Nell is six months old. To me this is an amazing milestone. I celebrated by buying unnecessary presents. Which she promptly tried to eat, then got frustrated by and then screamed at. People say that time flies and it has seemed to, but also conversely it seems like ages since the thunderstorm in the summer during which she was born. I have got into a routine of eat, miss sleep, feed, change and repeat. I have also learned lots. I knew barely anything about children before she was born and seemed to at a disadvantage compared to most of my NCT class friends who had read ALL the books. I felt unprepared but was so worried about us getting through the pregnancy safely I thought we’d muddle through the actually having a baby part. And for the most part we have muddled through. Sometimes I feel like the worst parent that has ever lived and am a clueless, sleep deprived mess and other days I think “yep, we’re doing ok”. At the moment this is about a 60/40 split.
Some of the things I’ve learned that wouldn’t be mentioned in any of the many contradictory parenting books available out there are as follows:-
WARNING – There is mention of baby poo (that in itself is a surprise; the amount of conversation you will have about poo).
- You’ve heard of projectile vomit – welcome to the world of projectile poo. The second the nappy is removed the poo literally flies. This was an impressive trick that Nell perfected when she was six weeks old. It cleared at least a foot off the changing table before touchdown on our newish cream carpet. Additionally it was nuclear yellow and stained it.
- My husband has coined the phrase “poonami” to describe Nell’s dirty nappies. Seriously you would not believe that such a small child could contain so much. Sometimes two people are required to mop down all of the surfaces in the vicinity.
- Poo does not stay in the nappies were it is supposed to. Cute outfit? Not for long……
- Another party trick is the vomit in the bra trick. Entertaining, especially in the middle of the night. It’s even more entertaining if you discover that you missed some in the morning. The hubbie has an action shot of the vomit descending. It’s quite impressive, you are amazed by the photographic skill whilst being disgusted at the same time.
- Do you have nice clothes? Not for long. It is obligatory that all shoulders and sometimes backs and necks have a patina of stains from milk dribble.
- Additionally the only, ONLY time to wee is when the nappy has been removed for a change. Nell seems to think it is best to be as stealthy about this as possible so you finish changing her nappy only to realise her clothes are soaked and she’s laying in a puddle of pee. Smiling at you.
- Another weird thing they won’t tell you about is the pressure that your milk can be under if bubs misses a feed. It hurts, you begin to pity cows and once they’ve started feeding it can shoot across the room if they de-latch mid feed.
- The sadness of knocking over expressed milk. It takes a lot of effort to get the smallest amount of milk out. It’s like liquid gold and you will cry if you spill it.
- At some point your child will do something amazing which they will refuse to repeat after you have declared what a genius they are to others. conversely you will complain about something they do (i.e never sleeping) only for them to act like angels (they will sleep through for grandma).
- People will randomly approach you in the street to give you helpful advice. A lady once informed me that the sun was in Nell’s eyes seconds after leaving a shop before I had a chance to put her sun hood down. Another couple gravely informed me that their 9 year old granddaughter was still sucking her fingers after seeing Nell doing it at five months. They asked how I was stopping her from doing it…..
- Another thing I find vaguely awkward is people saying how cute she is. Obviously I think she’s gorgeous but if I agree with everyone is that tantamount to saying ‘why yes she is, have you seen how super hot me and hubs are. She is a concentrated version of our cuteness’. No I don’t think that sounds conceited at all. My standard response is a vague ‘mmmm….well I think so’.
- I find breastfeeding in public embarrassing as well. I know I shouldn’t. People can’t see anything and I have this circus tent like affair to cover me and bubs entirely in swathes of ‘discreetness’. I once held eye contact with an angry older lady who was unimpressed with my blatant leaving of the house with a breastfed baby throughout a 10 minute feed in Costa Coffee. I felt anxious and annoyed at myself for feeling that way but I now tell myself it’s their problem. They don’t have to look and they probably would prefer a happy fed baby to a screaming one.
- Cool new toys….not so much. You will find yourself spending ridiculous sums of money on toys that you are convinced bubs will love, especially if they vaguely looked at and/or reached for it in the shop. Once purchased however they will probably promptly hit themselves round the head with it, start crying and resume playing with a random household item e.g. a whisk. The same applies to stuff they have played with and loved at friend’s houses, hence the largely unused swing, jumperoo and walker in our tiny house.
- Always check the nappy bag for a change of clothes (refer to the above point about “leakages”). This was one of my first failures as a newbie mum. We went to a gallery. I was exhausted. Nell started screaming inconsolably. I went to change her only to discover her clothes were destroyed. The lack of spares meant I ended up walking through a hushed and echo-ey gallery with a naked, screaming baby. There was a lot of judgement going on from the other patrons. I almost joined Nell. In the screaming that is, not the being naked part. That would have really upset everyone!
Just remember you are doing great and if you are worried about being a good parent you probably already are.