Monday, November 8, 2010

Top 11 Things I Didn't Know I Didn't Know: Pregnancy and Infancy

There are some things you don't know because you don't want to know, and some you don't know because you don't ask, and some you don't know because you don't know to ask. Today's post is the last group. Stuff about which I'd never thought enough, to know I didn't know about pregnancy, and having an infant.

11. Your belly button might not pop out. Even if you really really want it to. Seriously, only 80% or so of ladies have this happen. No one told me it might not, until way into the pregnancy and by then it was this lovely thing I'd been promising my puking self. I was SERIOUSLY disappointed. Stretch marks? Of course. Cute pop-when-the-turkey's-done belly button? Nope.

10. People will be shocked and horrified if you don't want to know the sex. Now, you can't really tell from this costume either, yes I had friends who looked REALLY closely. All during pregnancy I had complete strangers say things like "That's just selfish! How will you shop? How can you be prepared?" I think I'd have to go with "The same way everyone in the history of the world did it before the last forty years or so." Besides, should it really matter whether an infant has indoor or outdoor plumbing? I like Garfunkel and Oates' take on it, personally:

9. There are options between bronzing and/or eating the placenta and pretending it doesn't exist by having it disposed of as medical waste. Not that I judge any of the above options, or think it really matters if you bury it under a special tree or grind it into pill form to treat post partem depression (seriously, you should check out the research on that... pretty cool!) In our case, I got to see it, poke at it, save it in some tupperware and donate it to a search and rescue group. It turns out human tissue is a tricky thing to get and one placenta can train a rescue dog for almost a year. Here's the group: ATSAR.

8. When a baby loses the umbilical cord stump, they might actually LOSE it. Seriously, one diaper change it was there, the next it was gone. My grandmother suggested we check his pockets; "Little boys are always sticking strange things in those." No such luck. I was gonna be a big nerd and save it for the scrap book. FAIL.

7. Your siblings will have super strong reactions to your child. OK, it sounds silly, but I was expecting my husband to react with immediate and strong attachment, I saw it coming in my parents, but witnessing my baby brother trash talk my newborn while in complete worshipful adoration was a transormative experience. This amazing photograph was taken by professional photographer Anne Almasy, who attended Jax' birth and wrote about it. She and her very talented husband make up the infamous team "Dan & Anne" and are also Jax' Godparents.

6. Sleeping "through the night" is defined as a six hour stretch. Not that Jax has been interested in a stretch that long since he was a couple months old, but really, six hours is technically the mystical number about which everyone is so excited. Many older babies can, and do sleep for this and even longer stretches, like 12 hours. However, I would be remiss if I didn't warn you to be concerned if a very young infant is going this long without eating. We're talking tiny tummies that need frequent feedings. FYI, it's also perfectly normal to have a child who wakes up for comfort or to nurse well into the first year.

5. Newborns poop pretty much every time they eat; tiny, seedy, poops. I had never known this happened. I'd worked with older babies, but this was pretty bizarre to me. FYI, because we're on the topic, breast milk poop does not have a "pleasant" odor. Sure, it smells less than formula poo, and way better than a variety of poo from solids, but anyone who tells you any poo has a pleasant odor is just silly, or nasally challenged. (And remember that to smell something, you have to breath in tiny bits of it... mmmmmm poop).

4. Somewhere around 8 weeks babies go from pooing after pretty much every feeding, to not pooing for long stretches. Like, a week, or in the case of Jax, 10 days. The tiny little digestive track slowly but surely improves and suddenly absorbs pretty much everything. No one lets moms in on this little secret, which can lead to a pretty serious freak out. Just sayin' I wish I'd had the heads up.

3. Just like wedding dresses and maternity clothing, baby clothes sizing is just a silly and random number placed in the lining to confuse new moms. Gerber generally runs small, Carter's seems shorter and wider, Children's Place seems made for children who morph randomly from big to small and back. At the rate children spurt through sizes it shouldn't really matter, but it's sad to never really know what will fit until you try it on. Jax currently can wear several 3 month size shirts... but anything with footies has to be 12-18 months... go figure, and good luck!

2. If you're going to do something every day/every month, etc. make it as simple as possible. Sounds dumb, but as someone who has tracked every feeding and diaper for going on ten months, has stayed up super late the night before a monthly birthday for a photo shoot on an assembled mat with corresponding block props, and still feels REALLY guilty about three days of his life that lack a single picture, I'm telling you to just let it go, and Keep It Simple Slacker (Slacker, 'cause now no matter what you'll feel like you shoulda lived up to my awesomeness)

1. Pregnancy Brain and Mommy Brain are myths. Yep, turns out that despite consistent self-reports, pregnant moms and new moms actually score the same, or BETTER than control groups on a variety of measures. Forgot to recommend it in my reading post, but for a full on fascinating explanation, check out:

What other things do you wish someone had told you? What totally caught you off guard? What did you think was going to happen, but didn't?


  1. And sometimes your belly button pops...and stays that way.


    Freaking umbilical hernia. :(

  2. I'm still heartbroken that I might not get an outie.

  3. And sometimes half of your belly button pops out, and the rest stays tacked down because the scar tissue is too tight.. And it looks funny... :-/