To say that the initial weeks with your first baby are a little bit of a shock to your existence is like saying that having your leg amputated might create a little bit of a limp. There's just no way to completely prepare for having a newborn in the house, no matter how organized you have the changing station or how much you used to babysit. And since attempting to read anything longer than one page causes immediate narcolepsy in a new mom (or in some cases, this mom), I thought I'd briefly cover a few newborn topics that Ali might need to address in the next month or two, but aren't always covered very honestly in those "how to care for your newborn" books.
Sleeping, or more specifically, not sleeping. Sorry to tell you this, but your baby will not sleep. There might be a night here or there that she manages to sleep for more than three hours at a time, but this will not last. She will fake you out in the beginning by sleeping for hours and hours, only waking up to eat and crap, and just when you're telling strangers that you have a miracle baby that is sleeping through the night before her belly button fell off, she'll discover that she can be awake. Really, really AWAKE. For hours at a time, in the middle of the night. After a couple months, you'll have something resembling a "bedtime routine," which probably means that by the time the kid is fed, bathed, fed again, diapered again, and finally ready for bed, it's 11:00. At this point, you'll wonder how in the hell you'll ever manage to have this kid in bed by 9:00, or even 8:00 so that you can have a fragment of your old life back. Eventually this happens, but for now you have a newborn. That doesn't sleep. And if anyone is dumb enough to say "How is she sleeping?" as a joke, you have permission to not laugh and instead say "You are an unfunny dumb shit and if I wasn't so tired right now I'd probably kick your ass."
Why is my baby in puberty? Around three weeks of age, your baby will wake up looking like a giant zit. Her once-perfect skin will be covered with an even smattering of baby zits and you will have to resist the temptation to pop and pick at them. Of course, there is no known cause of baby zits and if you ask an "expert," they will probably blame the zits on hormones. Because after all, everything that is unexplained and sucky is categorized as hormonal. Woman goes psycho at the gas station and tries to strangle the asshole at the pump next to her with the hose? She was just hormonal. Lady cries because she feels taken for granted and her day is going down the shit hole? She doesn't need a hug and a "thank you" because she's obviously just being hormonal. Anyway, the best way to treat baby acne is to just ignore the zits and occasionally wash the kid's face.
I've seen fewer flakes at a poetry reading. Around one month of age, your baby's hair will probably start to fall out. In addition to being partially bald, she will most likely develop the most disgusting case of dandruff, aka "cradle cap," that you have ever seen. The books will tell you that it is "mild flaking," which I guess is accurate, if mild flaking is defined as a thick, yellowish, scaly, scabby, falling-off-in-chunks, oily residue. Cradle cap (which, shockingly enough, is probably caused by a shift in hormones) can sometimes be treated by massaging a small amount of almond or olive oil into the baby's scalp and then washing it out. Unfortunately, in order to get all of the oil out you need to shampoo the baby's hair about 27 times, which ends up pulling even more hair out, and then the baby gets cold, so then you end up with an even balder baby that is now crying inconsolably. And most likely, within half-an-hour, the cradle cap will return.
I used to have a beer bong, but now I have baby equipment. Put a bouncy seat in the bathroom for when you take that every-third-day shower, since this is one age when your kid can see you naked without hearing her say "What's wrong with your belly, mommy?" Keep a swing near an exterior door, because it's a great place to put the kid when you want to sneak outside on a beautiful day, do a shot of tequila and pretend like you're on vacation in Mexico. Those Boppy pillows are really useful for nursing, propping up the baby in front of "Sesame Street," and also come in handy as a headrest when you're laying on the floor doing crunches in an attempt to get your abs back. Front carriers are great to have when you bring your baby to parties, and don't worry if a little bit of your cocktail dribbles out of your mouth onto the baby's head. After all, the kid is probably hot in that thing and the cold beverage probably feels good. And who knows, massaging a little bit of booze into the kid's scalp might be good for the cradle cap.
Does she need a snowsuit in June? Here is where you have to use common sense and not listen to nosey strangers. Is it kind of coolish outside? Then put some socks on the baby and a blanket over the car seat. Is it 80 degrees and humid? Then the baby probably doesn't need a hat, sweater, blanket, socks and an extra blanket just in case. And this summer, when some pain in the ass know-it-all says "Goodness gracious, you should really have a hat on that little baby!" you can tell them to shut it.
My baby is crying! Yes, babies cry. A lot. Some more than others, but all of them cry at some point, and the crying may or may not be for the following reasons: tired, not tired, over-tired, hungry, too full, gassy, constipated, constipated and gassy, overstimulated, hot, cold, just right but felt a draft, too bright, kind of dark, too noisy, needs white noise, wants to be held, wants to sit in the swing, wants to lay on the floor, doesn't like the barking dog, doesn't want to be held by the woman that smells like Ben Gay, is being poked by a tag on her outfit, doesn't like that you ate onions before nursing, wants motion in the form of being held while you walk 35 miles in your pajamas. And sometimes, they'll cry because they can.
Who fed my baby cottage cheese? If, after two months of nursing, you're suddenly tempted to rip off your nipples because they itch uncontrollably and you notice that your baby doesn't seem to enjoy eating, chances are that both of you have thrush. Thrush is a yeast infection of your baby's mouth and your nipples. It's really super fun and is often something you don't hear about until you are suffering from it. If you look in your baby's mouth and see white chunks on the insides of her cheeks and on her tongue and if, when you scrape the white chunks away you see a red, raw patch that may or may not bleed, that is thrush. It's completely treatable with antibiotics, but if you don't treat yourself, too, you'll end up passing it back and forth, and back, and forth, and back, and forth. Like I said, really super fun. So, when you get the prescription for the little person, grab an Rx for Diflucan, too. And then when you're waiting for the pharmacy to fill the prescriptions, use that extra time to drive across the parking lot to the liquor store.
It's really hard to believe that a bald seven pound baby that cries, doesn't sleep, is covered in zits and has a yeast infection in her mouth can be so easy to love. Maybe that's why they get the hiccoughs, because honestly there is nothing cuter than a baby with the hiccoughs, especially when that baby isn't mine.