You might be lacking sleep and money, but one thing you won’t be short of is advice. This will come from friends, family, cow-orkers or just people who come up to you in shops. It usually goes along the lines of “don’t worry – it gets easier. After 20 years, ha ha”. Whether you merely fantasise about punching them or whether you actually deck them is up to you, but here is some advice that is slightly more useful.
- Use drugs. Lots of drugs. Drugs are good. Some drugs work better than others though and, while every baby is different, these are the ones that most people agree are worth smearing on, and inserting into, your little angel.
- Metanium. You know how it is the day after a really good curry? That’s nothing compared to the state a baby’s bum can get into, and the poor sod didn’t even have the pleasure of a nice hot curry first. The better-known cream, Sudocream is OK for minor instances but when those cheeks look like they are about to burst into flames, a thin smear of Metanium will work wonders, especially overnight. I’ve seen bums that have been about to blister returned virtually to normal overnight with this stuff – it’s that good.
- Medised. Everyone knows Calpol; it’s nice, safe paracetamol-based strawberry yumminess. Medised is like Calpol, in that it’s got the same amount of paracetamol in it, but it’s also got an antihistamine in it to, er… “help clear the nose”. Yes, it’s to help clear the nose. Honest. It’s just that, well, the type of antihistamine they use is not a non-drowsy one. Ooh, better stick a warning on the box not to drive or operate machinery – nudge nudge. It’s not intended to cause drowsiness, it’s just a side-effect. Wink wink. Yeah. That’s why the last 3 letters of the name are the first three of “sedate”. Ooh, did I mention the “S” word? Nah, it’s not written anywhere on the box so it can’t do that, can it? But I’ll just say that for minor fevers and colds, it can provide a pretty good night’s sleep for everyone concerned. It’s not so good in the day though, when it’ll just get him stoned. While it’s quite funny to see him staggering around the place, it’s not the right one to use and you will feel guilty for laughing.
- Fenpaed. Once they are old enough to have ibruprofen, this stuff will tame fevers that Calpol can’t touch and it’s good for teething pain. It’s also got a stupid name; what more do you want?
- Eurax. He’s got chicken pox? Smear this on the spots or you won’t get any sleep. Poor Wibs couldn’t lay down for 2 nights because his spots were driving him mad. If it hadn’t been Easter or if the bastard emergency chemist had actually been open, we could have got some, lathered him up and got more than 2 hours sleep. On the 3rd day, when we did eventually find some and goop him up before bed, he slept like, well, a baby. Forget Camomile lotion or baths in baking soda; they just made things worse for us.
- Buy a PVR. It’s the only way you’ll get to see a whole TV program for the next 6 months or so. Well, maybe the news headlines or a Tom and Jerry cartoon, but anything longer will be punctuated with at least one nappy change, feed or rocking session. And even after they grow up enough to sleep for more than 10 minutes at a time, you will occasionally have to dash out at a crucial point in a show. In short, get used to watching films in 10 minute chunks. Don’t rent DVDs because you’ll never get to the end of one by the time it has to go back.
- Take up smoking. Or start some other addiction; crack cocaine or chocolate maybe? – whatever it is, it’ll be something that you can say to yourself “I might be getting up at 3.30am but at least I can have a smoke/pipe/creme egg afterwards.” Personally, I smoked and found it did genuinely help to have a proper addiction that I could look forward to feeding at any hour of the day or night.
- Before your little bundle of noise is born, take the time to cook up several thousand portions of spag bol, shepherds pie, lasagne and bung them in the freezer. Unless you are really into beans on toast, you’ll want some other things you can cook in the 5 minutes you get to yourself every day.
- Don’t listen to advice from your parents. It’s been years since you were a baby and they will have forgotten what it was like. Things have changed since then anyway, and modern medicines tend to work better than the bizarre dark age semi-faith-based remedies they’ll come up with. “That’s a good idea, we’ll try it next time” is a good phrase to use when your mum suggests an ice bath with a mercury enema to balance his humours.
- Wrap the little bugger up. Try to imagine it from his point of view. There he was, quietly jostling around in the nice warm dark confines of the womb when *squelch* – everything is now really bright, noisy, cold and where the hell have the walls gone? You can make things a bit more womb-like and comforting by strapping the arms in with a blanket. Actually, I’m sometimes tempted to see if it still works on older kids; for example 2-year olds who misbehave. Yes, I’m talking about you, Wibbles.
- The following things are normal:
- Brightly coloured poo, ranging from black to green to yellow. Make sure it’s the right colour though. For example, having green poo when it’s supposed to be yellow means they aren’t getting enough fatty milk or if it’s pale yellow when it’s supposed to be mustard yellow it could indicate jaundice. You think worrying about the colour of poo is a bit odd? Welcome to the world of parenting.
- Constant illness, sometimes with colds actually overlapping each other so there isn’t even a gap between them. He’ll then pass them on to you.
- Urine fountains as soon as the nappy is removed. You know how it is – the cold air hits and you just have to go. Accept that you will be pissed on every now and again.
- Spots everywhere and strange rashes. Get them checked out if they last more than a few days.
- Hilarious farting noises. I suggest recording them and when he’s a teenager you can use the threat of playing it to his mates/girlfriend as useful leverage.
- Minor hallucinations from lack of sleep. When I’ve only had 10 minutes sleep in a night I tend to hallucinate pornalised versions of words on signs, adverts etc., .e.g. “Eddie Stobart Whorage” or “Tescos Value Aluminium Fart”. Enjoy them. They provide some light relief from reality.
I think that’s about it. Good luck.