"Hi, random biker dude. Can you explain how I got pregnant last time I was here?" (Another hint: request verbal explanations only!)
Arriving Home with the Bundle O' Joy:
So you've made it home despite the 15-minute drive taking over three hours for fear of jostling the baby, not to mention several diaper changes en-route.
At this point, you can dismiss the construction crew which helped you wire the infant car seat into place, and then followed you home with blinkers on, marking your route with orange cones, and waving off other cars by using yellow vests, flashlights, and possibly air raid sirens.
Preparing the Nursery:
The nursery should have been carefully prepared, prior to the baby's arrival. The room must be decorated in the mandatory primary color scheme, and the crib is piled high with the dozens of stuffed animals which you've been given since announcing the pregnancy.
What? You didn't re-paint the room three times until settling on a dizzying array of red, yellow and blue? Go back, and do it again. Right now. We'll wait.
(pause for paint fumes to dissipate)
Okay, then. The changing table (note: not a table which changes shape or size, although that would be cool) is padded, has a five-point racing harness for keeping baby in place during any number (87) of daily diaper changes, and a safety rail for parental units to hang onto while they lose their lunch after seeing the contents of the diapers.
The first thing you should do is to toss out all the stuffed animals. Remember the baby is small, and a two-foot-tall teddy looks like a Kodiak bear to the poor kid. Seriously, what are you thinking?
Feeding the Infant:
Feeding the baby presents the new mother with choices: bottle or breast. (Bottle feeding of the parental units is a whole 'nother topic, and is covered in greater detail in my book Now That Baby is Home: Hops, Barley, Grapes, or Corn?)
Breast-feeding is widely considered the best option, and not just by random strangers at the mall. It plays an important role in bonding the mother and child ("Ow, he's biting me! Ow ow ow!"), and also presents the opportunity for creative dressing and/or exhibitionism, for feeding in public. Unless the parental units opt to never leave the house, this topic will eventually come up.
|"We can't leave the house. We have a baby."|
Some of the remarks engendered by public breast-feeding are
- "Oh, look, isn't he, she or it cute?"
- "Ooh, must be dinnertime!"
- "Lady, cover that thing up!"
- "Hahahahahahahahaha ... (inhale) ... hahahahahaha!"
Caring for the Infant
The first six months of a baby's life is an unending cycle of sleep, cry, feed, poop, and sleep again. But never mind your schedule; it's time to take care of the baby, ha ha! And go through an astounding number of diapers, wet-wipes, bottles of Baby Magic, and cleaning rags. During this period, you may think that you previous existence as a bon vivant will never come again.
But cheer up, parental units! There are compensations. For example, during this time, whenever you set the baby down, it tends to remain where you place it.
By now you're wondering why I'm referring to your baby as an "it". Give the author a break! He doesn't know if you have a boy or a girl. Or a two-headed Rigellian slimebeast, for that matter. "It" seemed the safest choice.
But the little darling is starting to notice the world around it. Live in fear! The blissful time when the baby could be left wrapped tightly in a blanket has come to an end. Now you're entering the time of shoes, socks, and wet corduroy.
Transitioning to Toddlers
For the first six months, you looked forward to a time when Baby could walk and talk. For the next 18 years, you'll be wishing he or she would sit down and shut up. Hahahahaha, sucker! The joke's on you. Remember, you wanted this.
Extensive laboratory experiments have proven that toddlers develop the ability to fold space, and can easily reach objects a considerable distance (7.367 meters) in all directions beyond the end of their actual hands. If you haven't "child-proofed" your house, you'd best get to it.*
Toddlers also explore the world by putting everything in their mouths. This would also be a good time to put the cat's litter box in the garage, if you get my drift.
Toddlers possess an uncanny ability to trip over dust, sunbeams, imaginary lines, and the like. They also tend to sit down abruptly, regardless of their previous direction of travel. This, in spite of their tendency to hold onto furniture, pets, TV screens, windows, or parental units at the same time. In fact, our own personal toddlers left smears, hand prints, nose prints, and various bodily substances on surfaces which we discovered as recently as 2010 when the youngest offspring was 15.
Just the same, toddlers get into, behind, inside of, or on top of everything they can reach - and some which you've have sworn under oath in court that they couldn't.
Their propensity for picking up, dropping or throwing items is in direct proportion to the value of said items. Toddlers will throw delicate, ornate glass decorations against the nearest surface, thereby discovering
- the sparkle of light as the objects travel across the room,
- the fascinating sound of glass becoming shards o' death, and
- some surprising things about Mommy's anger.
But never fear - this phase of their lives will also pass, leading directly to puberty and swarms of strangely-dressed young persons keeping altogether too quiet in your darkened basement. But don't worry. That's years away.
At least, you hope so.
Next time: High School, Hormones, and Havoc
* Hint: this is not possible, but knock yourselves out, anyway.