Hi! My name is Anton and I have a daughter named Sasha who has recently turned 1.5 years old. I’ve been married for 10 years and for half of that time, my wife and I had been planning for our baby. We were creating lists and schemes, checking all the polyclinics and maternity hospitals in advance, as well as storming through all our city’s kid shops. This is the story of how everything went against our plans.
Here’s a list of my expectations about having a child that never came true. I hope it will help others to become better prepared to have kids when the time comes.
11. We were trying to get ready for absolutely everything and our heads were a total mess by the 35th week of pregnancy.
So the first thing we had to do after the birth of our daughter was to forget everything. And we managed to ditch the biggest part of that information thanks to hormones! The rest got lost in the labyrinths of our mind within the first several days of having our kid. Now we can say that there is only a small part of what we knew that turned out to be helpful.
- About first aid: It’s necessary to know what to do in case a kid chokes on their food or drink, gets a burn, swallows chemicals, has allergic reactions, gets bitten by an insect, or comes down with a fever. We hope you’ll never have to use this knowledge but it’s necessary to know how to give proper first aid. It also helps to cope with stress because you’ll be able to face any dangerous situation with confidence instead of panic.
- About breastfeeding: Of course, women are taught in maternity hospitals how to breastfeed babies correctly but it’s not always possible to use those instructions at home, especially if you’ve never seen it done before. Our daughter started to feel anxious while breastfeeding at 1.5 months and we couldn’t understand why. Having ruled out lack of sleep, colic, and new impressions, we sought help from a consultant. As it turned out, all we needed to do was move Sasha a couple of centimeters down and hug her. Such questions don’t always get resolved so easily but fortunately, professionals are always there to help us.
- About the baby’s physical activity: Our daughter started to hold her head nearly upright soon after her birth. She also learned to sit, crawl and walk much earlier than the standard child, according to the Internet. Due to the abundance of horrors we heard regarding crooked legs, weak muscles, etc., we’d always meet our orthopedist with anxiety. However, they’d always calm us down and confirm our daughter was ready to face a new stage in her physical development.
- About normal conditions of a little human: Newborn acne, toxic erythema, and stool of varying colors and consistencies are all things that can worry you. But it’s important not to lose your mind and remember one simple rule: a runny nose is not so scary and a bout of diarrhea and a fever are no reason to panic. However, if your baby encounters a disease for the first time, it’s better to see your pediatrician.
- About the limited endurance of babies: The approximate framework of their wake time can be found on the internet. However, our lives became much easier when we stopped comparing our daughter’s natural sleep schedule to what the world wide web said and accepted the fact that she had a different regimen.
10. We were sure that the answer to any question could be found on the Internet. Turns out, there were too many of them!
Like any modern parents, we search for information on the internet in any foreign situation. And there really is a lot of information out there, but it should be selected carefully because all kids are different (surprise!) and what works for one kid, doesn’t always work for another.
9. We assumed that what we learned was the most updated information, forgetting that changes are inevitable.
During the 1.5 years that we’ve been raising our daughter, the positions of doctors and social activists have changed on several points:
- Dill water ( which is believed to help colic) was considered potentially toxic for kids.
- Moving while sleeping in a stroller or in a sling is no longer considered harmful and it was even proven that this type of sleeping alone won’t cause anything irreversible to the baby’s central nervous system.
- Doctor Spock has been partially rehabilitated and has admitted he’s not the monster he was once made out to be. After all, he was the first one to think about the needs of a child and the need for parents to adapt to them.
8. We hoped that our parents would remember what their kids were like and that they’d have the answers to all our burning questions.
If you can’t find an answer to a question on the Internet, grandparents are the next best thing, right? This is simply not true. As it turns out, they don’t remember what happened to you as a baby during your first years of life. Simply ask your mom and dad what you were able to do when you were born. I’m sure their memories have stored away information of you running, crawling, using the toilet, and speaking almost right after birth. Of course, over time they will finally recall something and even give a couple of pieces of sound advice but their recommendations like washing the baby in boiled water, not letting the baby cry in order to prevent its bellybutton from getting untied, and not getting the baby used to staying in your arms for too long will be long forgotten.
7. We expected that during pregnancy we’d walk a lot and my wife would be able to maintain a healthy weight.
Yes, that was the plan but my wife Katya severely injured her leg during pregnancy — so much so that she required surgery. Eventually, she had to use crutches and a knee fixator which meant we had to say good-bye to walking. Of course, this same problem won’t happen to everyone but the point is, you never know how your situation will affect your plans. We weren’t even able to walk after the birth of our daughter, but I’ll tell you more about that in a bit.
6. We were sure we had to buy beautiful clothes in the smallest size.
We were sure we had to buy a lot of things as early as possible. However, we didn’t end up using most of those purchases at all. Here’s what we have to say about the most unnecessary things you can buy for your baby:
- First place goes to cute, tiny T-shirts, jumpsuits, and hats. Our daughter was born one size bigger than half of the things we bought for her in advance. That left us having to refresh her wardrobe constantly.
- Beautiful and stylish toys of pastel colors and stroller accessories at the price of an airplane wing were not necessary. We came to realize that a person who’s just been born and is seeing the world for the first time is more interested in bright colors. As a result, our daughter was playing with toys and mobiles of incredibly bright colors from “Ikea”, while the rest of the expensive toys we bought her ended up in boxes in the garage.
- Beautiful and expensive strollers are a waste. Unfortunately, neither the price nor the reviews online can guarantee that your kid will enjoy long walks in it. Our daughter, for example, refused to sleep in the stroller almost right away.
- Baby beds are useless. While some people can disassemble an AK-47 with their eyes closed under one minute, we can do the same with the baby bed. Over the last year and a half, we’ve managed to assemble and disassemble our child’s baby bed at least 10 times hoping that our daughter would agree to sleep in it. But from the first day of her birth till now, our kid’s favorite sleeping place is between her mom and dad.
- Pacifiers and bottles aren’t a must-have. You can disapprove of it but we’re the parents who have never given our kid a pacifier or a bottle with a nipple on the end. Although, we’ve bought a couple just in case and have received several more as presents.
5. We were sure that we’d never zealously monitor other children and their parents.
Turns out, it’s very hard to control parents’ ambitions and a playground is a competitive place. Even using earbuds and listening to your favorite playlist can’t keep you distracted. You can be listening in on other fathers’ conversation about what their kid learned to do last week and at the same time, you realize you’re trying to teach your kid the same things. That’s how Sasha learned to high-five and finish the last lines of nursery songs.
4. We thought that we’d finally go around to all our favorite city spots with the stroller.
This time it wasn’t trauma, but rather, another delusion that prevented us from walking around town. When you start thinking about having your own kids, you involuntarily begin to look closely at young parents and how slowly they move along the city streets with a stroller carrying a sleeping baby. Turns out, it’s not always like this. Our daughter refused to lie in the stroller and sleep in it. All we could do was take 15-minute distance runs to the closest park. That’s how much time Sasha required to get out of the cradle, onto the handle and onto us. After some time we managed to find a way around it.
- You’ll need a baby carrier in which you can transport your baby in a comfortable and harmless way. You can also use a sling which is in fact a piece of long and tight fabric but it’s more difficult to put on. Once you fasten your kid onto you, you’re free to go wherever you want.
- Keep a pile of toys around. The more we are able to distract our kid, the more distance we can cover. The main thing to remember is that there should be enough toys for the way back as well.
- Find places where you can stay. These consist mostly of kid-friendly restaurants and cafes where you can let your kid crawl on a sofa, have a snack, and change their diaper in a clean and cozy bathroom.
3. We hoped that lack of sleep in the first months wouldn’t turn us into nervous zombies.
We were in ignorant bliss until we had a fight one night because of the suspicion of an insufficiently pure spoon to use for dill water. After that, we decided to sacrifice some of our activities and hobbies for the sake of healthy sleep.
2. We were going to pay as much attention to ourselves as we did before the birth of the baby.
There is almost no one who posts photos on their Facebook or Instagram accounts of the mess that a young kid can make within an hour in a perfectly cleaned space. Additionally, there are so many deals waiting for you while you sit and watch your baby make their first pyramid out of toy bricks. Eventually, when your baby is fed, washed, and put to sleep, parents have to choose: to finish all the house chores and do things they were postponing within the day or to sleep. Guess what our decision was…
1. We were afraid that we’d feel bored with a small child.
You simply have no time to feel bored even during the first 3-4 months of sitting at home. In the breaks between Sasha’s feeding times, sleeping, and diaper changes, we also had to put her on her belly to wash her, massage her, to relax her, and to put her to sleep again. Somewhere there in between the pauses, we managed to find a moment to eat ourselves, to take a shower, and to change clothes.
All these things don’t mean that we’ve been unhappy since we had our daughter. Conversely, it was the happiest time of our lives. We were getting ready for one thing but eventually got something completely different and it was the coolest surprise ever.
Do you have kids? What things went against your expectations when you had them? We’d be glad to hear from you in the comments!