When I was pregnant with my first child, my perception about newborns was pretty typical. I would catch myself daydreaming about how life with a new baby might be. I would gaze at his pristine nursery - stainless crib sheets, sparkling new changing table, perfectly spotless onesies - and envision him peacefully sleeping the nights away; chubby, happy and content.
Well, let’s just say when he arrived I quickly realized my notion of life with a newborn was…well, er… flawed. My son was really skinny and his head was cone-shaped and his legs were tucked up like chicken wings and he was…yellow!? Where was my plump little cherub?
Infants often arrive in this world looking and acting quite differently than we expect. If you haven’t spent time around newborns lately, here are a few common infant behaviors and traits you might not know about.
They’re Funny Looking
In some cases infants emerge with temporary odd features like a squished face, a cone-shaped head, wrinkled skin, scrawny limbs, dark body hair and big heads. Premature babies are often born with what looks like a light downy (hair) called lanugo. This can be rather shocking for parents to see, but it typically falls out within a few weeks. A squished or slack looking face will subside as your baby’s facial muscles form and most of the time a cone-shaped head resolves within a week.
Just remember your baby has been floating in utero for nine months, so his body needs some time to transition to life outside of the womb. In other words, this is all normal!
Instantly Falling in Love
When it comes to being a parent, some things are hard to admit. If you’ve brought your new baby home and you don’t immediately feel that magical connection, you’re actually not alone. Yes, most parents say they “instantly” fell in love with their baby as soon as they saw him or her, but sometimes that connection takes a little longer.
My son spent the first week of his life in ICU, so we didn’t get to spend that special time together that most parents experience. Instead of the blissful bonding moments we were expecting, our reality was scary, awkward and emotional. But after we brought him home from the hospital and had time to bond with him, we began to feel like a family and everything made sense. Just like each parent is different, each bonding experience is also different.
Babies Are Really Messy
It’s hard to believe so many messy things can come out of such a tiny human! Most parents experience a sneak peek of this in the hospital when the baby passes meconium, a greenish-black, tar-like stool. It is made up of everything the baby was ingesting during utero. Even though it may look scary, it’s actually a good sign baby’s bowels are working well. Infants often spit up a lot and they’re capable of explosive bowel movements at the most inopportune times. Just keep a well-stocked diaper bag and include a clean shirt for you too!
Tick Tock, Forget The Clock
Even the most organized parent who can multitask like it’s an Olympic event may be sidelined by a newborn. How can this little bundle of joy be so time-consuming? If you feel like the first weeks of motherhood are a blur of diapers, feedings, burping sessions, crying spells and rocking, have no fear! This is life with a newborn.
It’s helpful to set your expectations accordingly and go easy on yourself. You and your baby will find your groove and all of these baby-related tasks will become quicker and easier. It may take a little bit of time, but you’ll be able to leave the house without breaking a sweat.
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