Things Learned in the First Month of Having a Baby

A common conversation around the house regarding baby: "Have you tried X technique? It worked yesterday." "But today isn't yesterday." Seriously, just when you think you've gotten the hang of something, the pattern changes.
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The first 10 days

  • I always wondered how I'd occupy my time during parental leave, since I wouldn't be working -- new babies sleep for most of the day, right? Then I discovered that feeding baby is a one hour-ish process and needs to be done 8-12 times a day at regular intervals. It's like I wake up, blink, and suddenly, it's mid-afternoon.
  • Every day feels like a week, probably because of the breaking up of sleep into multiple segments. Also: The sheer number of photos taken, which is about seven times the number per day compared to before.
  • Newborns smell great! My baby's scent reminds me of sweet cream and rice. Apparently, this is a thing.
  • Sometimes, when baby is about to get into a cranky mood, it looks like bad, over-exaggerated dramatic acting.
  • My husband doesn't know the lyrics to "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." It's like he didn't grow up on this planet.
  • There is an entire genre devoted to lullaby medleys of pop songs. Like Lady Gaga lullabies, U2 lullabies and Madonna lullabies.
  • Hats. Hats are the best. I have yet to encounter a baby hat I didn't like.

Days 10-20

  • I've never used Google search as much as I'm using it now. I feel like an advertisement for a Google commercial. "What causes baby eye gunk?" (Answer: Blocked tear duct) "When does baby acne go away?" (Answer: Weeks or months, see doctor if it persists after nine months) *cue sweet lullaby music* *fade to white, with Google logo*
  • Related to the above, I finally caught on to that thing young people have been doing for years, which is watch YouTube videos with titles like, "how to ___." For some reason, my husband and I ended up watching a bunch of UK-produced videos, which means we've inevitably picked up a bunch of British baby terms. Like "wet nappy," and "remember to wind your baby," and, "don't forget to let your baby have a good naked kick-around."
  • Baby has never met a car ride she didn't like. Which makes me wonder why there isn't something in the market that simulates this exact feeling. Billion-dollar idea right there. (Another billion-dollar idea: figuring out how to bottle your baby's scent.)
  • Record number of diapers changed in one diaper-changing session due to "open air" accidents: Four.
  • Trying to get your baby registered as an official person when you've had an emergency home birth without a doctor or midwife present is a lot like Minecraft in that you need to collect a bunch of "ingredients" before you can use them in a "recipe" for a better item. For example: Doctor's affidavit of pregnancy + one ambulance report OR one fireman's report + residence power bill = one birth certificate. One birth certificate + one pediatrician's report = one SSN card. Birth certificate can unlock more later on (like passport!), so it's kind of like the crafting table equivalent of documents.
  • Best "mommy" item purchased for self: Barefoot Dreams cardigan and blanket. Seriously, it's so soft it's like how I imagine a garment spun from puffy cotton-clouds to feel. I live in this cardigan and blanket.
  • Adventures in bottle-feeding, the upside: getting five hours of straight sleep for the first time since before the baby was born!! The downside: Body can't even handle so much sleep in a row, decides afterwards that it's going to refuse sleeping for the next many hours and instead focus an overactive imagination on questions like How will I talk to my baby about dating? and What's the best way to help your child deal with societal pressures on body image?
  • The excitement of baby gaining weight! (Because when else does adding pounds invoke so much delight?)
  • The wistfulness of baby outgrowing her first few hats. (I coped by going on a larger-hat buying spree.)

Days 20-30

  • Spending time with a newborn feels similar to being on a safari. The main activity is observing -- watching the dozens of expressions she goes through in a minute, seeing her little chest go up and down, looking at those little arms flail about. (She makes a lot of little squeaks and grunts too, so there's some listening involved.) Baby is a small creature governed entirely by nature, and so observing becomes a fascinating leisure activity.
  • If baby is crying and we can't figure it out, the de facto line is "oh, it's gas."
  • Wearing your baby via a carrier is a game changer. All of a sudden, hands are free, baby doesn't need to be watched every second, you have a personal little heater attached to your chest and baby is happy with the arrangement. (When I do this, it feels like an extension of being pregnant. When my husband does this, it's adorably kangaroo-like.)
  • A common conversation around the house regarding baby: "Have you tried X technique? It worked yesterday." "But today isn't yesterday." Seriously, just when you think you've gotten the hang of something, the pattern changes.
  • Since feeding is such a time-intensive process, anything "productive" on my to-do list takes an average of three extra days than budgeted to complete. On the other hand, consuming is easy. In the past month, I've finished four books, listened to the entirety of Serial, watched two seasons of TV and three movies, read an average of 20 articles every day, and stayed up to date with every trending topic there is -- comet landing, Kim Kardashian breaking the Internet, Ebola, chocolate shortage , etc. This is the perfect time for me to get onto some current events game show or attend cocktail parties where I can stun people with my vast knowledge of water cooler topics.
  • Baby is growing bigger, stronger and more alert by the day! Although (besides more exciting tummy times), what this most practically translates to in the day-to-day is more dynamic and spirited crying.
  • When I was pregnant, I thought that there might be times when I missed my pre-baby life -- the freedom, flexibility, lack of accountability. Since then, the challenges have been daily, but so far, I don't miss a thing. Life evolves, and the road ahead is wide open with too many shades of wonderful still left to be discovered.


Photo: Mike Sego

This post originally appeared on Medium.

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