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10 Things I Learned in my First 3 Weeks as a Parent

I have been excited to become a parent for as long as I can remember. And the 41 weeks of pregnancy just heightened that excitement.

I’ll admit that despite my anticipation, I pretty much did nothing to prepare for parenthood. I mean, I read a few websites and had multiple apps on my phone for pregnancy information, but none of them really prepared me for parenting because it turns out, my baby does not read books or apps either.

But I simply did not expect to learn so much in such a short period of time. Parenting has been a bit of sink or swim situation. We don’t have all the right answers (and I am starting to suspect that there isn’t really a right answer to most situations), but we’re doing the best we can every day. And so far, we’re hanging in there.

I know some of these are kind of obvious, but these are the 10 things I learned about in my first 3 weeks as a parent.

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  • Erythema Toxicum 1 of 10
    Erythema Toxicum
    The day we came home from the hospital I noticed that my baby had red raised spots (like the one on his chest in this picture) that would come and go on and I FREAKED out. Thankfully at our pediatrician appointment the next day we learned it was something called Erythema Toxicum, or E. Tox and it's not serious and should go away on it's own. At 3 weeks old, he only gets a spot or two every few days instead of the many he had at first. No one warned me about this one.
  • Clusterfeeding 2 of 10
    Clusterfeeding
    A few days after we got home, the baby went from needing to be awakened every 3-4 hours to eat, to wanting to eat every hour at best. After several exhausting hours, we realized that this was clusterfeeding and also, a special circle of hell for me because I was pumping, which, ugh.
  • Flow Preference 3 of 10
    Flow Preference
    My non-breastfeeding baby went on a Breastflow bottle that was made to mimic breastfeeding when he was 3 days old. And then when he finally got around to attempting breastfeeding, he became upset every time. It turns out that one component of it was a flow preference because the bottle flowed more easily than my breast. We still have not yet sorted this one out, but trust me, I know all about it already.
    Image from thefirstyears.com
  • Nipple Aversion 4 of 10
    Nipple Aversion
    This is the other super! fun! part of our breastfeeding woes. I had no idea that a baby could be averse to nipples, it seems kind of against nature to me, but trust me they can be. And the result is much screaming when attempting to breastfeed.
  • Internal Tearing 5 of 10
    Internal Tearing
    So I was well aware and appropriately afraid of tearing my perineum and the unpleasant healing process that followed, but I was NOT aware of the fact that you can tear internally. I was super blessed to have torn my urethra while pushing and the recovery has not been fun, to say the very least.
    Photo from MorgueFile
  • Overtired Babies 6 of 10
    Overtired Babies
    There was a day last week where Eli would not nap. He was learning how to hold his head up, so when we tried to soothe him to sleep all he wanted to do was practice his new skill. And I foolishly thought, oh, awesome, he's so tired, he'll sleep great tonight. hahahaha. No. Sleep begets sleep, it turns out. I am much more persistent with my attempts to get him to nap and much more careful scheduling outings to not interfere.
  • Diaper Numbers are Minimums 7 of 10
    Diaper Numbers are Minimums
    The nurses said we should look for one wet and one dirty diaper the first 24 hours of life, which is why I was completely unprepared for the EIGHT meconium diapers Eli had in the first 24 hours. It was unreal.
  • 0-3 Month Clothes are not Newborn Sized 8 of 10
    0-3 Month Clothes are not Newborn Sized
    Everyone told me to avoid newborn sized clothes because most babies outgrow them so quickly. Well, my petite baby is consequently drowning in all his 0-3 onesies. If it were not for some preemie/newborn onesies, he wouldn't have anything appropriately sized.
  • Good Burps Cannot be Skipped 9 of 10
    Good Burps Cannot be Skipped
    The first few days, Eli didn't really eat enough to require much burping. Then he had a hunger explosion and was taking multiple ounces at a time...and spitting them back up. We've since learned that he really needs 1-2 burps per ounce and that if you abandon a stubborn burp, you will wear his last meal.
  • Never Say No to Help 10 of 10
    Never Say No to Help
    My husband had to return to work, including his 28 hour overnight calls, when Eli was just shy of 2 weeks old and my family stepped in to help those nights. Even though I handle nights on my own all the time, having someone around to offer to hold Eli while I pumped (instead of putting him in the swing) and to make sure I got breakfast and drank enough water was great.

What were the first things you learned when you became a parent?

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