‘Beetle’ is nearly two weeks old and still very much in newborn mode. Over the last thirteen days since he was born, it’s incredible to think what I’d forgotten – and had to re-learn – about life with a newborn baby. It doesn’t feel that long ago that L was this age, but scarily this was actually 3.5 years ago.
It’s not that any of this stuff is new. Everything experienced so far with ‘Beetle’ was experienced with L. It’s more because it’s stuff which I’d forgotten about. Whether that’s because the newborn stage is relatively short, whether it’s because I was in a sleep-deprived state or just because I’m getting old, I’ve been surprised at how little I remember about the practicalities of living with newborn babies.
The last week has therefore been a bit weird. Familiar, yet different. A bit like visiting somewhere you used to go on holiday as a kid, watching a film you’ve not seen in 10 years or bumping into an ex-girlfriend at the supermarket. You kind of remember snippets of what it was like, but the passing of time has distorted, confused and altered things.
As the days have passed, I’ve been slowly clocking up a list of things which fall into this forgotten and re-learnt category. So, I wanted to share 10 things I’d forgotten about newborn babies which I’ve now remembered because I live with one again. Granted, that blog post title isn’t the catchiest, but you get the gist!
1) The excessive sleeping: Newborn babies are lazy. Sure, they’ve had a ‘traumatic experience’ by entering the world, but you’d think that they’d want to start exploring rather than staring at the back of their eyelids. I forgot just how much sleep newborns need – 16 hours per day is average according to Google. It’s just a shame that the tiny little blighters save all of their sleep for the day and decide to stay awake at night when you really need your own ZZZZ’s.
2) The diminutive stature: Of course, newborn babies are small – I know that. However, I’d forgotten just how small they actually are. Despite being 7lb 5oz – which is a fair bit bigger than his 5lb 14oz sister – ‘Beetle’ just feels tiny. Being able to lay him across your knee or support him with your forearm seems crazy when you’re used to lugging a 3.5 year old preschooler around. Then you look at the doll-like clothes and are surprised to find that ‘up to 1 month’ tops are way too big and look utterly absurd.
3) The milk shits: I remembered the meconium (the early tar like crap), but then completely forgot about what comes next. I’ve become so used to dealing with ‘normal’ toddler shit that I assumed that newborn turds were just going to be the same. Wrong. Instead, I’ve rediscovered the milk shits that are mustard yellow in colour, happen multiple times per day and have a weirdly sweet smell.
4) The (disgusting) umbilical cord: I assume that I’d put it to the back of my mind because it’s proper vom inducing, but I’d forgotten just how disgusting the umbilical cord is. Like an additional limb, it just hangs there for a week or so until it shrivels up and falls off. It’s just minging – like one big beef jerky-looking scab dipped into gone-off mayonaise. What’s more, you’ve got to actually touch it to ensure that it’s not tucked in the nappy. Why someone would want to hang onto it as a keepsake is baffling.
5) The never-ending dirty clothes: I’m used to washing dirty clothes – we have a preschooler after all. However, I’d forgotten just how much washing a newborn baby creates. At the moment, we’re doing a full load per day, with particularly bad days requiring two. Newborns just ooze fluids from every orifice, which in turn, goes everywhere. We’re talking sneaky wees during nappy changes, explosive poonamis that soak through and milk sick which covers everything. This means multiple outfits per day (for him and us), along with muslins, sheets and covers need washing each day. It’s about time that I invest in Persil shares.
6) The skull gaps: Another thing I’d totally forgotten about were the two gaps that exist in a newborn baby’s skull. These gaps – or fontanelles to give them their proper name – are soft spots that feel like they offer no protection to your baby. I’m sure they are there to allow the brain to grow quickly or to aid with delivery, but it’s weird to think that their brain is basically exposed to the world – it’s asking for trouble. Did God not learn anything from watching Star Wars and seeing various versions of the Death Star destroyed due to a structural weakness?
7) The relentless feeding: If you ask the missus, I’m pretty sure she won’t have forgotten this – for me though, I’d failed to remember how often newborns feed. As the missus exclusively breastfed L and has done so so far with ‘Beetle’, my role is more spectator and cheerleader than participant. Despite this, I’m still very aware of just how frequent and relentless the feeding is – ranging from every hour to every three hours, I’m not sure just how the missus copes. She probably isn’t either!
8) The weird noises: I’ve become so used to the sounds and words of an actual preschooler that the wheezes, grunts and exhalations of a little newborn had been long forgotten. As soon as I heard him though, it all came rushing back. It’s really difficult to explain, but at times he sounds like a dinosaur, other times he’s like a jibba jabba toy and then he also throws in a few sex noises. All very weird and a little uncomforting.
9) The farts, burps and hiccups: Similar to the point above about weird noises, we also have bodily functions. The fact that newborns fart, burp and hiccup is nothing new, but what I’d forgotten was just how often they happen. If our little lad isn’t sleeping, feeding or crying, then he’s farting, burping or hiccuping. It’s great that he’s so easily able to get rid of his wind and not have discomfort, but it means I’ve very conscious of the stench when someone visits.
10) The struggle to put them down: It’s a great feeling to have newborn cuddles and look down fondly upon that little human that you’ve created, but the practicalities of life means that they can’t always be on you. I’d therefore forgotten just how difficult it can be to (successfully) put a baby down in their Moses basket or into the rocker – I say ‘successfully’ because it’s easy to put them down, but near on impossible to get them to stay there without crying!
So those are 10 things I’d forgotten about newborn babies that I now remember ‘thanks’ to ‘Beetle’. Do any of these sound familiar? What would you add to the list? Let me know below!