So, I’ve heard the one about baby’s not coming with a manual. For the most part, I dismissed this – how hard can it be? Keep the baby warm, dry and fed, and we should be good to go. It turns out that there were a few other that would have been helpful to know…
Their hands may be cold (or, no, your child is not freezing) – our daughter always seemed to have cold hands when she first came home, and I was constantly worried that the poor thing was freezing. It turns out that newborns just have poorer circulation in their extremities. No need tobthrow on extra layers (which could potentially overheat the baby).
Their little bodies feel like furnaces (or, no, your child is not burning up) – paradoxically, while my little girl’s hands were cold, it felt like her body was throwing heat. A baby’s temperature is somewhere between 34.7 and 37.2 degrees Celcius using the auxiliary method (i.e., armpit). Even though she felt hot to me, baby’s temperature was always within the proper range.
They might sneeze at first (or, no, your child did not pick up a cold during labour) – I was surprised at how much our newborn daughter sneezed! At first, I worried that this might also be a sign that she was sick, but the nurse assured us that our baby girl was simply clearing the amniotic fluid from her sinuses.
They breathe faster than we do (or, no, your child is not hyperventilating) – it seemed that our baby girl was breathing so quickly. Was she sick, was she too hot? Not to worry, babies breathe much faster than adults (40 times per minute or so). The other surprise was that our baby’s breathing would slow when she was sleeping, and would sometimes be irregular – all normal. We eventually gave up on hovering over the bassinet to ensure that baby was okay.
They are more resilient than I thought (but continue to handle with care) – I had never handled such a new baby. At first, I coddled her like a delicate china teacup, and I obsessed over ensuring that her fingers weren’t caught when we were dressing her. Within a few days, I had the football hold down, and was handling her much more confidently.
My daughter continues to teach me every day. Now that she is around three months old, more and more of her personality is coming out. I am sure there will be a number of other surprises along the way, and hopefully I will capture a few of them here.