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[personal profile] katieupsidedown
I feel like there should be a full disclosure clause on all things you get asked about as a kid. Like, you say you want to be a teacher when you grow up, Timmy? Let me tell you about teacher's unions and what the salaries are like compared to most jobs. Dora says she wants to get married? Well, Dora, I'd like to talk to you about alternative lifestyles for a minute...

So I've been thinking about how I spend fucking 45 hours a week with babies and how this is sort of ridiculous because I'm never going to have kids and I'm never going to work with kids again probably, so I'm going to know all this stuff about how to look after babies and never use it again.

And I was thinking about how if you're born physically female your parents give you baby dolls and they want you to to "mother" the dolls and it's supposed to prepare you to nurture others the rest of your life but, actually, what they tell you about babies does not at all scratch the surface of the things babies ACTUALLY do.

The following are some baby myths I learned as a kid, and the actuality of them.

1. Newborns will wake you up a lot at night, but they grow out of it.

What they don't tell you: Babies have to be trained to sleep. They don't do it naturally. This always mystifies me from an evolutionary standpoint. Other infant mammals get tired? They fall asleep. Babies get tired? If you're lucky you have one that falls asleep. If you aren't, then the baby gets overtired and it cries MORE and sleeps LESS and is harder to get to fall asleep. Sleep seems like something you would do like breathing, right? Not true at all. And even after months of sleep training, babies will STILL wake you up crying 1-3 times per night.

2. Babies smell wonderful.

What they don't tell you: Babies are not made of flowers and baked goods. They are still people, and they smell like people. If you bathe the baby, it will smell like baby soap, which does smell quite good. If you don't bathe the baby for a few days, it will begin to smell of wet dog and sour milk. It will also get weird crust and lint in its various rolls of skin, especially the ones on its neck because that's where milk dribbles. Oh, and breast milk? ALWAYS smells sour, even if it's fresh.

3. Baby poop is a weird color, but doesn't smell bad because the baby doesn't eat real food yet.

What they don't tell you: You know what else babies don't eat? Solids. You know what baby poop isn't? Solid. You know what happens 1-2 times (or more!) per week when a baby poops? The poop does not stay in the diaper. It goes up the baby's back, all over the baby's clothes (and you!) or out through one of the leg holes, all over the floor (and you!).

Also, once a baby is four months old and can roll over, say goodbye to easily changing that diaper and hello to changing the diaper with your right hand only while you pin the squirming, screaming baby to the table with your left arm. Somehow, the baby will still stick its foot directly into the dirty diaper. You won't notice until after you picked the baby up of course.

4. Babies put everything in their mouths.

What they don't tell you: No, really. EVERYTHING. They tell you this, but you don't truly understand it until you deal with it. From about three months, when babies start to grab things, up to a year or so, you are constantly on suicide watch. You think your floor is clean? You are wrong wrong wrong. There are dirt particles on your floor you can't see, but suddenly you WILL see them because the baby will find them and put them straight in its mouth.

Things babies find tasty: grass, dirt, dead bugs, rocks, leaves, sticks, paint chips, dust bunnies, paper, cardboard, electrical cords. No matter how well you think you've prevented it, the baby will find it. The baby will eat it. The baby will make you miserable for days waking you up twice as much as usual because its stomach hurts because it fucking ate paint. This seems like Darwinism to me. You tiny idiot! You ate paint! Why the fuck would you do that?! But as a caretaker it is your job to prevent this and it is amazing that any of us survive to adulthood because once upon a time we were all babies who ate paint.

5. If a baby cries, it needs one of the following things: food, sleep, or a diaper change.

What they don't tell you: I have already mentioned that getting a baby to sleep is a fucking pain in the ass, but let me reiterate this: it's a pain in the ass! it seems so simple: "Oh, process of elimination! The baby ate and is clean, it must be sleepy!" Yeah, good luck with that.

If you go with cry-it-out training, you have to listen to the baby scream for 5-15 minutes in its crib before it falls asleep every day for months. This is incredibly painful, because people are hardwired to find infant cries extremely fucking annoying so that we want to make them stop and therefore take care of the baby.

If you go with rocking the baby to sleep for every nap, you now have to find a way to set the baby down without waking it up. You can spend 20 minutes rocking an overtired infant while pacing the room only to set the sleeping baby down... and have it startle awake, screaming, forcing you to start over again. And the more tired the baby gets, the crankier it gets, and the harder it is to get it to sleep. Doesn't that seem counter-intuitive?

Oh, and I've never met a baby that actually cried when it needed a diaper change. Maybe if the baby has been in a wet diaper for a damn long time or has diaper rash, then it would probably cry, but babies are not aware of their bodily functions. The baby's brain is not going, "I say, I seem to have pissed myself. That is rather uncomfortable. Maybe I'd best scream till someone fixes it." If the baby is fed, and the baby is rested, and the baby is screaming, you are more likely to have a) a medical issue, b) teething, c) a bored baby who wants to be moved where it can see some new scenery, or d) a baby who cries for no good fucking reason, than you are to have a baby who cries because its diaper is wet.


In conclusion: babies make no sense. It is amazing the human race has lasted this long, seriously, because babies are bad at everything.
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katieupsidedown

February 2013

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