Miscellaneous reflections after an entire week of parenting

First of all: I love it. Better than Cats. I am going to do it again and again. (Well, maybe just one “again”.)

You can plan the birth you want and you can get something really, really different. But in the end it’s the ten fingers and ten toes that matter.

Staring at your little girl puts all the field experiments in perspective. Suddenly those emails can wait a week. Or three.

You love her even if she cries from 11pm to 3am and then promptly covers you in liquid poo.

You will be very glad if you buy a good camera in advance. But also keep your snapshot camera or phone in your pocket.

The Times quotes some dubious research that older parents are less unhappy than younger parents. The only reason I think this finding is true: older parents have more friends with children whom, if my experience is any guide, repeatedly tell the prospective father that (1) he has no idea what it will be like, (2) but it will be really, really, really hard, and yet (3) you’ll love it anyways. Reality is constant but the gap to expectations is smaller.

The best gift we received: a hastily hand-painted set of nested babushka dolls. First: Chris. Next, Jeannie. Inside that, a doll simply labeled “survey data” (it’s so true). Last, Amara.

My first instinct with anything new is to turn to the manual. There are some profoundly ridiculous practices, movements and recommendations. Probably the best sense I have encountered comes from Michel Cohen, whose philosophy can probably be summarized as:

  • Most of the stuff people say is myth or silliness
  • There’s really not much you can do to kill your baby so relax
  • Breastfeed and innoculate you fools
  • You are not a bad parent if they cry — let them learn to soothe themselves sometimes
  • Try to sleep

The famous Brazleton was helpful but pompous with a hint of creepy grandpa.

Even in 2011 you have to work very hard to end up with a girl’s wardrobe that is less than 80% pink.

The woman who figured out that a crying baby is soothed by bouncing on the yoga ball deserves a Nobel prize.

It’s extremely unhelpful to get a second degreee burn on your right palm five days after your daughter is born. Two-inch blister + liquid poo = not good.

You can cradle your sleeping baby in one arm for hours and read your Kindle in the other, even with a blister, and read more than you did before the birth. (Yes, I know this is probably extremely temporary, but please don’t disillusion me just yet.)