Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Do's and Do Not Do's of Baby Advice

Along the way toward parenthood and in the early weeks after our son was born, my wife and I were the recipients of boatloads of advice, predictions and observations on parenting. 

With our little guy approaching the 15-week mark, now seems an appropriate time to evaluate some of these kernels of wisdom. 

It's no surprise that some of these predictions have come true, some of the observations have held fast and some of the advice has been invaluable. 

Conversely, it's also no surprise that some of these observations appear to have been given in a form of jest that I was simply incapable of deciphering. Ditto for some predictions, which defy even-a-broken-clock-is-right-twice-a-day type of success and let's just say there was advice given that has me questioning myself and the people I associate with.

So, without further ado, here are some of the hits and misses imparted to us.
Babies often express "having fun" by screaming,
wailing and turning purple. 

What I was told:

"Parenthood is the greatest thing you'll ever do. Every moment is just fun." 

What I learned: 

The former is undoubtedly true. The latter is wrong to a degree I am still coming to grips with. Fun? Yes, every single moment is really just nonstop hoopla and hilarity.  In fact it's even "fun" in that "dear god please give me the strength to get through the next ten minutes" kind of way. 

What I was told:

"A baby fills a place in your heart that you didn't know was empty."

What I learned:

Yep. Too true. But, what this person didn't say, was that this part of your heart is outside your body and you've no control over it. None. You are completely at its mercy. 

What I was told:

Once he's here, you won't remember what life was like without the baby. 

What I learned: 

In retrospect this appears to be one of those vague, nebulous observations that mean absolutely nothing. Kind of like when someone says "It is, what it is." I do remember what life was like before the baby. It was, really, just life without the baby. It was what it was. 

What I was told:

You get used to the crying.

What I learned:

You do build a tolerance but, you never get used to it. You're not supposed to get accustomed to it. Whether the baby is a week or three months old, every single, cell in your body will revolt in an uprising of anxiety and discomfort every time that kid starts wailing.

What I was told:

Diapers are expensive.

What I learned:

Yes! Yes they are. Thinking about what diapers do, what they hold and where they ultimately go, through the lens of how much they cost is enough to make a grown man cry like a baby (with a full, expensive Huggies-brand diaper). I recommend you just forget thinking about it altogether.
Pictured: Huggies with the "wetness indicator."

What I was told:
 
Be sure to give yourself a break.

What I learned: 

This is true for dads but, really aimed more at moms. I happen to be married to a people pleaser of the highest order who never quite feels like she's done enough for the baby. Quietly feeling baby guilt is a specialty of hers so, telling her to get out of the house has become a regular part of our daily routine.


What I was told:

What good moms and dads instinctively feel like doing is usually best for the baby. 

What I learned:

So far, this approach has worked. 

What I was told (by myself):

Don't listen to everybody.

What I learned: 

I completely agree, don't listen to everybody, especially bloggers.

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