano, where just as you get a new diaper in place and ready to tie up, baby decides to take the longest and most bubbly poop ever. So named for the resemblance to the science volcano from when you are a kid and the fear you have that it will either burst or spill over the edges of the new diaper.
  • the poonami (I’ve stolen this from a friend), where baby suddenly decides to expel liquids from all orifices at the same time. Ensuring a fun and extensive clean up time as baby giggles at you.
  • the super-duper-pooper, baby poops just enough to ensure you need to change his diaper, waits for you to complete the change when, *Bblllrrprpr*, he poops just enough to require yet another change. Wash-Rinse-Repeat for about 3-5 runs.

Now, imagine having to pee really badly through all of this, and knowing you can’t actually go pee until the baby is properly dressed and back in the crib safely. As well, having the weird impetus to pee emphasized by the fact that baby has no problem at all peeing… everywhere.

I realize that both of these revolve around baby, nighttimes and bodily functions. However, for the first month, that’s really where 90% of your memorable interactions with baby come from. During the day, when you are sane, clothed, and awake, the interactions are fairly straightforward. Baby will eat, sleep and poop, almost like a cat. Your job is to clean up the poop and ensure he keeps on eating.

At night, unlike a cat, baby will continue these operations and still require you to be on the ball, being ready for this is key for any new father, and having read very very many father books I never saw these two lessons listed out.

They are important.

Trust me.

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