First Month Observations of a New Parent

Last night, Sabrina and I were asked by a student we used to coach to sit on a panel for her college seminar about midwifery and homebirth. It was an interesting experience, and I wish we’d seen something like it when we first got ‘in the family way’! It was actually attended by a number of expecting parents, which we hadn’t expected, and their questions were similar to ones we’d gone to great lengths to find answers to!

20140320_017Afterwards, we both agreed that we wished that more of the “right” questions for those expecting parents had been asked, because there was a lot of stuff we wish we’d known beforehand that no one ever tells you about!

So now that we’re “experts”, with a whole month of parenting under our belts, we’ve assembled some thoughts on info a new parent really needs:

  1. Review every detail of your birth plan repeatedly with your doctor/midwife – We walked into the birthing center expecting to have a water-birth. The first question from the staff was, “Did you bring your hose?” Our response (not counting my wise-ass remarks about ‘what the kids are calling it these days’) was “What hose?” It turns out that our midwife was supposed to tell us to buy a special hose for filling/draining the birth-pool, but since it was only brought up once, it must have slipped her mind. No water-birth for us!
  2. Ask the stupid question – The midwives/doctors/lactation consultants/nurses/etc. may treat you like a dummy for asking if this or that is a problem when it isn’t, but for all their attitude, they miss things. The “hysterical parents” of our child have already caught and corrected two fairly serious problems that all the “professionals” missed!
  3. Forget about what to expect – There is a big stack of estimates about what your child will do or want a time x in his/her development. They are all wrong. More accurately, they are all educated guesses and averages. Each one is perhaps correct for 25% of all babies, and there are dozens of them, so there will be dozens that are completely wrong for your child!
  4. Breastfeeding makes it so much better – Aside from the convenience and savings of having your own baby-food supplier literally in-house (and believe me, that formula ain’t cheap!), if your baby is consuming only breastmilk, the materials you find filling his/her diaper barely smell, and are no more offensive than creamed peas. Let your baby have formula, and you’ve got a creature that should be banned by the Geneva convention on your hands. If you could find a way to weaponize formula-fed babies, you could rule the world!
  5. Growth spurts don’t just happen when you’re 14 – To our surprise, it’s possible for your baby to have as many as two growth spurts a month. When this happens, baby will be crankier than usual for NO DAMNED REASON, and demand feeding as often as every 45 minutes, when awake. It’s also likely that Mommy’s milk production won’t be able to keep up, and you’ll need to supplement with formula. DO pump whenever you can if you aren’t currently at max production, because per the previous observation, you really don’t want to have to supplement with formula!
  6. Disposable diaper brand does matter – For the love of all that’s sanitary, do not, and I mean DO NOT, save the five cents per diaper by buying the Walmart store brand! The increased blow-out rate will cost you three times that savings in laundry, cleaning supplies, and sanity! See the previous two points for why this might be…