Monday, June 14, 2010

Baby Care

While the rest of your were carbo-loading, tapering, racing or ice bathing on Saturday, Chris and I were attending a class called Baby Care.

I can feel the jealousy oozing in through my computer.

This was it. The last class that would certify us as officially prepared to be parents. Who are we kidding. I mean, who is ever prepared for parenthood? And just when you feel prepared you talk to someone who is a parent and they say to you:


It’s a riveting piece of advice that everyone feels compelled to tell you like you’ve never heard (or thought) it before. Consider it heard. Loud and clear. Again and again.

Do I also look great? Am I also almost there?

(and yes, there is a connection between weeks in pregnancy and high sass-o-meter readings)

Baby care was taught by a labor and delivery nurse whom I just could not take seriously. She used the word like, like, about something like 100 times in like every sentence. And, she had a freakish obsession with coffee that scared even me. But she had years of experience that she shared with us about all things baby.

Every adult class starts with a round of introductions. For this one, we had to tell one interesting fact about ourselves. Our fact was that before class we were at swim team practice, the same team where we met about 10 years ago.


We got a lot of blank stares and silence from the instructor. I am not sure why. But I will just say that the guy at the end of the table - his interesting fact was "I drive a Chevy."


Class finally starts. Let’s start talking about baby baths. Who knew that getting something clean could be so…hard? Can it be any more difficult than bathing my small dog? You get out a bacon bone. You put Boss in the laundry room basin. You turn on the water. You pour water over his head at which point he sits defeated with floppy wet ears and tail between his legs. You dry him off. You give him the bacon bone. I guess babies don’t do that. They are squiggly at best and they have all kinds of bathing needs. No baths for two weeks after birth, no soap, no baby powder, no baby oil, no leaving them unattended for even a split second, no fragrances, no lotions.

Without all of that stuff how can I call this kid clean?

The nurse kept assuring us that babies don’t get dirty (how can something that poops itself multiple times a day not get dirty) and that you can get clean with just water and a washcloth (please do NOT tell my husband that, it’s bad enough when the water runs for 2 minutes and I have to ask…did you really use soap, really?).

We talked a lot about feeding. Breastfeed up to 6 months, 12 months is better. The pros and cons of formula vs breast-feeding became clear. Boobs are cheap. Formula is not. Boobs are convenient. Formula is not. Breast-fed babies tend to eat what they need. Formula-fed babies tend to overeat because sucking on a bottle is so much easier than a breast. That last statement sounded totally sexual until you realize that the post-partum breast is utilitarian. It is not sexy. True, not everyone has the luxury of breast-feeding but even if you can do it a little, she suggested a little is better than nothing.

Did we not cover this in breastfeeding class? I’m bored. I look over to my husband, he is posting pictures to Facebook of our Mini-Baby for learning infant CPR. I’m twiddling my thumbs, he is Facebooking. Why do I sense we’re going to get more than a few notes sent home from teacher about Max not paying attention in class?

More about feeding! Expect 10 to 12 feedings a day. That is feeding every 2 hours or so and each feeding can last 5 to 45 minutes. I’ll never leave the house. I’ll never even have time to feed myself! And you should keep track of those feedings because the doctor will ask you about them. I’ve got to keep charts on this kid? More math? It’s bad enough adding up all those swim workouts each week – and my athletes know how bad I can be at that! But here’s a helpful hint, there is an iPhone app called Baby Connect where you can keep track of all feedings and diaperings.

For $4.99, it’s worth it.

We must have spent an hour talking about how to dress the baby. Herein lies my problem with taking classes: other people. You would think that making the baby requires a small degree of common sense. Not so. I have never heard so many ridiculous questions about how to dress a baby. Is it really that hard? If it’s hot out, they wear less. Cold out, wear more. Enter the woman to my left who keeps probing the instructor for a specific temperature where you would make the cut off for long sleeves vs. short sleeves. OH FOR CRYING OUT LOUD IT IS A BABY! Considering you can change them up to 18 times a day, they’ll spend half the time naked. In between, just wrap them in a blanket or something.

Next we talked about rectal thermometers. Yet another brilliant question:

How far so you push the thermometer in.

Well, duh, until it comes out of the baby’s mouth. Just be sure to first lubricate it.

Then we heard a lot of rules and facts. Unless your baby has a diaper rash, no ointment. No unnecessary visitors in the first few weeks. No pacifiers past 4 months unless you want a lifetime of bad teeth. No blankets in the crib! No bumpers, no stuffed animals. No Motrin before 6 months. No Bundle Me on the car seat, no hanging toys on the carseat. Did you know if I was hit while driving 30 mph, my unbelted 10 pound chihuahua would hit you with 300 pounds of force and do you have any idea what that can do to a baby!? ONLY PUT THEM TO SLEEP ON THEIR BACK! No cords from blinds. No magnets, children like to eat magnets! Beware of drains and pools. Gate your stairs. Lock up your cleaning supplies. Do not leave your house until week 3. Only controlled environments until week 6.

Wait, am I a parent or a prisoner?

Don’t answer that.

The discussion on car seats was like a whole new journey into why did you just ask that.

Bottom line: back seat, rear facing until they are up to 2 years old.

But what if I disable my front air bag, can I put them in the front seat?

What do you not understand about back seat rear facing?

I know, I’m going to put them in the backseat but what if I disabled the air bag, could I put them in the front seat?


(Chris is now texting me this is why I hated school, other people’s dumb questions)

Time to make out with the Mini-Baby Infant CPR Mannequin. Imagine a baby blow up doll with an opening in its mouth so air can pass through.

(Chris posts a picture to Facebook that says, this is what happens when you get a blow up doll pregnant)

2 breaths, 30 compressions, 2 breaths, 30 compressions.

Then, what to do when the baby is choking.

Excuse me, how hard should you hit the baby between their shoulder blades?

Hard enough to knock their head off? WHO KNOWS! As hard as you need to hit until the object flies out. How can the instructor quantify that? No wonder she drinks so much coffee. She probably has to keep her mouth full to prevent her from blurting out I’ll show you how hard and then wacking the question asker in the back.

Diapering! We got to practice. Actually, I made Chris practice. First test – identify the two characters on the diaper. He pauses for a moment, then pulls this out:

That is the Snuffleupagus and the other one is Big Bird.

SCORE! Wait….Chris was raised by wolves in a cold barn with no television (true, he’ll tell you that himself). How did he know that? Now, diaper the kid.

After trying to steal the baby doll next to us because it had Asian eyes, Chris reluctantly prepares to diaper our blue-eyed Caucasian baby (this cannot be our baby) doll. First, he peels off the old diaper.

Looks like our son has not been circumsized.

We already signed the waiver. Now put the clean diaper on him.

He gets it correct. All right! Now, get ready to repeat that up to 18 times a day!

Cord care. All you need to know is that it is going to fall off and you won’t be able to find it when it does. And if you have a dog, they will probably be found playing with it.


Other things I didn’t know – put the car seat in the center seat, when it comes to Chicco vs. Graco – the Chicco wins for ease of strap adjustment and fit, you’ll be using a carseat until your child’s 8th birthday, the nurse will not help you put the baby into the car seat at the hospital due to liability, and you have to have the baby in the carseat before you leave due to liability, you also will take a ride in a wheelchair with that carseat as you leave the hospital due to liability.

The class ended with an informative video about why babies cry, fuss, why they are the way they are. It was based on the book The Happiest Baby on the Block. I’m not sure if I buy it all – that will be left to when the baby arrives and I try it – but the theory is that when babies are born they are still fetuses. They only get born because they start getting too big to be in womb so much of their development continues outside the womb. The first 3 months are therefore the fourth trimester. During this time, the baby needs to be treated like a fetus; swaddled to mimic the tight space in womb, jiggled a little to mimic the movements it felt during pregnancy, shushed with white noise just like they heard in the womb (ie, hair dryer, vacuum, your shushing) and put on their side (just like when they were in the womb too).

All of a sudden, I get worried.

I’m always on the move, jiggling him – do you think Max has gotten used to that?

Probably. Which means he’ll probably never sit still or pay attention in class or get the best grades. He’ll probably be dreaming of recess during math class and squiggle when he gets a bath. But … that’s ok. Because I’m thinking that common sense and a pair of fast legs will take him much further in life.

We finished the class feeling like we learned a few things we didn’t already know but a lot more confident in what we do already know. What we know is that we’ll figure it out. We don’t need to read 1,000 books, call the pediatrician every day, second guess ourselves, baby proof the house/yard/world until it is 101 percent safe. Like most things in life, we don’t need to be totally prepared. We just need to have the common sense and intuition to figure things out.


X-Country2 said...

I LOVED this post! It totally saved the $75 and 8 hours of my life from having to take the class myself. :o)

MtngirlinCali said...

Wish I'd read your post BEFORE I took out baby care class. :) Similarly came and we still knew nothing and totally winged it for the first month! Biggest pointer is don't lock yourself in the nursery with the rocker to feed all the time, because it becomes a prison. Bring your Boppy or Breastfriend down to the living room and watch some TV -- you could have the laziest nurser on the planet like me and be in for hour-long feeds!

And Happiest Baby on the Block? Best swaddling technique out there, and I do think it works...but we don't have a hysterical, inconsolable baby, so we rarely have to string more than two of the S's together at a time. I recommend renting the DVD at the library and skipping the book. I found it redundant! My friends have all recommended The Baby Whisperer, though....just wanted to throw that out there in case it wasn't on your list yet. ;)

Love the posts. Sorry to be a complete stranger and to keep butting in, but it's fun to read about others going through similar experiences!

Running and living said...

OMG, and I thought the birthing class were bad! Good job getting through that one!

Flatman said...

Hey. Did you know that your life will change?

Kim said...

Oh my gosh.. so funny. I LOVE the word --- sass-o--meter.. um.. need to ask you, can I please please please steal that!! You're life will change I am sure.. but everyone I talk to says it is the hardest, most wonderful change that has ever happened, and their heart, who they thought COULDN"T actually love any more, it actually does. You're going to love it! You're almost there ELF!

Jennifer Harrison said...

It is like you are getting a PhD in babies this year! Crap, we did not have to take that "baby care" class and I am so glad! I barely took the L&D class...or breast class or whatever. I just winged having the twins. And, you know, you just figure it out - your maternal instincts click into place and you just do it. you will be the same!

It is ALMOST JULY...yes!

Katie said...

This is really great - your summaries are everything a parent needs from all those stupid classes, and in a much shorter and more entertaining way. You should turn them into a book and make some profit. :)

As for all the shushing/jiggling/etc - I don't know if I buy all the rationale behind it, but I found that all those methods did in fact work. Except he makes jiggling out to be super complicated. It's not. We just walked our girl in a carrier and it worked like a charm. Although after the 6th walk/nap of the day, I was usually thinking, "Next time, forget working out through the pregnancy. I am going to lie flat on my back the whole 9 mos so the baby isn't so used to jiggling as much as this one is. Then I won't have to work this hard to make her feel like she's back in the womb."