I THOUGHT I HAD BABIES all figured out. I am the eldest of five brothers and sisters. I took care of my 3 siblings when I was a young kid. My parents would go out, and I’d be in charge of the babies. I changed their diapers, held them, burped them, and all the great stuff you need to do in order to take care of a newborn. I knew what to do. I knew how to handle it. So, when my wife and I were finally blessed with our first child, I thought that I understood the rules. I thought I did. Little did I know, babies aren’t a simple task, by any stretch of the imagination. Having a baby changed my perspective on having kids completely. Here’s a list of what I never understood about having kids.
24 HOURS A DAY
WHEN I USE TO TAKE CARE of my brothers and sisters, it was for a few hours at a time. I didn’t have to care for them at their worst. I just did my time, and when I was done, I didn’t need to worry about them. What I never realized is that when it’s your own, you have them 24 hours a day. Every. Single. Day! Every. Waking. Hour.
I KNOW THAT’S KIND OF ignorant to say. I mean, how could you not realize? I just never really thought about it, before. I honestly thought that the few hours I spent baby sitting was enough to prepare me for the monumental task of parent hood. Suffice it say, it took me by surprise, and spun my world, and what I thought I knew, into a tail spin.
THEY NEED YOU
SERIOUSLY, the amount of attention that a child requires is an act of sheer will and endurance. Once again, I thought taking care of my siblings equaled an understanding of how much they need. I never, ever, thought that a child needed so much care. I knew they needed to be taken care of. Of course! But I never really understood it, you know? What it means to have to be there for them, and how it would affect my every day life.
MY DAUGHTER COULDN’T EAT, hold herself up, or survive without me or my wife to looking after her. Everything, from simple feedings, to changing diapers, needed our constant supervision. Those first few months were hard. It made us realize how little we actually knew.
WHEN I FIRST HEARD ABOUT the Baby Shower, and how guests bring you huge rolls of diapers, I didn’t understand the concept. I mean, don’t babies only use 2 or 3 diapers a day? Come on, they’re tiny! They barely eat, so how much of a mess could they possibly drop into their trousers?
OH BOY. Then I had a kid, and the diapers never stopped. There were moments, and still are, where there’d be a pile of sopping diapers, overflowing from a trash bag. It fills so quickly, and I was not prepared for how much a baby needs to be changed. There were days when the trash would be empty, and by the end of the day we’d have a mound sitting in the corner of the room. And that’s only one day. It’s insane!
AND THAT BRINGS ME TO THE COST of buying diapers and formula for the baby. My wife started working, and wasn’t able to pump or produce milk as often, so we switched our daughter over to formula. Now, while a lot of it was supplemented through the WIC program, we still spend a lot of our own money purchasing formula, diapers, bottles, and wipes.
I DON’T KNOW WHY I THOUGHT, since they were for babies, that all of these would only cost a few bucks. For formula alone, you can easily spend over a $100 easily, and that’s not counting the diapers and wipes, and bottles. Sweet freaking moses I never realized how expensive a baby could be.
HOW LITTLE THEY SLEEP
ANOTHER MISCONCEPTION I had was the amount of time babies spent asleep. I thought that they were easy to put down, and basically slept through the night, and most of the day. Babies are easy! Or, so I thought, once again.
A BABY’S SLEEPING PATTERN is random as all hell, and sometimes they’ll sleep for a few hours to a few moments before waking up and needing you to hold them or cry. My daughter wouldn’t sleep unless she was in my arms. As soon as I put her down, she’d realize she wasn’t in my embrace, and instantly start balling her eyes out. Thus, I’d scoop her up, and there’d be silence.
HOW LITTLE YOU SLEEP
WHICH BRINGS ME TO how much you sleep. When we found out we were having a baby, everyone, especially those I knew with children of their own, told us how we were not going to sleep anymore. I brushed their warnings off as paranoid-parent-talk. I mean, I had 3 younger brothers and sisters. I did the babysitting game. I’d sleep like I always have!
I WAS NOT, in any way shape or form, prepared for how tired I would be. The first night, after my daughter was born, we stayed in the hospital. My wife was in the hospital bed, baby was in a plastic baby bed, and I was on a couch. I hadn’t slept all day because we woke up early for delivery, labor took all day, and we weren’t done and in the room until at least 10pm.
I WAS EXHAUSTED. I just wanted to sleep. So as my wife and newborn daughter slept, I lowered my head to rest. Then my daughter started crying. My wife couldn’t get out of bed because she needed to recuperate after going through over 8 hours of labor, so the task was up to me. Dazed, and on the verge of passing out, I got up, and tried to soothe my daughter. She’d fall asleep, only to wake up no less than an hour later.
THAT FIRST NIGHT WAS TERRIBLE. And that was only the first night. It was only then that I realized that babies don’t wait for you to be rested. They don’t wait till you’re ready to take care of them. Whether you sleep or not, they will need you, and you will have to get up. And you will be tired. All the time.
TAKING A DRIVE
THERE ARE ALSO little things that I never thought would be impacted by having a baby. Small things, like taking a shower, going to the bathroom, or even taking a drive to the store, became an ordeal.
SHOWERS WERE DIFFICULT on days that I was home with the baby and my wife was at work. With no one to watch her, I could shower, but sometimes she’d wake up, need to be changed, or just need to be held. I had to coordinate putting her to sleep then pop into the shower and hope that she didn’t wake up. Or, simply not shower and wait for my wife to get home. The same goes with going to the bathroom. I eventually learned to put her in her car seat, and I’d take her into the bathroom with me. That way, I’d be able to keep an eye on her while I did my business.
AS FOR TRAVELING, getting ready was not as simple as just throwing on some pants and shoes and heading out. We needed to make sure the baby bag was packed, that we had enough milk, and that the pump or formula was in the bag. Oh, and don’t forget a change of clothes for when she pees on herself, and wipes to clean her up. Then we’d have to carry everything out, put the baby in the seat, belt her in, and only then could we go.
WE HAD TO PLAN before we left, anywhere. We couldn’t just get up and go because preparing what we needed to bring took time. And even if we had it all set up, it still took time to put her in her seat and load up the car. Traveling to someplace as simple as the store with a baby is totally different then when we headed out before. As I said, this never crossed my mind.
THOSE FIRST FEW MONTHS, after my daughter was born, were brutal. It was tiring and physically/mentally draining as we tried to learn how to adjust to this new lifestyle. A baby changes everything. Nothing was simple anymore. I never truly understood the meaning of it all until I held my daughter in my hands, and realized that the rest of my life will be devoted to looking after her, and making sure she grows up safely.
TO ANYONE THAT HAS KIDS, I seriously salute you. And to the single parents? Wow, my hats off to you. I mean that. Between me and my wife, and work, and trying to keep our heads above water, on top of taking care of a kid, is difficult. I can’t imagine doing this alone. Single parents are strong individuals that deserve a lot of respect. Parents, in general, deserve a reward, because it’s not an easy task, but it’s so worth it. Feel free to tweet me your thoughts! Cheers!