Plus 5 must-haves for the first 5 months:
We took our twin boys home last week – children #3 and #4 – yet two more helpless, constant reminders what a colossal pain in the ass human babies are. I’ve started wearing condoms around the house to make sure I don’t slip up and have more.
Babies just eat, whine and wet – that’s it, nothing else – every moment of every day, for five months.
When you dare put them down, carefully leaning over the rock ‘n play like a well-trained ninja so you can brush your teeth, splash some water on your face (the Canadian shower), or skip hygiene and use your five minutes to pour a Tequila Sunrise (light on the O.J.), the doorbell rings, the dog barks, and the baby starts fussing.
It starts with a feeble “eh”, like something out of a fetus possum, perhaps an albino suddenly exposed to sunlight.
If you don’t jump right into action – like Batman, in the Batmobile, directly under the Batsignal (I don’t care if you’re naked, the shades are open, and shampoo suds are dripping down your face, you don’t get three minutes to change in the phone booth), it escalates to the most grinding, grating, whaling punishment known or imagined.
Why is it so unsettling? Pour me a stiff one, and I’ll tell you.
Nails, meet chalkboard
I love my kids (the older ones especially), but this is science talking. Humans are altricial, meaning born (if not hatched, like lizards) totally, blindingly helpless.
That feeling we get when they cry – OMG something is dying, make it stop, make it stop!! – is biology telling us to tend to our totally dependent and altogether vulnerable young. So manipulated we are, like ants in a long line of ants bringing sugar cubes to the queen.
Damn instincts…survival of the species over all else. Free will, my ass. Babies, the invalids they are, feeding and clothing them isn’t even enough. Not by a long-shot.
You must (a) hold them close; want a good laugh? You should see me in the skin-to-skin shirt Ashley bought me, which, for the good of the species, opens for nestling up to my hairy warm chest, (b) entertain them constantly; I’m now talking to grown men at the office in baby talk I’ve become so conditioned to it, and (c) six times per day, bounce them around the stove with the fan on (the ultimate white noise machine).
Each night by morning, my once-beautiful master bedroom looks like a homeless drunk climbed through a broken window at Babies R’ Us, knocked everything off the shelves, turned the heat up to 90, vomited, then took a crap on the floor before sneaking out the back. There are space-heaters, baby swings, gliders, breast pumps, breast milk, changing tables, diaper cream, and Goddamn phalanges (for the breast pump) everywhere.
The coddling is constant, so needy they are, like an insecure stripper suddenly revealing a Boston accent she hides after a few drinks (without her redeeming qualities).
And hey, I’m just a dad. Moms have it worse, spending these months as sleep-deprived dairy cows, milked by both man and machine one of every three hours.
The whole thing is a figurative bloodbath, I’m not going to lie.
If you’re not pregnant yet, don’t do it. Take the $10,000 you’d spend on labor and delivery and plan two weeks at the Four Season’s on Wailea Beach. Order up some Mai Tai’s and count your blessings. The species doesn’t need your offspring. Resist the instinct, and save yourself. Relish your freedom (no shame), and we’ll all envy you.
Yes, we have Nordstrom diaper bags and all the latest baby trinkets they’re pushing, but some days we’d trade it all for a good night sleep and a shower, let alone the lost freedom we never knew we had, plus two weeks in the sand and surf on Maui.
And for you expecting parents that have already walked the plank with a baby on the way, here are five things to help get you through it. Try to remember: it gets better. The first five months are brutal, the second five are a little better, and after 10 months, you have your groove. Humans start getting more fun then, I promise.
I know, bullshit, you’re thinking. We’re not pampered rich people, we take our wipes at room temperature, thank you. But hear me out. You’re changing 10-12 diapers per day, and each time you bring that cold, wet wipe to the babies’ chubby little ass, you’re going to get one of those dreaded “eh” reactions. There’s too much damn mustardy poop everywhere to get the albino-possum changed in time to stop the downward spiral. Heat up the wipes, and you just bought yourself 45 seconds. Now move fast, ant-man.
Again, a dozen diapers per day (two dozen in my case), half filled with baby crap. And trust me, what starts as a urine-soaked, poop-filled diaper becomes something even more foul after a few days of fermentation. A regular trashcan isn’t going to cut it. These bad-boys quarantine the rotting stink-bombs like spent nuclear rods at Los Alamos.
You can’t sleep under the stove, and don’t waste your time with the white noise machines or the Sleep Sheep (except in a pinch, and then by all means, fire up the damn sheep). Use your phone, computer, or iPod, with a good speaker dock, and turn up the volume on the Waves, Thunderstorm, or Passing Train. Your babies will sleep better, and so will you. After a night of the Passing Train, everything else is just, well, white noise.
Part swing, part bouncer, part crib, this versatile machine replaces all three. It’s your last best chance to put the little sucker down for 10 minutes and take a hot shower. I wish they had one my size. I would gladly strap in right now for 12 hours straight.
Swaddling your baby is critical if you want the little bastard to sleep for more than 11 minutes consecutively. What’s better than a good burrito wrap? VELCRO®, man’s miracle. Thank goodness for George de Mestral and his fateful 1940’s hunting trip, when the Swiss engineer noticed tiny hooks on the cockle-burs that caused them to stick to his pants. He put them under a microscope, and the rest is history. These beauties buy you an extra 29 minutes of independent sleep per nap on average.
So, there you have it, folks. If it’s too late for you and yours to grab your shades and pack your adult luggage (sans the diaper cream and phalanges) for 10 days in Tahiti, then you may as well act like a good boy scout, and be prepared. With a few stiff drinks and a ton of patience, these five items will get you through the first five months.
After that, get yourself a Bumbo and Jolly Jumper, and the real fun begins.
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