Monday, 31 December 2012
What I learned this year about... babies.
- However they come out, be it through the trapdoor or the sunroof, it's gonna hurt.
- The first four weeks are pretty much awful. Nothing can really prepare you for the exhaustion. Whole days and weeks blur by in hallucinatory four hour cycles of waking, feeding, winding, changing, dozing, waking, feeding... Lots of people gloss over this fact. I would like to thank the handful of people who were brutally honest about this. And everyone else... I reckon you just blocked it all out, like any other trauma - so I forgive ya!
- Whatever joyful moments you can seize upon in these first four weeks - grab them and don't let go. It might be a shower, an uninterrupted meal, someone taking the bean for a walk so you can sleep... Enjoy each and every such moment!
- Babies grow fast. Take lots of photos. The speed at which they change is miraculous. Expect to be mildly broken-hearted when they grow out of the newborn clothes.
- At about five to six weeks they start smiling and interacting. They begin to grin and coo and sing to themselves. They develop a visible personality. At this point, magically, all the sleeplessness and hormones and pain (not to mention nine months of pregnancy) suddenly becomes worthwhile. You realise that by sheer good fortune you have created something truly amazing - a whole new person.
- Babies take centre-stage. You are no longer the star in your own life.
- Swaddling is your friend. Ditto the angry hiss of static or any other white noise, especially if you have a colicky or overtired screamy baby. I recommend Baby Bliss by Dr Harvey Karp (aka The Happiest Baby on the Block) for tips and tricks. It saved my last remaining marbles.
- People love babies. It is amazing the happiness a baby brings, not just to family and friends but to complete strangers (in supermarkets and cafes to name just two examples). And when a baby bestows a smile on someone - it can make their day.
- Most of all I have learned that your own baby really is different. No matter how unmaternal you feel before your baby arrives (e.g. backing away in terror when a friend / colleague holds out a dribbling, shrieking, writhing newborn) somehow after those first few weeks have passed in a blur you will wake up one day, look at your gummy, grinning new arrival and realise that your life has changed forever - and that's okay.