Things I’d Forgotten About Newborns

newborn baby sleeping

I feel as though I should add a disclaimer to the start of this post, because so many people have written to me  recently saying things along the lines of  “oh my God, I’m so worried about giving birth/having a newborn/getting pregnant now that I’ve read your posts!”

This is absolutely the opposite of what I want my posts to do. I really can’t abide scaremongering and so I’ve always tried to report on things with a relatively jolly and optimistic lean. That said, one has to get the balance right; fluffy head-in-the-clouds posts are boring to read, and they’re also not entirely truthful or realistic, most of the time.

So, writing about birth and babies is one massive tightrope act: I want to write honestly, but I also get that things can come across far worse when you start writing them down. Being covered in baby poo in the middle of a restaurant as your boobs squirt milk over a man on the next table sounds fairly horrendous, but it’s a fleeting moment your (hopefully) long and eventful life – you get over it. Throwing up an hour after you’ve had your stomach stitched together post-caesarean may sound like the worst possible thing that could ever happen, but – again – you forget these things quite quickly. They’re all just moments in time. (Some people, unfortunately, have it very rough indeed; I’m not by any means suggesting that the above applies to them. It’s hard to forgive and forget when you’ve been through something very traumatic, or you’re depressed, but luckily I haven’t and so I do try to report back on things with a touch of levity and self-deprecating humour.)

Please do remember when you read my insane ramblings that a) it’s my experience, which will not be the same as your experience and b) I enjoy writing things that make people laugh, or touch them in some way, or at the very least keep them relatively engaged. Oh, and all of this should be set against the fact that – genuinely – having babies has been the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Intense, but utterly life-changing and so unbelievably joyful. And on that note, let’s talk about all of the things I’d forgotten about newborn babies!

newborn baby

After you’ve given birth, being handed the baby is like being handed an alien. Newborns (I mean freshly newborn) look like aliens, they move like aliens (I’m thinking the ET kind of alien, just in case you need a reference point) and they sound like aliens. Also, depending on what sort of birth you’ve had and how long the baby was “cooking in the oven”, (NOT LITERALLY!), it’ll have weird skin or a strange shaped head or funny wrinkles. Like an alien. Ooh – and sometimes their eyes look like tiny jet-black alien eyes. Ted’s did. When I was off my tits on morphine I started actually believing that he was an alien life-form. Thank goodness I got off it quick!

Newborns poo and wee loads. Sometimes they do a poo and a wee when you’re still cleaning up the last poo and wee! The poo actually smells really nice, I think (is that weird?), at least breastfed poo does – like a caramel sort of smell. Is formula poo the same? New to me, though, is cleaning poo from a miniature scrotum. (That’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.) How the hell are you supposed to efficiently and thoroughly clean something that’s as wrinkled as a mini scrotum? It’s like trying to wipe peanut butter from a deflated balloon!

Newborns can poo so violently that forces its way out of the back/legs of the nappy and into all surrounding areas. If the baby is being changed, and the bottom is dangerously exposed, the poo arcs into the air like some sort of modern, vivid yellow fountain. Then it lands on you and you spend thirty minutes trying to compose a tweet about being covered in shit that will make people laugh but also not offend people. You never tweet it because, ultimately, being covered in shit is not that funny. Especially at 2am.

Newborn babies are REALLY REALLY NOISY. Sharing a room with one is worse than sharing a room with a snorer! Grunts, massive trumps that vibrate the room, continuous noises of straining and gurgling.. People wonder why you get no sleep when the newborn baby clearly sleeps loads – this is just one of the many reasons. But, see below…

People tell you to “sleep when the baby sleeps” and it makes you want to smash them over the head with the baby monitor. Because if you’ve had a baby then you know that half of the time you can’t sleep when the baby sleeps. This is because a) the noise thing mentioned above, b) often the baby will soak itself, its mattress and all of the blankets in wee and you will have to spend an hour making everything good again, by which time you’ll need a wee yourself and then the doorbell will go and then you’ll be hungry and need food and a glass of water, then another wee, then perhaps a shower because you’re covered in wee/poo/sick, c) if you sleep all day and don’t see anyone it makes you feel depressed, d) we are programmed to sleep at night and wake up in the day, there are only so many naps a person can force on themselves. Phew.

newborn baby sleeping

There is no rhyme or reason to what newborns want, and they have no routine. Hard to get used to again when you have a toddler who goes to bed at seven pm sharp, naps from 11.30am-1.30pm and has meals at roughly the same time every day. Ted the Newborn is just random! A few things are predictable though: if you need to go somewhere in a hurry then he will puke. And then need feeding again. If you are incredibly tired then he will be restless and awake through the night, and if you’ve just changed the bedsheets then he will do a poo explosion. It’s the law.

They have really sharp nails and sometimes, when they’re being particularly fussy and won’t latch on to the breast properly they’ll use them to scrape at your irritated, wet nipples. And about that “fussy” time, when they do a cry-feed-cry thing for hours on end; you’ll think to yourself that there’s no way they could possibly need a feed again, but try it. Ted has a few hours a day when nothing will make him happy – I just have to feed, wind, feed, wind and try not to lose my sanity. This is usually the time when I like to pass him over to my husband and eat a Mini Magnum and pretend I’m on a desert island.

five things that happen after giving birth

Nobody can prepare you for just how intense a feeling it is to suddenly have a baby in your arms. I say intense, because for some people it’s not immediately all roses – it’s not always love at first sight, even though it perhaps sounds terrible to say that. I think that the first few weeks can be a blur, when you just keep your head down and try to keep the baby alive and yourself sane, and then when things settle down you realise just how magnificent and all-consuming your love is for this tiny little creature.

Newborns change really quickly. They grow at a phenomenal rate, and after a few weeks you can’t even remember how small they were when they were first born. And their stomachs mature, so they settle better, and they get the knack of feeding so your boobs feel better, and suddenly they’re not an alien anymore but a smiling, gurgling baby. One that sleeps better (hopefully) and cries less (hopefully) and makes you feel more and more confident every day that you have a handle on things. That you can DO THIS! And you forget everything that went before – which seems to be the case with every child and baby stage, doesn’t it? Sometimes I think that parenthood is 90% forgetting everything that has happened previously.

Anything I’ve forgotten? Comments below!

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61 Comments

  1. Stephanie
    April 2, 2017 / 11:34 am

    That’s so funny I love it!!

  2. N
    April 2, 2017 / 11:38 am

    Hello! I’m due with my second baby in early August (eldest is turning 2 in two weeks) and I’m finding these posts very helpful! Just wondering: what new things did you buy for Ted? Particularly, did you invest in a double buggy? TIA!

    • April 2, 2017 / 6:03 pm

      I’m testing Double Buggies now!! Reviews soon xx

      • N
        April 3, 2017 / 9:22 am

        Awesome – look forward to reading them:)

      • Ellie
        April 3, 2017 / 2:28 pm

        Also wondering about the double buggy front so excited to read these!

      • Jo.C
        April 3, 2017 / 5:22 pm

        There is 2yrs 3mths between my two and I made the eldest walk from the offset, there was no way I was buying a double buggy, plus it’s better for the child to walk (and saves your back pushing two kids). X

        • Sasha
          April 3, 2017 / 5:58 pm

          But how do you get anywhere on time?! They stop for every ant on the path, lol, which is sweet but I love walking fast and getting the exercise too 🙂
          Looking forward to the reviews!

          • Claire
            April 4, 2017 / 7:00 pm

            Buggy board. Our eldest was 2 yrs 2 months when our son was born. We went straight on to a buggy board. My sister in law gave us her out and about baby jogger but our two year old wanted to walk or becon the buggy board, I used the double buggy twice!

  3. April 2, 2017 / 12:55 pm

    Oh godness yes the noise!!!! My son at 7 weeks is so noisy. He sounds like a dolphin, seagull and pig mix most of the time at night. During the day he’s actually reasonably quiet.

    My planned c section was great, about a week after you I think… I think you were really unlucky with your vomiting, I think that set you back a lot, as you said. It’s not a good time to be straining tummy murcles. Ouch!

      • April 3, 2017 / 8:10 am

        It’s like trying to wipe peanut butter from a deflated balloon! – SO TRUE!!! Changing a baby boy nappy has been educational !

        Also I’ve been surprised at how many nappies there have been. I’d forgotten the agony of night time nappies…. x

  4. Virginia Villalobos
    April 2, 2017 / 1:07 pm

    Lovely and well-written post and so enjoyed the photos of Baby Ted.

  5. Laura Wilson-North
    April 2, 2017 / 1:43 pm

    Brilliant post, and surprisingly reassuring. Thanks, as always! X

  6. Eva
    April 2, 2017 / 1:53 pm

    I don’t think your posts scare me at all! I can’t wait to have kids, and these posts help me to not romanticise birth and children. So many times nowadays people ‘edit’ social media/their lives to look perfect when in reality it’s hard and terrifying and even just downright frustrating. But you cover all the good stuff too! So thank you Ruth, for providing a reality check and sharing your thoughts with us 🙂

    • Kirsty
      April 3, 2017 / 12:21 pm

      I agree with this. I dont have my own children yet (I do work with them though) and I relish reading about the experience at night as so often im told, oh no they sleep right through and I just think seriously?! Lol, so thank you Ruth for the tongue in cheek view 🙂 xx

  7. Katy
    April 2, 2017 / 2:08 pm

    Thank you for writing this. I’m on day three of this mummy malarkey and this post is exactly what I needed to hear. I really like you honest approach, it puts everything into perspective.

  8. Anna R
    April 2, 2017 / 2:15 pm

    I’m almost 30 weeks pregnant with my first and have to say, your posts don’t scare me. I like how honest they are, and realistic, with an edge of humour. I feel like I know what to actually expect rather than the fluffy clouds and roses and singing birds a lot of other places describe! So THANK YOU! Xx

  9. C
    April 2, 2017 / 3:06 pm

    “peanut butter from a deflated balloon”: can there actually be a better anology? I love your posts and I did read them throughout my pregnancy. My son is a couple of months younger than Angelica. x

  10. C
    April 2, 2017 / 3:27 pm

    Ruth, may I also ask, what is the grey pillow you seem to be using a lot with Ted? Is it a baby pillow or just any pillow? I’m asking because we had a slight, very slight flatness with my son which isn’t really noticeable to anyone but me and I’d love to learn how to avoid it with the second. I know about the various brands of baby pillows that claim to help and wondered if this is something like that. Thank you x

      • April 3, 2017 / 8:40 am

        My first had a problem and one side is a bit flat, used the baby moov pillow with 2nd and he has a lovely shaped head!! I would recommend. X

  11. Marie
    April 2, 2017 / 6:47 pm

    I love reading your posts, they are honest and funny. I wish I had your posts to follow when I had my first baby, it would have reassured me that most mums are going through similar ups and downs.

  12. Emma
    April 2, 2017 / 7:18 pm

    Hi Ruth, we are in very similar boats as my son is 19 months and my daughter just 8 weeks, 17 month age gap. Wow it is a test of endurance some days. Seriously wonder what was I complaining about when I just had 1 baby to mind ! Of course sometimes it is amazing and I genuinely can’t believe my luck to have them both as I lost my first daughter at 24 weeks 8 years ago. I so relate to the above post and love your honesty. The first few weeks can be a huge blur, it really was this time around as not only is there this tiny being who needs everything you have to give but there’s your other baby, who needs you too and who you feel so guilty for suddenly being physically unable to give everything you have to all of a sudden. Of course it’s worth it but in those first weeks it doesn’t always feel that way. And it’s so important to say these things and be honest as it seriously helps new mum’s and mum’s to be through the fog and wonderment that is having a baby Xx

  13. Katharina
    April 2, 2017 / 7:45 pm

    Dear Ruth, thanks for your honesty. Your posts always make me laugh so hard and remember that Iam not alone with all the strange things that come with birth etc.. My baby turns 1 year next week and it still is a big adventure everyday. I love reading your blog because you tell the truth in such funny ways. All the best to you and your loved ones!

  14. Louise
    April 2, 2017 / 8:28 pm

    I’ve been really enjoying all your real and honest posts and instagrams. They’re reassuring but also just a great read and the humour is very much welcomed at a time when it all feels a bit daunting (I’m due my second next month). So thank you! X

  15. April 2, 2017 / 9:06 pm

    How would I know what you have forgotten? My second one is one already, the things you are talking about are already a distant memory, and if it weren´t for my husband shocked look I would probably even consider a third one.

  16. Sophie
    April 2, 2017 / 10:00 pm

    I love reading your posts, they bring back such vivid memories. I couldn’t sleep after I brought my new born home, And I do mean could not sleep. I was alert to every snuffle, gurgle and turn when he was in the Moses basket beside me.I was a constant anxious presence over him fearing every sound meant immenent danger. Eventually my doctor told us to move him to his own room beside us [with doors open between[. He said that any sound I needed to hear, like a cry to feed or one of distress, I would hear from there. But I would be saved from the Mr Snuffleupagus symphony in the meantime and could seep. And he was right. It worked for both of us. We each find what is best for us. :]

  17. Sophie
    April 2, 2017 / 10:03 pm

    Good grief, I wish I could edit my hideous spelling and grammar mistakes.

  18. April
    April 2, 2017 / 11:44 pm

    This is so true! My sons are almost 2 and almost 4, and I miss those intense newborn days. I love your videos of baby Ted on Instagram!

  19. April 3, 2017 / 8:45 am

    Good lord! Fantastic scrotum/poo analogy Ruth! There’s a technique to it for sure!!
    I have 2 kids and I think your posts and writing is just brilliant. You bring reality, practical advice, the good stuff and the lols. Love it xxxx

  20. April 3, 2017 / 9:14 am

    My Dugan tee used to squeak in her sleep. At one point I was pretty much convinced that we had been infested with mice. Just as we thought the squeaking stopped, she would let out another one!

    • April 3, 2017 / 9:14 am

      Ok I’m obviously sleep deprived. My daughter…

  21. April 3, 2017 / 10:50 am

    Me and myhusband are preparing to have a baby. So I like your honest posts, they help me to understand different unknown things. And your posts don`t frighten me at all))) Thanks!

  22. Becca
    April 3, 2017 / 11:36 am

    Haha the ‘Cleaning poo from a miniature scrotum’ made me laugh so much, I had exactly this issue when my son was born as my first is a little girl. I was also caught out by ‘little boy lying without a nappy on, having a wee and it spraying everywhere! – This does not happen with girls.

  23. Yvonne
    April 3, 2017 / 11:44 am

    Even though my two sons are well grown up now, I love reading your blogs. Perhaps I should have had my lunch before reading this one but I laughed out loud at the peanut butter/scrotum comment – so true!!

  24. Julia
    April 3, 2017 / 12:28 pm

    Thank you for you honest, insightful and wonderful blog. Absolutely brilliant post! Nappy changing little boys is spot on, also the bit about ‘sleep when they sleep!’ I had mastitis and now am combination feeding while trying to get my supply back and unless I wash/sterilise/prep bottles when he sleeps I am on the back foot with a roaring baby bear when he wakes! Must master sleep walking and try not to throttle relatives who give that advice!

  25. Michelle Morton
    April 3, 2017 / 12:29 pm

    My 7 month old daughter wakes every two hours and in my googling of “sleep deprived mum” I read your old posts about Angelica and how the car is the best baby gadget (so true)! I have since stopped googling and filled my car with petrol! Don’t worry reading the Unmumsy Mum book made me cry and that was suppose to be funny (hormones) x

  26. April 3, 2017 / 3:28 pm

    I loved this! Have shared on my business Facebook page.
    Nothing you’ve written has made me anxious about one day becoming pregnant…. although that could partly be because I am SO SINGLE and also partly because I work with tinies so am sort of used to a lot of what you talk about, e.g. scrotums that are impossible to clean and fountains of feces! So keep going – I love what you do!

  27. Meabh
    April 3, 2017 / 4:33 pm

    Breastfed baby poo doesn’t stink…it smells like buttered popcorn…and it’s so so so runny!!!

    (Our baby boys are the same age!)

  28. Mandy
    April 3, 2017 / 4:53 pm

    I love this post! I’m expecting my second after a long time (my daughter is 7), and I feel like I’ve forgotten everything about the newborn stage! Please keep sharing your honest stories!

  29. Henriëtte
    April 3, 2017 / 5:08 pm

    Ruth, you are Gold, you DO make me laugh, every time!! So much enjoyed reading this!

  30. Tereza
    April 3, 2017 / 6:30 pm

    trying to wipe peanut butter from a deflated balloon! that’s just exact! enjoyed all your posts so far. I myself have kids 13m appart and it was crazy time when the younger one was born. But time flew SO quickly, enjoy every moment.

  31. carla
    April 3, 2017 / 7:01 pm

    Love this post, its beautifully honest and very funny xx

  32. Ley
    April 3, 2017 / 8:15 pm

    Another great post Ruth. You’re doing a great job of telling it how it is and sometimes it is shit scary. For what it’s worth, I found oil on cotton wool helps with cleaning up the peanut butter situation. The ‘sleep when the baby is sleeping’ or ‘just leave the chores’ are classic lines. People eventually stopped saying it when I flashed them my best ‘wtf are you talking about’ face.

    V belated congratulations to you and your family! I don’t know how you manage it all. I’ve spent the past four months struggling to spell my name.

  33. Ginny Burley
    April 4, 2017 / 12:51 am

    Love your posts, Ruth! I am a grandmother of 7 now, and one thing I might have put on that list is that newborns need lots of soothing, walking, and jiggling of one sort or another. I got exhausted going through that as a mom, but I have enjoyed helping out my girls with soothing their newborns. Your style of writing is really impressive!! I look forward to every post.

  34. April 4, 2017 / 3:45 am

    OMG with the finger nails! I flinched a little when I read that. I love your honesty. It is so helpful to hear real stories about life with babies with some humor added in. I can’t take any more “they’ll ruin you” and “it is just the greatest”. Thanks for shooting sraight!

  35. April 4, 2017 / 7:35 am

    Oddly, I can actually offer some advice on the poo on the scrotum problem. I know most people will think I’m a crazy hippy but reusable wipes are a lifesaver (even my definitely-not-a-hippy husband raves about them). They have loads more ‘grab’ and clean everything much more easily and thoroughly. And none of that annoying ‘pull ten out of the packet’ annoyance either. And you can just chuck them in a normal wash.

    Harder to sell to most people, but reusable nappies also solve the poo up the back issue too. But I’ll quit before I start sounding like an awful eco warrior…!

    Lovely posts Ruth. Making me feel broody for another!

  36. J
    April 4, 2017 / 12:02 pm

    Hi, Ruth, every single word you wrote is true. Babies are a strange thing. 😀

  37. Andrea
    April 4, 2017 / 1:58 pm

    Ted? Am I miss-remembering things or was that the name of your last cat?

  38. Charlotte
    April 4, 2017 / 5:17 pm

    Hahaha! Brilliant post! Every word rings true! Especially the poo explosions. My youngest son managed to fire a poo over my shoulder & hit the door when I was changing his nappy a couple of days after he’d been born- narrowly missed my husband’s face!! Still makes me laugh now. Lovely pics of beautiful Ted as well. X

  39. Jenny
    April 5, 2017 / 12:16 pm

    I LARFED a lot at this! It’s all so true – especially nappy changing expeditions. When the breastfed yellow seedy poo gets into the wrinkly scrotum Oh the joy!! Our little man is two months next week and the grunts, snorts etc crack me up – my husband calls him our “stinky milk pirate, looking for his grog” when he fights with me, pre-latch! We’re stressy Betty’s, but it’s all so much fun too!!

  40. Marie-Therese
    April 5, 2017 / 12:40 pm

    Newborns can poo so violently that forces its way out of the back/legs of the nappy and into all surrounding areas = poonami! My first one had lots of them going on, that was the moment for me to pass her to my hubby!

  41. Jenny
    April 6, 2017 / 4:26 am

    Thank you. My baby boy is 6 months old and I really enjoyed reading this x

  42. Anja
    April 7, 2017 / 9:54 am

    Thank you again for yet another great post! I always take them with a pinch of humour and often they make me laugh! I just love how you always say it as it is!

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