There are a number of things that new parents are not told, and I'm beginning to wonder why. Hudson, don't let yourself think for a moment that I feel anything but the deepest, most profound, earth-shaking love for you...but right this moment, I kind of want to put you in a Rubbermaid storage container and leave you in a corner for a few hours so I can get some goddamned sleep. Much like how no one can really describe the pain of labor, I don't think anyone could have accurately described this terrible blend of love, frustration, guilt for feeling frustrated, and general exhaustion before I experienced it myself. Sleep deprivation is just the tip of the iceberg.
1. Acne that would put the worst of prom photos to shame. Your sweet little face has been kind of gross since roughly three months of age. I mean, come on...aren't babies supposed to have this soft, beautiful, porcelain skin? Shouldn't I just want to kiss and snuggle your adorable face without fear of popping one of your zits? It's gross, and baby photographers definitely do a lot of editing.
2. Violent, borderline sociopathic kicking and punching. So far, you haven't caused any real damage, but I feel like it's just a matter of time. When falling asleep, you've taken to basically attacking whichever parent is trying to lovingly snuggle you down. When you're playing, the punching has recently started to blend with open-palm slapping, which I guess is an improvement...?
3. Sudden jackknife-style body stretches that nearly fling you off my lap. Or the couch. Or out of your high chair. Or off the bed. I don't know why doctors don't scream this at new parents every chance they get, so here I go: "Your child will regularly appear to attempt suicide. He or she will do so with voracity, enthusiasm, and a shameless disregard for your desire not to scream and panic every time."
4. "Helping" with your chubby, not-yet-well-coordinated little hands in such a fashion as to threaten to shove a bottle up your nose, rice cereal into your eye sockets, or any number of toys into any other orifice you can get near. Babies in movies and on TV reach hesitantly for a toy, then gently grasp it in their chubby, cute little fingers while cracking a satisfied smile. In reality, you grab frantically for quite literally anything that you think you might possibly be able to grab. This results in a number of messes, especially while we're attempting to get solid food into you, but especially when you decide to grab something you really shouldn't have, and WE make a mess trying to stop you.
5. Nipple attack. Okay, given that I'm not breastfeeding, one might think that this is a moot point, but you have actually threatened more damage to your Dad's nips than mine, and that's not to say you haven't been rough as hell on me. You seem to take genuine pleasure in the act of grabbing and twisting at, shall we say, the most protuberant part of the chest, which is certainly your favorite thing to fall asleep on, but there is no way of stopping you. It's like your hands are furious little magnets.
6. Teething: A Crappy Thing That Lasts Forever. According to a number of medical professionals, you have been "teething" for upwards of six months now. Yes, there are two little chompers in there now, but those made their appearance when you were seven months old, and we've been waiting for teeth to pop out "any day now!" since you were just about two months old. The drooling is non-stop, your discomfort is persistent, and while it's still adorable when you try to nom on my fingers, sooner rather than later it is going to get messy.
7. Clothing labels are complete and utter fantasy constructed by "the man" to trick you into feeling weirdly bad about your baby either being too skinny or too fat. Right now, you are wearing clothes meant (according to the labels) for a three month old AND for a nine month old. A few days ago, you even wore something intended for an eighteen month old. I just assumed that having a bunch of clothes in different sizes (according to the labels) would mean that we had enough clothes to get you through those ages. Not only did you outgrow most everything almost instantly, but...
8. No one can accurately describe how much stuff comes out of a baby's body. Sometimes it's poo. Sometimes it's pee. Sometimes it's some icky combination of half-digested food and not-digested formula. Sometimes it's a charming melange of all of the above. I was not prepared for the volume and frequency of what your little system can produce. Still...
9. I more or less completely accept all of it. Yeah, I have pants that might have some coffee spilled on them...or possibly pee...and I still wear them to school. Our kitchen floor would probably send the CDC into a panic, but I still just brush off spoons that fall on it and go back to eating whatever I was eating. Sometimes you pee absolutely all over me. That's just a thing that happens. Whatever.
10. I've kind of turned into one of "those people." Sometimes I tell horror stories and offer unsolicited, vaguely pushy advice. Damn it, I even make biased statements at experienced parents that somehow suggest that I am an authority based solely on the fact that I'm a parent. I don't even know when this started to happen; maybe I can blame hospital culture for instilling in me a compulsive need to over-share with anyone who sits still long enough for me to make eye contact?
Hudson, I know parenting advice is a far-flung need for you. Hell, it might even be completely moot, but this is just as much for me as for you. Apparently number eleven on this list is "You forget humongous chunks of things, bad and good, and eventually decide to do it again because by age two or so your kid is adorable AND he sleeps enough for you to stay sane." Let's hope that is true - at least the last part - and that I heed my own advice.