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Wake Up Call Through the Baby Monitor By John G. warren


don’t know why I was caught off guard when I was launched into parenthood. I don’t see how anything could’ve possibly surprised me with the deluge of stories and advice given from well wishers who always said the same thing: “Enjoy them now, for before you know it they’ll be gone, and you’ll be all alone.”

In a nine-month period my wife Cheri and I must’ve heard that a thousand times. I guess walking in a restaurant with my waddling wife who was obviously pregnant stirred the memories of the graying couples who always seemed to be seated adjacent to us. We usually got an earful of child-rearing stories before we placed our drink order. Now that our kids have turned our hair gray, I can vividly recall some things that blind-sided us. If I had to make a Top 10 List of Parenting Surprises, it would be as follows:

(10) If Mamma ain’t happy, nobody’s happy.

With gestational diabetes during pregnancy, my wife Cheri was put on a strict diet and she had to be very careful what she ate. The days of coming in, parking my feet on the coffee table and taking down a bag of White Castles were over. We pretty much ate what she said we ate. During her last term, my wife longed for the day she could eat Mexican food. It was her main craving. We hit a drive thru upon leaving the hospital, and she was in burrito paradise. I don’t remember how many burritos she ate, but we had a rude awakening when our new baby Mary woke up loaded with gas, the result of Cheri’s breastfeeding while consuming burritos. Little Mary puttered all night long and into the next day. We were so happy to hear that the gas would eventually stop. Having a baby spewing gas really takes the joy out of the new swaddling experience. (9) Things are going to get sticky. My current cordless phone was not designed to be used hands free although it sticks to my ear just fine and will stay there unless I violently shake my head. (8) Time Management has a new definition. I thought I could re-do my deck one weekend while baby happily watched. Of course I spent more time wrestling the pneumatic nail gun away from her than I did displaying my carpentry skills. To this day that deck is still missing two planks. (7) Stockpile supplies. When baby is blazing with fever at 3 am, nothing’s worse than running out of Infant Tylenol. Also, having the battery-powered swing die when you were just starting to nap is very aggravating. Always have spare batteries on hand for the new gadgetry coming into your life.

(5) Say goodbye to fancy restaurants. Get used to looking at the right side of the menu first. For us, if we didn’t see the bowling alley style disposable napkin holder it was probably time to buckle in baby and leave. (4) Opposites do not attract. My single buddy would call and say, “Come on over, the game starts in 10 minutes!” Suddenly I realized that if I was watching the game it was going to be at home, glancing over my shoulder while changing diapers, feeding the baby or trying to tackle an enormous amount of laundry. (3) The Baby Isn’t Going To Break. Other than the trick of keeping the head propped up in the first few weeks, it wasn’t until I had numerous kids that I realized the baby was not going to self-destruct in some spontaneous combustive phenomenon. With our first child, when we dropped the pacifier we would completely boil and sterilize it. With our second we kind of wiped it off on our pants. Now the pacifier can completely roll down the driveway and we’ll grab it and be good to go. I wish I would’ve realized how resilient those little monsters could be years ago. (2) Say farewell to a good night’s sleep. I’m not sure why it didn’t click when the nurse kept talking about two-hour feedings when teaching us to make a bottle. If you think you’re going to snooze while mamma gets up to feed the baby you’ll get elbowed like I did. I still have bruises on my lower back and ribs. And the number one wake-up call: (1) The baby is very expensive. I wasn’t prepared to face the $100 aisle at the supermarket. This of course is the aisle of diapers, formula, and those tiny jars of baby food that have more colors than an artist’s palette. Not to mention the wipes, baby-wash, and diaper rash cream. Why we called it the $100 aisle goes without saying. I guess every parent has little tidbits of information they’ve gained in child-rearing hindsight, but those are some things I wish I would’ve known before we rolled Mommy and baby out to the car that first day. Even though my kids are bigger now, I am still stuck in that newborn mode. My boss kicked me awake during a staff meeting recently, noting that I was completely asleep, sitting up in the chair with my left arm resting as if holding something. Only a true parent knows some of the most effective rest ever gained is the peaceful 20 minutes in the rocker while baby slurps down that overnight bottle. John Warren lives in Louisville with his wife Cheri and their daughters Mary (11), Anna (8), and Emily (5). He is a frequent contributor to Today’s Family magazine.

(6) Your image at intersections is gone.

Almost overnight I went from peering through tinted windows in a cool, shiny, two-seater truck, to a mini-van with sun blocking shades sporting a bright red picture of Elmo. There’s nothing sexier than a balding man sitting in a car with a “Baby On Board” sign. 14 June/July 2012 444 /todaysfamily 444 @todaysfamilynow

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