Everything I needed to know in life, I knew as a newborn…
Katherine turned two months old on Tuesday. I can’t believe she’s two months already. This has truly been the easiest newborn experience that I’ve had. I think this is because contrary to Will’s newbornhood, where I was hit with a shock and awe campaign of Oh-my-God-what-have-I-done-to-my-life bombs, and unlike John’s newbornhood where I had delusions of ways-to-keep-control-of-my-life-despite-presence-of-newborn-because-I’m-a-seasoned-parent-and-know-how-to-control-my-kids hallucinations, with this kid, I have accepted that I have no control over my life. She will sleep when she feels like sleeping. She will eat when she feels like eating. My job is just to roll with it. And so I have done.
In doing so, I’ve realized that contrary to what I’ve always thought, I love newborns. They get a bad rap sometimes because people think they’re supposed to maintain the same standard of living that they did pre-newborn and so they get all down on newborns for acting like newborns. But when you think about it, newborns are pretty sweet. And they really have a much better handle on life than 90% of seasoned adults. Here are just just a few things that are awesome about newborns:
#1. They focus on the essentials.
Newborns are simple creatures. They enjoy eating, sleeping, cuddling, and defecating, and the more I think about it, the more I realize that those four things are what life is all about. We’ve managed to over-complicate life with things like cable television, math, and the IRS, but really all we need is to eat, sleep, shit, and love. Newborns have realized this and I admire that about them.
#2. They get plenty of rest and if you play your cards right, you can too.
You know everyone automatically associates newborns with sleep deprivation, but the fact is, that these guys sleep all the time. In actual fact, a newborn sleeps 15-16 hours a day. The problem is that they tend to do it in chunks of only two hours. That being said, a newborn can be an awesome nap companion once you accept that your sleep is pretty much going to be little slumber segments and that that’s okay. You also should accept that you’ll sleep a lot better if your baby is plastered right next to you. Once I accepted these two realities, I found that I can spend the better part of any day asleep with my little nap buddy. And the cool thing is, if your napper wakes up, all you have to do is put your boob in her mouth (if you are the baby’s mother. Fathers and non-lactating women should not attempt this trick) and within 15 sucks, she’ll be out like a light again. You don’t even have to fully awaken. Breast milk is like baby Valium. So newborns are awesome little sleepers and if you can find a way to sleep when they sleep (I suggest putting your other kids in daycare for a few hours), you’ll be an awesome sleeper too.
#3. Newborns have great taste in television.
When your newborn grows into an older baby, he/she will start to develop really annoying opinions about television programming. Kids suck at finding good TV shows. Once your kid gets some age on him, he will find the most gruesome television shows in existence like Chuggington and The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot about That, and you will be forced to either A) not use your television or B) use it to watch his inane programming. Before long, you will lie awake at night wondering why they couldn’t at least draw Dora so that her clothes matched. You will have nightmares about Yo Gabba Gabba that will make you wonder if you accidentally took a hit of shrooms before you went to bed. You will watch episodes of Max and Ruby that will have you running to your cookbooks looking for recipes for cooking rabbit. Newborns, however, don’t care what you watch. Dr Phil? Bring him on. Spend an entire day watching HGTV? Hell yes! This is a great thing about newborns. They let you watch whatever you want.
#4. Newborns are very forgiving.
My sons are relentless when it comes to their expectations for me. I’m supposed to simultaneously pour cups of milk while launching Netflix, playing cars, refereeing physical altercations, and cleaning up John’s latest mess. My newborn, however, has no expectations. All she asks is that I change her diaper and keep milk available. I can make a mistake in front of her and she still thinks I’m totally awesome because I have an endless supply of milk. If I, say, forget her favorite blanket, she doesn’t care. If I accidentally hit the remote control causing a brief interruption in our television programming, she is really not bothered. If I have her wear a green shirt, she never melts down and cries because she wanted to wear the blue one. If I sit with her and do nothing but stare in her face, smile, and make cooing noises, she’s perfectly content to indulge me. Compared to everyone else in my life, my newborns have NO STANDARDS. No newborn has standards. Even the colicky kind that cry a lot have no standards. They’ll cry no matter how perfect or imperfect you are. Living with a newborn is to be free of anything greater than the very basic expectations. Your newborn will not give you any feedback on your performance, good or bad. At no other time in your child’s life will you be able to get away with the slackness that a newborn allows you to get away with. I am slack, hence, I love newborns.
#5. Newborns are oblivious.
This is probably my favorite thing about newborns. They have no idea that they are connected to their bodies. Therefore, this means that you can spill an entire bag of popcorn on a newborn and she will not even acknowledge it. (Ask me how I know.) You can drop a toaster strudel icing down onto a newborn’s foot and she doesn’t bat an eyelash (again, ask me how I know.) The only time a newborn connects him/herself with things happening on his/her body is when said action hurts, like when they get shots. And even then their total lack of awareness serves as a shield for this trauma. They will be smiling in your face while you feel like a traitor for what’s getting ready to happen. Then, the shot goes into their leg, they register that something has happened. Then they register that it hurts. Then they cry. Then they stop and it’s all over. This is such a great way to live life. There’s no fear and no regret. And there’s certainly no sweating the small stuff. Humanity can learn a lot from newborns, I tell you. They’re always in the moment, they don’t have baggage, and they aren’t overly anxious. These little people have it together, I’m telling you.
#6. Newborns are great communicators.
I know you may be asking, how can people who cannot talk be great communicators? Well, I’ll tell you. As much as it pains me to say it, I’m starting to realize that words complicate communication rather than clarify it. We’ve done this crazy thing in language where we’ve given it subtext, connotation, irony, etc. so that there is so much being said that runs underneath the literal meaning communicated with our words. Because of this, you can have a conversation with another adult and have at best only a vague idea of what they actually think about you. And the more passive-aggressive your adult conversation mate, the more difficult communicating is. With a newborn, you know exactly where you stand. A newborn doesn’t stomp around the house ignoring you when she’s upset. A newborn who is in distress would NEVER look you straight in the eye and say she is “fine” when you ask what’s wrong. No, if a newborn is experiencing displeasure, she will cry. Granted, you don’t always know WHY the newborn is unhappy, but that’s not really the point. In actual fact, do we always need a reason to be unhappy? Sometimes you just want to cry, so you put on maudlin songs like “All By Myself” and cry. Sometimes newborns need the same thing. The important thing here is that you never have to look at a newborn and wonder if he/she is being straight with you. I don’t look at my baby smiling and think, is she REALLY happy or is she deep down thinking about how terrible my hair looks? Does she really want to coo at me? Or is she still pissed about that time that I didn’t immediately feed her because I spent ten minutes trying to find the People magazine that I bought so that I could read while I nursed? Newborns have no subtext in their communication, and sometimes I think that’s better.
So those are just a few things that I really like about newborns. Had I not relaxed and stopped trying to find methods to make my life what it was before she came, I never would have recognized these things. Life is good around here. And that’s the latest these days.
Coming soon: I’m getting my tubes tied April 25th, so be on the lookout for some angst-ridden hypochondriac post about how I’m reasonably sure that I’ll die in surgery. Then, after that, be on the lookout for a post about my experience with the surgery itself so you can know what to expect should you decide to spay yourself someday.
Finally, to close, I’ll post some pictures of the baby:
I love playing dress up with this baby. And I love how she has aunts who buy her stuff from Janie and Jack.
In her raggedy third-hand car seat.
Oh and these guys are still hanging around too.
That’s all folks!
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