For most of my life I've made special efforts to avoid babies. When a friend has given birth I would visit and say the right things but politely decline if asked to hold the baby. Or feed the baby. Or change the baby.
Why? Babies never really interested me and I was worried that I would break someone else's baby. I didn't need that pressure in my life.
Now, of course, I'm the father of two tiny babies and I can't continue my baby avoiding ways (though I did avoid changing their diapers for the first week or so of their lives when they were in the NICU. I figured the nurses were far better at it than I. Until one evening I was about to leave and a nurse said, "Would you like to change Declan?" I couldn't very well tell the truth, so I changed his diaper. I've now changed both of them many, many times. I will say that while I avoided changing them I did watch the nurse’s technique to prepare myself for the reality I would soon be facing, so I’m not completely awful).
I share all of this to establish that I didn't know much about babies going into fatherhood. I've now learned a few things that I thought I should share with folks who are also ignorant in the ways of the baby:
- They grunt a lot. I always assumed babies were either crying like crazy or quiet. Nope! They make all sorts of sounds, even while they are sleeping. Which is super restful during the night because you totally don’t think every sound is one of your babies choking on something. Not at all.
- They aren’t glass figurines. Sure, they are tiny and you need to be careful with them but they are pretty sturdy when handled properly. Still, be careful with them!
- Feeding them isn’t too scary (just a little scary). The feeding part isn't bad… The part where they choke from time to time is. It is far worse, however, when they are hooked up to a bunch of monitors when it happens. Then alarms go off, nurses come running, and you feel really bad for nearly killing your child. Not that I speak from personal experience. Just remember you can control the flow of the liquid by positioning the bottle and you should be fine.
- They eat a lot. And they poop a lot. But it is ok if they don’t poop for a day. Don’t worry, they’ll make up for it.
- They are pretty deep sleepers. Movies taught me that one should tip toe around a sleeping baby. Maybe strap some pillows on your feet and take a vow of silence. I don't know if it is because Sammy and Declan spent time in the NICU with lots of other screaming babies, beeping alarms, chatting nurses, and worried parents but they can sleep through a lot. We went for a walk the other day and stopped for some coffee. I waited outside with the baby carriage (and the babies) when a UPS truck pulled up and idled next to us while the deliver guy unloaded packages. Both babies kept on sleeping.
- They really don’t like to have their diapers changed. Though they do enjoy waiting until you've taken away their dirty diaper, put some cream on them, and are about to button up the clean diaper to unload a surprisingly strong, and plentiful, stream of urine thereby requiring yet another new diaper and prolonging the experience for everyone. Silly babies.
- They really don’t like to be in messy diapers. They hate being changed but they hate not being changed more.
- They go from not hungry to “no one has ever fed me in my LIFE!” in about 2 seconds. It is pretty impressive. Luckily, once you start feeding them they settle down (generally).
I’m sure allow of this is old news to people, or stuff that most will find obvious but they were news to me.
This tiny baby business isn’t for the faint of heart (though Marisa and I keep saying, “just having one baby must be so easy!” No offense to you singleton parents out there, but you’ve got it easy).