The Great Baboo is eight weeks old today, and for the entirety of that eight weeks, I’ve been meaning to write a few words about how stupid I was about babies before I had one.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m still stupid. Stupider, in fact, by virtue of not having slept for more than a few hours at a stretch since April. But now I’m also too tired to worry about my own stupidity, so I’m counting that as progress.
I will say that I had set the bar low for myself. I bought a bunch of baby books, but they weren’t about *my* baby, so they were pretty boring. I knew I couldn’t struggle through them all, so I just concentrated on the parts having to do with survival — ours and the baby’s.
In this regard, Adam’s dad-books were better than my mom-books: the baby care industrial complex doesn’t expect men to obsess over developmental stages or childrearing philosophies, so they keep it light: lots of pictures and practical advice, next to no guilt or complicated theory. Adam’s books told me how to pack a diaper bag and soothe a crying baby, and they never once told me that I was a shiftless whore for wanting to feed my baby formula or take some time to myself to read a book now and then.
Anyway. I’ve learned a lot since those pre-baby days. I almost always remember to put new diapers in the diaper bag and both Baboo and I have managed to escape these early months with only minor injuries. (My nipples look like they’ve been pulled through a keyhole; Baboo has a cut on her thumb from overzealous nail-clipping. I’ve nearly recovered from both.)
Here are a few things about babies (or the process of having a baby) that I didn’t know a few months ago:
- Babies’ heads are weirdly shaped. Before I had a kid, I thought Edward Gorey was just having a little fun when he drew infants with squashy, oblong heads. But no: they’re really shaped like that. My first thought when I saw my baby was, “Where’s the top of her head?” I fully expected the doctors to tell me that she was missing something crucially important in the cranium area.
- Sleep deprivation makes you forget things. Here’s how I now describe movies I’ve seen: “It was a superhero dealie — you know, not with Batman, the other one — and that guy is in it, the one who looks hotter with a beard.” (BTW, this might mean that I’m describing either a Superman movie — not Batman, but Superman — or an Avengers movie — not DC, but Marvel. IMHO, both the new Superman and Captain America look better with beards.)
- Dilaudid is amazing. They gave me some in a pump after my C-section, and I spent a blissful 24 hours pushing the button every eight minutes or so. I also remembered every dream I ever had, and had a lovely conversation with my grandparents, who are deceased. When the hospital staff came to take the pump away, I made what I thought was a compelling argument for keeping it. It was: “Noooo. Dooon’t. Just dooon’t.” It didn’t work.
- Nothing else is really important when you have a kid, except for things that affect that kid. I was sort of afraid that might be the case, but what I didn’t understand was that this means many things are crucially important, because your child lives in the world. You still care about your job and your community and your health, because your baby needs you to make money and be a whole person and maintain a support network and not keel over in the supermarket while buying diapers.
- Wisdom is really exhaustion. Who gives a shit about people being wrong on the internet when you’ve only had an hour and 45 minutes of sleep?
- I have opinions about child rearing. Before I had Baboo, I was aware that there were many schools of thought about how to raise a kid, but other than thinking it was silly to create more isms, I didn’t have much of an opinion about them. Or so I thought. Now I realize that I have a lot of deeply held beliefs about baby feeding and baby sleeping, etc. (I still don’t care what anyone else does, as long as they don’t abuse or neglect their kids.)
- Things can go south in a hurry when it comes to pregnancy and childbirth. After an uneventful pregnancy, I developed gestational hypertension and needed a C-section. Afterward, my incision opened up and I broke out in hives all over my body, probably in reaction to breastfeeding, which I initially swore I wouldn’t do, but wound up doing anyway. (More on that in a future post.) Basically, everything went from awesome to unbelievably shitty in the space of a few weeks.
- Babies grow *fast*. Three days ago, our baby had two modes when awake: crying and blinking. Now she peeps and coos and smiles and laughs. Adam said, “It’s like she went to sleep one night and woke up with the ability to communicate.” It’s hard to take our eyes off her. Also, we don’t want to.