I met a friend along with her 6 week old son today. After about 10 minutes a cold realisation began to dawn on me. As time has gone on, I thought I was growing into my new role as a mother- relaxing and maturing, taking things more in my stride and becoming increasingly confident with Pickle and her little nuances. But as I watched my friend hold, feed and cuddle this tiny little person with precision and skill, and heard her stories from the last month and a half, I realised/remembered one simple thing; Newborns are SERIOUSLY high maintenance. Like, CRAZY high maintenance; time devouring, absorbing little black holes of energy, sleep, sanity and anxiety. As I reflected, I realised that I haven’t gotten ANY better at this parenting lark- I think Pickle has just got better at the ‘being a baby’ lark.
So, without further ado, and as ‘Top 10s’ seem to be all the rage again these days, here is my Top 10 Things I Had Forgotten About Newborns.
- Their inability to support ANY PART of their own body. At All. Then, when you think they can hold their head slightly independently, or remain sightly more upright than face flat, they suddenly lurch in the polar opposite direction with sickening speed, whilst you grapple to catch them like a slippery Cod. You then spend the next hour worrying that they’ve broken or damaged something fairly major as a result, consulting Dr Google repeatedly.
- The constant, unstoppable turds. Turds that wipe out entire outfits, and in my friend’s case, bouncer chairs. And the incessant weeing. It’s a relentless, thankless battlefield of bodily fluids of varying consistencies. The encore performances mid-change at 3am, or in the loo of the café which soak everything they are wearing is enough to make you weep. An outfit change takes 20 minutes in the beginning given that it’s like trying to get 8lb of cooked spaghetti into a baby grow, so once you’re done, they’ve usually already obliged you with another nappy offering. 12 nappy changes a day, every day, easily. It. Just. Never. Ends.
- Their eyes can move entirely independently of one another, like a chameleon. This scared the life out of me the first time Pickle opened her eyes and managed to look at both myself and husband at the same time whilst on opposite sides of the room.
- The random shudders, shakes and jerks that had me on Google every 5 seconds in utter blind panic.
- The inability to leave them AT ALL, (does this improve with subsequent children? Answers on a postcard…) without torturing yourself that something horrendous will happen to them in 11.5 seconds it takes for you to have a wee and run back into the nursery, where they usually greet you with yet another turd.
- The hours and HOURS they take to feed. By the time they’re done, burped and the inevitable turd has been expelled, it’s time to do it all again.
- They claw at their own eyeballs roughly every 16 minutes. They can remove scratch mitts in a nanosecond. The battle is already won.
- The constant obsessing over whether they’re too hot or too cold. “Should I add a vest? Do they need a hat?! Which Tog sleeping bag is appropriate tonight?!?! What IS a ‘Tog’?!?! What’s the temperature on the room thermometer?!?!?!?! 22 degrees?! It CAN’T be 22 degrees, she’ll literally roast! Strip her off, strip her off!”etc, etc. This dominated my every waking moment until Summer passed (well, August arrived). Now, I just worry she’s too cold…
- They devour your evenings with cluster feeding and anti social behaviour such as refusing to sleep. You completely forget how to spend time with your other half without whispering, or crawling around on the floor below moses basket height like a crap ninja.
- Despite being gorgeous, they give NO assurance that you are doing ANYTHING particularly well. They seem to hold that first smile back until the absolute last second before your mental breakdown, and then think “Oh, go on then. I’ll let you know you’re doing OK.” And when they do, your heart feels like it’s going to burst, and it’s like points 1-9 never even happened.
At the time, all of this was completely normal carry on, and I don’t remember thinking it was unmanageable. I suppose nature is pretty crafty when it comes to survival techniques- it floods you with hazy, lovely hormones, which help take the edge off for the first few weeks. It definitely didn’t feel quite as bad as it sounds when I read it back!
So, 8 months on, I am now completely confident that I have gotten no better at this parenting thing whatsoever- Pickle has just gotten better at withstanding my inevitable shortcomings. She helps me out massively on a daily basis; she’ll sit in a high chair quite happily. She will entertain herself for a few minutes in the jumperoo. She breathes consistently without massive pauses, or weird noises that scare me so much I want to puke (one of her more sinister newborn tricks). She requires nappy changes at a far more respectable rate, shows me I’m on the right track with her constant giggles, and is sturdy enough to weather my almost non existent ability to dress her, without sustaining physical injury.
All you newbie parents out there- you’re doing grand. Your babies will learn to help you out. Newborns are just a pretty tough crowd…