Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Initially titled 'Things they don't tell you about newborns', but on reflection it is entirely possible people did tell me and I didn't listen, or skipped that antenatal class because I was sick and they made you do relaxation exercises bah pshaw. So maybe.)

1. That your newborn might not want to sleep in its adorable little cradle or its cosy little Moses basket. It might not care about the mobile hung lovingly over its bed, or the hand-crocheted blanket from its grandmother's best friend, or any of it. They are primitive little clusters of instinct and need and as far as our species' evolution is concerned, if you're not physically in contact with them at all times they'll be eaten by sabre-toothed cats.

2. That what they consider comfortable and pleasant is not what you would consider comfortable and pleasant, because they've spent most of their existence up to this point in a very different kind of environment. Lying down flat on cool white sheets in a spacious cot? Bad. Swaddled like they're in a straightjacket, and lying in your arms with their face snuggled into your armpit so you're terrified they can't breathe? Much better. Peace and quiet? Bad. Being bounced around endlessly while someone sings Bon Jovi songs to you out of key? Great. Apparently.

3. That your answer to "What quantity of vomit is it acceptable to have on one's clothes before changing?" might no longer be "Zero."

4. That if the baby is not sleeping in bed with you, you will still wake sometimes convinced that it is or was or should have been, and will imagine you see its outline in the sheets and panic that you've smothered it. I would say this was just me, but apparently it is not just me - this is A Thing. Which will hopefully pass.

5. That your brain will torture you with fear about terrible things happening to the baby.

6. That when the evening hits, they might fuss and sob and scream for several hours, inconsolably, and nobody knows why. It's wind! It's overstimulation! It's the frustrations of adapting to a totally new kind of existence! Whatever it is, they will seem to be in pain and you won't be able to fix it and they will cry and cry and it is awful. Apparently this passes, too.

7. That they like loud white noise. They do not care about delicate soothing nature sounds, but the sound of a vacuum cleaner really loud is soothing.

8. That the best thing to do with the baby manuals is to find out which one you basically agree with anyway, buy that, and then refer to it occasionally to reassure yourself that you're probably not screwing up the baby for life.

9. That they bond with you by staring at you. They're like a gurgling adorable version of Kaa from The Jungle Book.

10. That for all it's worthwhile knowing you might not feel any rush of love for them as soon as they're born - it is common, it is normal, it is a totally reasonable response to the exhausting often-awfulness of pregnancy and birth - it is also worth knowing that you might love them, instantly and immensely, and not stop.



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