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Published February 17, 2014, 03:22 PM

Parenting Perspectives: Things missing amid all that good advice

When my husband and I announced we were expecting a baby, we were inundated with two things: good wishes and advice.

By: Alicia Strnad, INFORUM

When my husband and I announced we were expecting a baby, we were inundated with two things: good wishes and advice.

A lot of advice.

The advice, good and bad, was all well-meaning, and some of it did turn out to be helpful. Some of it even made us better parents.

But despite everything we were told, there were still a lot of things no one warned us about.

A few things I’d have liked to know earlier:

  • Not everyone falls “in love” with their baby right away. In movies, the first thing anyone says to their new baby is, “Oh, I love you so much.”

    It wasn’t like that for me. My first thought was how glad I was not to be pregnant anymore. My second thought was terror at how tiny she was, just more than 4 pounds.

    I instantly felt protective of her, but that Hollywood expression of love wasn’t there right away. I’d jump in front of a train to protect her now, but it took me a few weeks of living with her before I realized, “Wow, I AM in love with her.”

    (In all fairness, I think it took a lot longer than that for her to fall in love with me.)

  • Diapers and feeding would be the “easy” parts. Most of the advice you get when you’re expecting revolves around eating and eliminating. (Another thing no one tells you: Everyone will want to talk to you about poop.)

    Yes, we did have difficulty with those things. Breastfeeding didn’t come as naturally as I wanted it to, and yes, diapers are gross. But I expected that.

    What I wished someone had warned me about was the in-between times. For the first few months of her life, she’d scream if we tried to put her down, so we spent hours just holding her, trying to figure out what we were supposed to do.

  • Your baby will hurt you. A lot. Babies have the whole cute, innocent act down. They look adorable and coo, then, just when you’ve been lulled into a false sense of security, bam! They rake their razor-sharp talons across your face.

    Baby nails are at least 10 times stronger than regular nails, and they grow back at incredible speed. By the time you finish trimming baby’s 10th nail, the first nail has grown back and is already drawing blood.

    Other dangers of babies: flailing arms that land punches with amazing accuracy and incredibly hard heads with special built-in sonar to help them bash themselves into your nose at full force.

  • How my relationship with my husband would change. Having a child has tested our relationship more than I could have imagined. We’ve fought over ridiculous things because we were both too tired to be reasonable. We’ve argued over whose “turn” it was to do various baby chores. We’ve even bickered over whose idea it was to have the darn kid in the first place.

    Yet, I feel it’s also made us stronger. Debating how we want to raise our child has given us greater insight into each other. Seeing my husband care for our baby has given me even more respect for his capabilities and his strength of character. Spending time together at our worst – exhausted, stressed and overwhelmed – has helped us appreciate each other at our best.

  • How quickly my daughter would develop her own personality. Callie started showing glints of a strong personality right off the bat, thriving despite a difficult pregnancy and being strong enough to skip a stay in the NICU despite being born prematurely.

    By the time she was a few weeks old, it was apparent that this little girl was strong-willed, stubborn and sassy. She has what my sister describes as a “persistent personality” – she’s determined to have her own way, even if she has to scream for hours to get it.

    My mother tells me I was the same way from birth, so I guess I brought this on myself. The only question, I guess, is why didn’t my mother warn me?

    Maybe as first-time parents, we’re supposed to struggle through these moments and figure out for ourselves how best to deal with the trying moments.

    I do wish, though, that someone had at least warned me about baby claws so I could have stocked up on bandages.

    Alicia Strnad Hoalcraft is a page designer at The Forum. She lives in Moorhead with her husband and their daughter, Calliope. She can be reached at astrnad@forumcomm.com. Her daughter can be found on Twitter on www.twitter.com/lilmisscalliope.