I happened across my youngest daughter’s baby book gathering dust on the shelf this weekend. Flicking through it I realised I haven’t updated it since she was a couple of weeks old.
I look at my toddler’s baby book and it’s full of dates marking the important milestones (see why I’m less inclined to follow these second time around here). It has pictures of her nursery, obviously before it was the den of chaos it is now, and charting her first year as she changed so much month by month.
My seven-month-old’s book has no pictures in. Also I’ll be buggered if I can remember when she rolled over (was it 12 weeks or earlier? When do they normally roll over?) or first smiled. Sorry if that makes me a terrible mum but it’s the truth. It’s not that I am not thrilled every time she does something new. This weekend she started saying “Mama” clearly directed at me and my heart could burst it’s so beautiful. It’s just the weeks are such a blur these days I’m lucky if I remember the last time I showered. Was it yesterday or the day before??
So I tried to back date it as best I could so when I show it to her one day she doesn’t disown me.
However it got me thinking as I looked at all the cutesy little milestones that these baby books don’t reflect the reality of raising a newborn. Any mum-to-be who receives one of these books at a baby shower would flick through the pages with nothing but excitement at the prospect of filling out all these lovely little skills her baby has learned, recording how she spent her days and writing down the names of all the little friends she met. And she’s right to feel that excitement, it is exciting. But it’s also flipping hard.
So in the interests of honesty, here’s what I would like to see in an Honest Baby Book:
First time your baby did an up the back s**t.
These take you by surprise as you expect nappies to contain all the mess. They don’t when baby lies at just the right angle and fires hard. Plus as they are on a solely liquid diet it will go through the vest, baby grow, blanket and whatever nice top you were wearing to pose for photos. Extra brownie points for recording the first up the back AND front s**t.
First time your baby projectile vomited milk in your face.
That comedy moment where you were cooing about how cute your baby is as you lifted her above your head only for her to puke with no warning needs to be remembered. In years to come you’ll see the funny side.
First time you went outside for a walk and took everything but the kitchen sink.
We took my first for her first walk when I was about four days post giving birth. I packed three changes of clothes, 10 nappies, two packs of wipes, several toys and two muslins. We walked for about 15 minutes before I got tired and needed to head home. Baby slept the entire time.
First time your baby cried all night.
Although every prospective parent knows a baby will cry, and if they don’t they’re in for a hell of a shock, it is still a total headf**k when you can do nothing to make it stop. Fed them, changed them, rocked them to sleep, swaddled them, none of it makes a difference. Finally you discover a particular walk that works to make baby sleep. After an hour you sit down for a rest and it starts all over again.
First time you cried all night.
First time your baby pooped in the bath.
Normally by this point you recognise the signs a poo is on its way. When they’re in the bath everything slows down as you desperately think what to do. Do you let it happen in the bath, do you put them on a towel and let it happen there?
First time your heart nearly stopped when baby tried to roll off the changing mat.
I remember my hands were full as I reorganised the shelf above the changing mat. I hadn’t stepped away but it took more than a second to grab a limb as my laughing baby tried to take a dive over the edge. That’s another three years off my life. Between that and the effects of sleep deprivation my number should have been up last Thursday.
First time you spent three hours Googling pictures of rashes.
GPs must hate Google. It sparks all manner of paranoia in parents. We are all hyper aware of rashes, and rightly so, but trouble is kids get random marks and rashes all the time. There’s a billion pictures of child rashes out there and most the time looking at them doesn’t make you feel better as the potential list of illnesses is horrifying. This can also be applied to “normal poo in a newborn”.
First time your baby slept through the night but you stayed up all night worrying if they were still breathing.
Once your baby starts sleeping through the night it will take you at least a month before you start sleeping through the night. Babies have a wonderful way of keeping you on your toes by going completely still and breathing so silently you have to put your face by their nose to check they’re still ok.
Have you been diligent about filling out your baby book? I would love to hear your thoughts.