Apparently there are a number of things that seem to be known to the vast majority of parents, yet never seem to be shared with expectant/new parents until well after they have discovered the information for themselves. For example, did you know that a newborn can be perfectly calm and content... sleeping (or pseudo-sleeping at any rate) on your chest, and suddenly decide that it is the perfect time to emulate the ear-shattering, brain-numbing scream of the ancient Nacirema war priests for random ten minute (if lucky... three hours if you get the short straw and have a colicky baby) intervals? Yeah, that's not something people tell you about in advance...
Don't get me wrong, there are a number of great things about having a newborn no one ever manages to express either. For instance, the first time your kid smiles at you, you pretty much forget about how close you've gotten to wanting to send him off to military school/strangle him/give him back to the hospital and, suddenly, find yourself pumped so full of dopamine (and for all intents and purposes subjected to a form of lobotomy apparently, since you unexpectedly forget all the negative things that have been building and bringing you closer and closer to insanity over the past few weeks) that the kid could scream for an hour, pee through his diaper onto you, spit up on and down your shirt, and claw your neck with those razor-sharp talons that are supposedly fingernails, all at the same time, and you'd still just melt at the sight of that precious little smile.
Ok, that doesn't sound great, but you get the idea. So, I thought it might be a nice idea to put together a quick list of the things I've discovered that I would have liked to have had shared with me prior to bringing home a miniature human spawn. These are in no particular order:
- Negative - We already covered the ancient Nacirema war priest screams. This is really only one of a handful of truly dickish behaviors your child will engage in at some point over the course of the first few hours/days/weeks/months of life.
- Positive - Seriously, nothing can prepare you for the awe-inspiring power of an infant's smile. S/he can practically get away with murder at this stage. Instead of the Chewbacca Defense, I give you the Innocent-and-Happy-Smile-of-a-Newborn Defense.
- Negative - Babies do not breathe like normal people. Sometimes s/he will breathe in what appears to be a perfectly normal, regulated inhale/exhale pattern. Most of the time, though, there will be random pauses, sometimes wheezing, sometimes rasping, sometimes groaning, and sometimes just silence that will, at every possible opportunity, cause you to think your child is dead or dying. I wish I was kidding. This is, without a doubt, your child finding any possible way to pay you back for anything you have done in your lifetime to make others fear for your life, by a magnitude of thirty-fold, by the time they reach a year old.
- Positive - I'm pretty sure Heaven on Earth is the feeling of having your child lay on your chest and fall asleep, hands wrapped as far around you as they can reach. I don't even know what else to compare it to. Maybe being able to drink Jack Daniels constantly without any of the negative side effects, just the buzz? Oh, or maybe the rose scented farts of a diamond-skinned Unicorn? The point is, there just isn't anything else that compares.
- Negative - Babies do not have fingernails. Instead, they have razor-sharp talons of death that constantly claw at your neck and throat, trying to scratch through your esophagus and dig into your trachea with every Nacerima war priest scream. Yes, they're that sharp. ALL. THE. TIME. Even after cutting and filing them down.
These are only a couple of things that I didn't know before experiencing them firsthand. Naturally the positives are things that you really can't know until you experience them anyway, but the negatives are things that I could have definitely done with some forewarning about. I probably wouldn't have really believed anyone telling me those things anyway, but at least it would have been filed away in the back of my mind to be recalled when needed. There will be more to post, I'm sure. For now, though, it seems I must run. The mini Nacerima war priest is calling...