Three months ago, I wrote in this space all about the advice I’d been receiving during the lead-up to having my first child. We’ll it’s been a tumultuous, exciting, exhausting three months, and now it’s time to grade the unsolicited advice I got.
Piece of advice: Get your sleep now
I guess there’s a reason everyone says this: It’s a good one. At one low point in the first few weeks, I was so exhausted my wife caught me trying to rock a pillow to sleep, thinking it was the baby. We’d hold ‘family emergency nap time’, which meant as soon as that baby was asleep, so were we, regardless of what time it was. Things have normalized considerably, but the fact remains: I be tired.
Piece of advice: Everything will change
OK, while this is certainly true, it didn’t come as a surprise. In fact, pregnancy kind of prepares you for some of the logistical juggling. But really, the logistics are mind-boggling. Days suddenly feel very long when you realize you have to have a man (or woman) on deck at all hours. It’s like staffing a Kinkos. Exactly like staffing a Kinkos. Getting out to see Moonrise Kingdom required the same amount of planning and preparation as the making of Moonrise Kingdom.
Piece of advice: Make time for yourself
Having returned to work, I don’t spend nearly as much time as my wife does with the baby, so I’m always excited to see them at the end of the day. I’ve been able to shave off chunks of time to see friends and perform with my hilarious sketch troupe, Rulers of the Universe. For her part, my wife still seems so fascinated by this baby (and who can blame her?) that the togetherness isn’t overwhelming. But that may change.
Piece of advice: Spend every single moment with that child
Well, in the first few weeks, there was very little choice. When she wasn’t sleeping, she was being held, fed, comforted or passed around for photo ops (many, many photo ops). When she was asleep, we were staring at her wondering if it was normal that she was making all these sounds. Turns out it was. So, since there was pretty much no choice…
Grade: F (Oooooooooo…..)
Piece of Advice: Are you going to be having a natural birth/breastfeeding/co-sleeping/placenta-eating?
It’s funny, people seem to care a whole lot less about this once the baby’s born. People want to quietly judge your birth plan before the fact, but are happy to just hear the story once it’s over. Now it’s time to quietly judge a lifetime of parenting!
Mostly, the advice we received was well-intentioned and valuable. One piece I forgot to add to my original list that has proven to be vital was the importance of getting a good stroller. These things can cost an alarming amount (as much as a used car) but a good one with ample storage is invaluable. We went with a Phil & Teds model.
And that brings me to a final word for any soon-to-be parents who are reading, and that word is ‘stuff’. Get ready to carry so, so much stuff with you. It’s shocking. A little 10-pound person requires 178 pounds of stroller, diapers, wipes, toys, carseat, carseat adapters and on and on. It’s all needed, but it really does, every day, drive home point number two: everything has changed.
Paul Beer is a Toronto writer, actor and comedian. You can follow him on Twitter @pauldanielbeer.