Instructions? What Instructions?

Seven months into her pregnancy, my daughter and her husband knew everything they needed to know about being pregnant. They realized, however, that they did not know anything about what to do with the actual newborn baby. So they did what any self-respecting parent-to-be in 2016 would do… they went to the internet and ordered a bunch of books.

Bringing a baby into the world is the scariest thing two people will ever do. You are responsible for another life. What if you make a mistake? It is so natural for new parents to want to know as much as possible.

The world has changed since the days of the elder woman passing on their knowledge to the younger. Now, with the transient nature of our western culture, the grandmother is often not available. When she is, it seems that her advice might be considered outdated. A common theme that I hear from other grandmothers and would-be grandmothers is how much things have changed since we had babies. Everything from feeding to sleeping arrangements to supervision seems different. If you were a child before 1978 (when car seat laws began to take effect) I bet you’ve had the conversation about how you rode in the back of the station wagon or slept in the window well behind the back seat on a long car trip!

My mother used Dr. Benjamin Spock’s book as her baby care bible. Dr. Spock was a pediatrician and author whose word on parenting was the final word. When I raised my children, Dr. T. Berry Brazelton was the go-to expert, though there must have been others. The internet? Hah!

Now there are so many books available with an equal number of opinions and judgments, what’s a new mother supposed to do?

Relax. That’s the advice my grandmother gave me in the middle of the night about a month after my above-mentioned, now pregnant daughter was born. It was one of those pace-the-floor nights where she would not or could not settle down. In my sleep deprived, near hysterical state, Grandma told me that this, meaning caring for a newborn, was the easiest it got when it came to raising children.

That’s right. The easiest time. In other words, babies are easy as compared to toddlers, to elementary-age school kids, to that tween age, to TEENS!  The bigger they are, the more challenging it gets.

Seriously. Don’t panic.

Look! Adults!

Skeptical during the first hearing of this strange advice, I believe her now, having successfully raised two children to adulthood; and by successfully, I mean they are alive, mostly well-adjusted, self-sufficient adults who survived all the mistakes that their dad and I made.

Keeping in mind that babies do not come with instructions, if the books quell your anxiety, read them. They can guide you through the rough patches when you think everyone else’s child is perfect and yours is the only one that never sleeps. I can’t deny it’s also fun to know when babies sprout teeth, when they start to walk, and when all those other amazing milestones you wait and wait for happen. But I posit that the following is all you need to know about caring for a newborn.

Keep them safe and warm with full bellies and dry bottoms, and love them with all your heart.


18 thoughts on “Instructions? What Instructions?

  1. I don’t have kids but I enjoyed reading this anyway — bonus! Thinking of all the times I had to sit where the gear shift was on our Mustang (bad idea, Dad) because five kids don’t fit in sports cars. Thanks for posting.


  2. I remember feeling so scared that first night on our own with our newborn. It seemed strange that the hospital sent us home without any “training.” After knowing what to expect for every month of my pregnancy, I didn’t really know what to expect after that. Your advice at the end is perfect.


  3. How exciting for your daughter to be preparing for a new arrival! I imagine I would be doing the exact same thing, though, if I were ever in that position. Wonderfully said. I can’t imagine dealing with teens but they sound much worse than babies. Hehe


  4. Changing diapers was a breeze compared to teaching a teen to drive or giving car keys for the evening! I will say I felt vvery ill equipped and unprepared and I did buy several of those books!


  5. Lol! Not one book I read mentioned anything at all about premature babies, so I was completely in the dark about my child, and so was my mother, and my grandmother! But it was indeed the easiest time.


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