As many of you know, my wife and I had twin girls near the end of November, and after a few weeks in the hospital because they were born premature, they’ve been home with us since the middle of December.
Leading up to the birth, many people were giving us advice, or warning us about the sleepless nights. One good friend, Amanda, told me that the best advice one could give is to not listen to any advice, since every baby and every experience is different.
But there are some things I have learned that I wished people had told me about in advance. And, willing to pass on that info, I now present to you the top five things I’ve learned about babies that people don’t tell you, but you wish they had.
1) Zippers are the way to go.
Not wanting to upset their stomachs by moving them around too much on a full stomach, we change our babies’ diapers before every feeding. This usually means the twins are bawling pretty loudly. To be fair, one of us is changing the diaper while the other is getting the milk ready, to decrease the amount of time the kids are crying.
So we’re usually in a bit of rush to change the diaper so we can pick them up to comfort them until the milk is finished warming up (we warm it up in a bowl of hot water, and not in the microwave, so it takes a bit longer).
So the kids are screaming for food, they’re kicking around, and after I put on a fresh diaper, I come to the realization that I need to do up their outfits. If it’s zippers, there no problem, and two seconds later, I’m done.
But if there are buttons, then it’s another story. One of the outfits has buttons around each leg as well, so in total, there’s about 15 buttons, which is a lot to do up when the girls are screaming and kicking.
You can tell who your friends are if they buy your newborns clothing and it has nothing but buttons. The closer the friends, the more likely there are zippers on the outfits. Those without children are immune from this, of course, as they don’t know any different as they haven’t gone through the experience.
2) Euro style tubs suck
My wife had seen this on one of those daytime shows, and wanted one. I thought it looked stupid, but we put it on the registry to make the missus happy. And she was very excited when someone bought us one.
The way it works, instead of having the baby lay flat, they sit up in a tub.
Apparently, it’s supposed to make it easier to bathe a baby. But it wasn’t. In fact, it just made it brutally difficult.
Before I go any further, look at the photo to the right. Try to think of what it would be like to bathe a baby there. There were numerous problems.
First, since a baby is sitting in water, instead of laying on a screen mesh-type thing in a tub, you always have to be holding them. You can’t just let them lay there for a second while you put soap on a cloth. If you do, they drop right into the tub.
Second, bathing becomes a two-person job. Since you need to keep at least one hand on the baby, it’s difficult to do anything else. With newborns, we found we needed to keep two hands on the baby, one under the arm to keep them from falling in completely, and one under the chin to give the head support needed for a newborn.
Third, because I’m holding the baby to keep her from drowning, it doesn’t leave a lot of space for my wife to maneuver around to wash the baby.
Fourth, it’s hard to lift the baby out of the Euro Style tub.
In essence, it’s not practical or a good tub.
3) Kids grunt when they sleep.
In case you haven’t had your first child yet, be prepared for a sleepless first night. Even if the baby is sleeping like, well, a baby, you’ll be up all night.
This is because a baby makes so much noise when they sleep. It sounds like they need to clear their throat all the time. There’s grunting, and gurgling and breathing noises. They breathe heavy. They grunt when the poo, pee or pass gas.
We honestly thought something was wrong with our babies the first night. It wasn’t until we did some research did we find out this was normal.
4) Say good-bye to your hands.
Our twins came home right at the start of flu season, and as mentioned, were premature. Even after three weeks in the hospital, it was still another three weeks until their due date. Plus, my parents, who were staying with us to help us out, ended up getting the flu.
So I washed many hands. Before feedings, before picking them up, before changing diapers, after changing diapers, etc. You know what happens when you wash your hands that much? They dry out, and they dry out bad. They get itchy. They get cuts on them that start to hurt.
And they don’t really get better, because you’re always washing your hands. If I had known in advance, I would have bought gloves.
5) Keep your laptop handy.
The best thing about a laptop is the fact you can bring it anywhere. And it’s taken away a lot of worries, as we keep it by the bed.
Anything that comes up, we research on the Internet, and it really takes away a lot of our fears. For example, a week after coming home, Samantha was eating like crazy. At the time, she was taking about 70 mL of milk every three hours. But at this stage, she was eating every hour.
We were worried something was wrong, that her body wanted more food because it was fighting off an illness or something. So I surfed the World Wide Web, and within a couple of minutes, we found the answer. It was called cluster feeding, and it’s very normal.
But anytime something happens, especially in the middle of the night, the laptop is right there to quell our concerns.
That’s just a few of the things I’ve learned since becoming a parent, things that would have been handy to know in advance. If anyone has anything that they learned they want to add, please leave it in the comments, as I plan on doing a couple more of these as the kids get older.