I recently joined a parenting group on Facebook called Pink and Blue Baby. I took a quick look through some of the threads in the group and right away got a feel for what the purpose of the board was – to be a resource for first time parents.
What gave it away? Questions such as; At what age is it okay to take my baby out for the first time? Will my baby ever sleep? When can I give my baby “real” food? All the questions we sorted through just over 6 years ago with our first born son, aptly referred to as Linus on my blog (for the fact he carries a blankie and constantly has his fingers in his mouth). But upon further review of the threads I noticed this board is more than that. It is also serving the purpose of helping parents with their current questions, such as; Looking for play-dates, recommendations for thank you notes, loot bag suggestions, and much, much more.
I couldn’t help but think about how much the times have changed since we had our first baby, Linus, who will only be 7-years-old in just over a month. When he was a baby what did we know? As soon-to-be first time parents, we took advantage of whatever opportunity we had to learn how these things called “babies” worked.
The first class I remember us taking was at the hospital we were giving birth at, North York General Hospital, and if I recall correctly, it was called “When Baby Comes” and looking back now, it was pretty scary. It was taught by a registered nurse and was very descriptive and technical. After Linus came – I was fortunate to be off on parental leave from my job for 9 months, – my wife and I tried to figure out what to do with a child who slept, whenever, ate a lot and pooped a lot. It was hands-on learning.
My wife found a registered nurse in the area who taught classes to a group of local moms, and these moms formed the baby group that our son grew up with. All the kids were around the same age (one born mere minutes after our son at the same hospital) and it was this group that served as our resource for the first year, to year and a half of Linus’ life. Food, fitness, health, growth spurts, etc were all discussed in the class, and then with these moms. The moms, became the dads and the dads would all get together, head out for wings and beer and talk about our kids. It was great. With this group came the siblings for most of the parents and with that the purpose of the group became clear. Play-dates, birthday parties, all kinds of questions, and much more were discussed through this group in person and via email.
While my wife was increasing her knowledge on the baby front, I was using my parental leave to work on my MBA. I found the evenings worked great because I wanted to be around to help out as much as possible. I would take Linus for long walks each day – he would score me free shwag all over the place, especially at the local Starbucks. I did as many diaper changes as necessary; I loved feeding him and reading books to him. It was trial by error on my side and a lot of research on my wife’s side. Why don’t these kids comes with instruction manuals?!?
Looking back, how did we ever get through baby #1 without the benefit of a cool group like this one I just joined?!? Well to be honest, it was all my wife. She read the baby books, she surfed the net looking for resources, and with her mother’s intuition she did all the rest. She got Linus on a schedule after reading that babies need structure. She arranged for cloth diapers after reading that it helps kids potty train sooner, and she made his food instead of buying it because with her science background and as a budding nutritionist she knew the added chemicals were not good for him. She sought out and then checked out kids’ furniture. She also found a great resource online which detailed Linus’ progression and explained what we could expect from them at that age on a week by week basis.
After putting in all this work, child #2, Stewie (named on my blog after the baby from Family Guy because we thought he was trying to kill us by getting up every 2-3 hours for the first 10 months of his life, without fail) was a breeze. Armed with plenty of resources and almost two years practical hands on experience we were ready for anything.
Linus, you see, was a textbook baby. We knew this by reading the textbooks. So was Stewie, and so far our third (and last) child, Berry fits that mold too. These kids follow the models laid out in the text, so the more we read, the easier it was to predict their next growth spurt, or when their teeth were set to come it. It made life much easier for us.
One think I noticed as we both headed back to work was that we now had a family of 6 (3 kids and a nanny) and running the household was that much more challenging. With work, schedules, school, programs, and meal planning and preparation there was no time for anything else outside of being a parent. Where was the time for us?
Fear not new parents, it gets better… (No, really it doesn’t). It cannot get better than being surrounded by children and the more kids, the more love, the more poop, the more shmootz, and the less sleep. If it’s not one kid getting up in the middle of the night, it’s one of the others.
Needless to say parents; no matter if you’re a first time parent or a 4th time parent, it’s all the same. Our kids will continue to grow and we will always have parenting questions. We will worry about them and in doing so forget about you. It’s okay, it’s natural and we all do it. Just keep asking those questions on this message board and when you get more experienced, you too will share your thoughts and observations about what it was like for you, as I have done tonight too, and do with regularity on my blog.
If you want to read more, you can find this urban daddy at www.urbandaddy.wordpress.com.