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Saturday, November 06, 2004  

Crash Course

I was reading What to Expect the First Year. I’d finished the chapter on newborns, and I felt ahead of the curve. I still had a couple of months to read the rest of the book, and then I’d come back to the newborn section and study it in more detail as the due date drew near. When M. Tiny was born, I would be calm, knowledgeable and prepared.

Of course, M. Tiny was born seven weeks ahead of schedule and right now I don’t even know where the damn book is.

But I’ve learned more from the experience than I could have from the book. There are lots of thing the book doesn’t tell you. For any of you out there who are relying on published works to prepare for parenthood, forget that. Do that smart thing and rely on me. Here are a few areas of preemie-care I can tell you a thing or two about.

Halloween: Three weeks is too young for trick-or-treating, especially for a preemie still four weeks out from his due date. I kept thinking he’d come around, but after five hours of screaming I had to admit defeat. Just wait till next year.

Laundry: There is a lot of it. If you had little to no control over your mouth, bladder, and bowels, you’d probably have a lot more laundry too. The advantage with a baby is that all the laundry is very small, so you can do a prodigious amount of it all at one time. And there’s no sorting, because I took a chance and learned that the dye from the light-blue clothes isn’t going to bleed and ruin the lighter-blue clothes .Whew.

The lack of pockets is a mixed blessing, though. On the one hand, I don’t have to go through them. On the other, no tips. Can't wait until he's old enough to have pockets. And an allowance.

Baby Formula: Do you have any idea how much it costs to buy a can of off-white dust that mixes with water to form a liquid that smells like a urine-soaked gym sock? We do. And we got a couple of free cans from the hospital and the pediatrician. We’re thinking that we’ll probably need to stretch the stuff out by cutting it with something cheaper, like flour or powdered milk or cocaine. And add a little more water to each bottle, tapering it off gradually so that he doesn’t even notice when we’re eventually screwing rubber nipples directly onto Aquafinas. He might not grow as fast this way, but at least the laundry will still be small.

Sleep: Everyone tells you you’ll get no sleep. Even people who have never had, cared for, met, or been a baby knows that parents of newborns get as much sleep as Christian Bale in The Machinist. This was the thing that worried me most about becoming a parent, because I need sleep. I love sleep. The only way I could love sleep more would be if I could somehow be awake to enjoy it. So I confess to having had some trepidation about giving so much of it up.

But nobody told me how quickly I would adapt, and how after only a couple of nights at home with a newborn, a night when you only have to wake up for two feedings becomes a decadent luxury. Because you know what’s better than going to sleep? Going back to sleep. Mmmzzzzzz.

Poo: The entry into parenthood is both an ascent into the sublime and a descent into the scatological. I knew I would become more fascinated with the volume, frequency, and consistency of my son’s poo than I am my own (which is, as longtime readers know, a lot), but if you had told me a month ago that this week I would watch a fellow human being lying on my bed while a warm coil of live shit issued forth from his rectum in real time and not freak out to the point of suicide, I probably would have freaked out to the point of suicide. And yet I watched just that and hardly freaked out at all. I credit some of my equanimity to the plastic pad he was lying on and the fact that it was my wife playing Johnny Bench with a diaper, but still. As such, Trash has given him yet another nickname, after a character from Homestar Runner. But I won't be calling him the Poopsmith in these pages on a regular basis. At least not yet.

But stay tuned.

Today's best search phrase: "Cuff roll my long pant legs up for her." Aww, what people won't do for love.

posted by M. Giant 4:05 PM 9 comments

9 Comments:

Word on the formula. It makes a crack habit, or even Starbucks look cheap.
As for the poo, just be glad he does it on his own. (Yeah, that isn't always the case). Hope you and Trash get some good sleep.

By Blogger Stacee, at November 6, 2004 at 6:44 PM  

Hee! I give it 6 weeks before you *exclusively* call M. Tiny 'the Poopsmith.'

By Anonymous Anonymous, at November 6, 2004 at 8:06 PM  

No kidding on the formula. For extra fun? Have the kid on the specialty expensive ass 'allergic issues' formula. Bleh.

Hint: sell your soul, go on the enfamil or similac or whatever brand you're using website, and sign up for their 'special delivery' 'bundle of joy and shit' or whatever they call it club. They will send you a box of samples and, more importantly, you will find yourself mysteriously receiving coupons in the mail from them. Woo. Hoo.

By Blogger chicagowench, at November 7, 2004 at 9:19 AM  

Just to maybe help you out, my sister just had her first baby, and she signed up at enfamil.com (im not sure which type of formula you use) but they send you a box of formula containers on the due date and then they send you letters each month with lots of coupons to buy more formula (its basically like toys r us bucks but for enfamil) and every store takes them (even bjs, costco, and sams club!). So we signed up a bunch of relatives and friends with fake due dates, and now she gets like $45 bucks a month off her formula purchases..its worth it to look into!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at November 8, 2004 at 10:38 AM  

Ditto on the mailing lists. Also, every time you go to the pediatrician, hit them up for formula. Formula companies just give them BUCKETS of the stuff, and they're happy to get rid of it. I didn't know that with my first child. Darn.

Also, liquid is stinkier and stains worse than powder, just if you were wondering. Oh, and for some reason, Carnation Good Start will turn things an alarming shade of pink if it sits on cloth wet for too long.

Oh, and yes, be VERY glad that M. Tiny isn't on the "For the kid who is allergic to everything" formula. My friend's kid had to be on it, and I think she *seriously* considered stripping at night to pay for all of the formula. Yikes.

~Ellie

By Anonymous Anonymous, at November 8, 2004 at 10:54 AM  

After the formula checks run out (which happens far too soon), look into generic formula. Even though I hate to shop there, I make special formula runs to Wal-Mart to pick up Parents' Choice formula. It's half the price of Enfamil et al. HALF. If M. Tiny doesn't have any super-special nutritional needs that require an unusual formula blend, it's the way to go.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at November 8, 2004 at 12:46 PM  

My daughter was one of those babies on the special formula (Enfamil Nutramigen). Those cans are $25 each! I'm so happy she's weaned off the formula now. Of course she's allergic to dairy and soy, so we're buying Rice Milk at $2.49/box and using up 5 boxes/week, but it's still cheaper than the formula!

By Blogger justjook, at November 8, 2004 at 4:13 PM  

Oh, goodness. I'm crying(I've been laughing that hard!). Everyone's comments (including yours) have had me reminiscing over my experiences as a new mom to a premmie. My son was born at 26 weeks. I didn't get to buy "What to Expect the First Year" before he was born. I didn't even have a crib at that point. He is on premmie formula now, and it really is expensive. It is definetly difficult entering parenthood for the first time, but having to buy special clothes and expensive formula that has just made me loose even more sleep!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at November 8, 2004 at 6:01 PM  

If you want to stick with the name brand formula, it's really cheap at Babies R Us--$4 to $5 less per can than at Target! The trick is they put it in the back corner of the store, so you have to walk past all the little cute clothes and toys to get there. But if you can be strong, it's worth it to go to BRU and buy up whatever they've got in stock.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at November 10, 2004 at 8:22 AM  

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