In one of the comments to our initial announcement of Mommy Blog Week, a request was made for pointers on raising a newborn. Since Patrick’s advice could be boiled down to three words, “Don’t do it,” I figured I should probably take on the task. So below, I will pass on the wisdom I have accumulated while rearing a child to the ripe old age of two and a half. (NOTE: Keep in mind, I only have a son, so my advice is gender specific.)
Rule #1: Never turn your back when your son is on the changing table
This rule is as rigid as “don’t talk about Fight Club.” I learned this the hard way while still in the hospital. The ClarkPupp filled his diaper, and because his mother had a c-section I was the only one who got to practice this valuable skill before she was discharged, so I was on duty. The paper towels Mercy provided for clean up were not enough to clean the black sludge, so I turned around–for just a second, mind you–to get a wet cloth. That’s when it happened.
For a creature that was south of seven pounds, you would not have expected his hose to have the power of a fire hydrant, but there was pee several yards past the table. Plus, he managed to hit himself in the face with the spray. So, the job ended up calling for a new outfit and a clean-up.
Don’t make the same mistake. What I eventually learned was that keeping an extra wash cloth nearby to cover while prepping the rest of the diaper change saved a lot of extra work.
2. Accept Help When it is Offered
If you’re anything like me, you want to be very involved in your child’s life…and you have a big ego. You think you can do it all. The ClarkPupp tested that theory for me by having colic for the first six months of his life. As a result, I was sleep deprived for the first six months of his life. Had I not accepted a couple of offers from my mother and mother-in-law to watch him while my wife and I took a nap, we probably both would have stroked out when our son was a three month old.
3. Take Pictures
Lots of them.
4. Breast-feeding versus Bottle-feeding
There is no wrong answer in this debate, but we went with the former for as long as Mrs. Matthews could manage. The accountant in me loved not paying for formula, and there are tons of new-agey reasons bandied about for “nursing” a child. Of course, the biggest benefit might have been the calorie burning.
Mrs. Matthews put on (redacted for sake of marriage) pounds while the ClarkPupp was gestating. Within six months of giving birth, and without doing so much as a single jogging lap around the block, she was ten pounds below her pre-pregnancy weight.
5. The four S’s
Thanks to Dr. Harvey Karp, we knew about Swaddle-Swing-Shush-Suck. Unless you really like a crying infant, I suggest you know them, too.
6. Give yourself a break
When your child screams every hour on the hour for nights upon nights, horrible thoughts are going to creep into your mind. You are going to mentally accuse the child of trying to manipulate you, and are generally going to be incredibly angry at a creature that understands very little. And that’s going to make you feel guilty. Remember that you are not alone, everyone has hit that breaking point. Unless you beat the child, give yourself a break.
7. Enjoy your child
They won’t be small forever.
8. Don’t give your child a douche-baggy name
Name them something like Clark, or if you want to toughen them up by getting them picked on, Patrick.