Monday, April 4, 2011

Newborns: Because you've sinned.

I remember that, shortly after bringing Bee home, I called my mother and accused her through choking tears, "How come you never told me it was this hard!? They should have a commune for new moms to go to. A place where they bring you food and take care of all the laundry so you can deal with the baby." That was the first of four newborns I would "deal with." I don't think any are as earth shattering as the first, but I imagine combat veterans feel the same way about their first fire fight.

There is no pain as exquisite as the pain of sleep deprivation coupled with the task of caring for the vital needs of another human (or two, or three. . .). New parents are assigned tasks as grave as keeping a child breathing throughout the night, wrapped in a tight swaddle or a sleep-sack and making sure the baby never, ever sleeps on his belly, unless your mother comes to town and says, "We always put you to sleep on top of a down pillow, in an empty dresser drawer, on your stomach---you slept wonderfully." At which point she'll put the baby to rest unswaddled and in the dangerous belly-down position and you will begin to slowly hyperventilate waiting for her to finish her magazine and go to bed so that you can flip junior back over and retain your license to parent.

We had a sorority advisor in college who always marveled at the fact that we require driver's licenses, but not parenting ones. After taking a largely useless pre-natal class about pregnancy and childbirth where I learned that I could breathe through pain and pain would stop a moment to laugh and point---I agree. There was some useful information in our booklet about actual care for the baby ex utero. While I was happy to have cord stump care information at hand for the mere days that it was relevant, I felt a bit light in the education for the care of new babies. Where was the information about whether I should wake a newborn to eat if she was on hour four of sleep and I hadn't closed my eyes in nearly 12 hours? How about a lesson in what to do if you forgot to sterilize the baby bottle and you think the baby ate dog hair?

The truth is that God designed the first few months (sometimes called the fourth trimester, which someone coined and I'm not fussed enough to Google it) as a get-purged-of-sin program for the previously debauched. As a non parent you probably stayed out drinking and, until it became unfashionable in addition to being life-threatening, smoking. You might have had a few dalliances out-of-wedlock. You might or might not have forgotten to return your roommate's favorite shoes when you went home for good after graduating from college. You're a bad person and ever since Eve decided to skip her Weight Watcher's meeting in favor of a little snack in the garden, God's been taking it out on us with our children.

Sure, the crueler bits of pregnancy have always been God's revenge on Eve and her female progeny for cavorting with a serpent and eating the Fruit of What Did Daddy Tell You? No Apples!* If the newborn phase is the fourth trimester, He saved His most fearsome retribution for last. Or don't you think having only Cops reruns on while feeding your newborn at o' dark thirty is unnecessarily cruel?

So, let's review. You're a nasty bag of sin and God's making sure you know it.
  • Newborns sleep all day long. So do cockroaches. And hell's demons. Noticing a trend?
  • Colic is the number one reason for divorce and daytime drunkenness.
  • They have yet to invent a diaper that can contain newborn stool. This is because they don't test the diapers using butterscotch pudding.
  • Everyone will touch your baby with their dirty, nose-picking fingers. Your baby, in turn, will wait until 3 am to projectile vomit and spike a fever of one million point four. It will be a Saturday evening. Your new bestie will be the cracked-up guy bleeding from the groin in the ER while your baby vomits over your shoulder into the diaper bag.
  • The reason a new mom will swing from rages of misdirected anger at her breast pump to bouts of racking sobs over her baby scrapbook is because her soul is ripping in two because she committed the sin of eating unpasteurized cheese and drinking a cup of caffeinated coffee while pregnant. Hormones are God's retribution.
  • God made you so beautiful that a man wanted to procreate with you, or he made you so financially stable that you could adopt a baby. Caring for that baby will make you ugly and broke. God loves a good joke.
  • Remember being the flat-chested girl in high school? Go ahead, gloat over those milk-engorged beauties while you can. God says, "Psych!" 
  • And if you're the large breasted type who had been gloating all her life, call me when they hit your upper thighs after baby's done nursing.
  • Whatever you find that works to make your new baby happy and quiet, some other mother/doctor/talk radio guest will tell you is wrong and dangerous and it will be all your fault if your kid never goes to college/makes friends/learns to whistle. These people are only here to help.
Remember, newborns need constant care and attention. If that fails call an exorcist.

*Of course, Adam and Eve where like, what, twelve when all this went down? It's likely they were always going to die and have painful childbirth and crappy jobs right out of college and high car insurance premiums for a bit until they proved they wouldn't wreck any cars. But instead of eating from the Tree of Life, they picked the Tree of Knowledge and it's been Cops reruns ever since. God's not punishing us, maybe we just have the unfortunate knowledge that we have unlimited capacity for being jackhats.

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