Yup, you read that right. I hate newborns. Hate them.
Let me set a scene for you — a scene to which many parents will relate.
I’m up late with a screaming, inconsolable baby trying to give my poor wife a break. He’s not just crying, he’s doing that “scream so hard his entire body is rigid, lip is quivering, head is as red as a cherry” type of scream. And he’s been doing it for 45 minutes straight because apparently that’s how long it takes to summon the harbingers of Satan.
But the dark forces had much more in store for me that night.
I walked with him, sang to him, bounced him, changed him, put him in the bouncy chair, tried to give him a pacifier, walked outside with him — you name it, I tried it. The only thing I hadn’t done was feed him, because our doctor said we were over-feeding him so we had to cut back to a minimum of every two hours. But after 45 minutes and feeling the fingers of frenzied lunacy reaching into my soul, I took some breast milk out of the freezer and started warming it up.
Maybe he saw how close he was to eating. Maybe not. I don’t know. But what I do know is Sam managed to ratchet up his screaming to previously unheard of levels of torture and anguish. The kind of screams where it looks like he’s screaming because his mouth is wide open but it’s actually silent because the sound of his wailing is on a 7-second delay and you know it’s coming but you hope against hope that it doesn’t but then it does and BOOM — it’s 1,000 times worse than you imagined? That kind of scream.
And that one sent me careening over the edge of sanity.
I worked like a mad scientist holding him in one arm and getting the breast milk heated up with the other hand. Getting the frozen milk from the bag to the bottle was my last hope, and one that I just knew would work. Except the milk was taking FOREVER to heat up. Or maybe it just felt like forever because I was in a full on panic with the anguished screams of my son getting ready to overtake me and drown me.
FINALLY the milk was ready and — with fingers trembling — I opened up the bag, grabbed the bottle, and poured the calming elixir in posthaste. Then I lifted up the bottle to feed my son and —
The milk went EVERYWHERE! Because in my crazed state, I forgot to put in a bottle liner.
Watching MJ’s hard-pumped breast milk flow across the counter and spill onto the floor as my son wailed maniacally in my ear was too much. It was beyond…it just sent me to a place…well, this is the best way I can describe it.
Now don’t mistake what I’m saying here. I love Sam. We wanted him badly, we tried to conceive him for a long time, and we asked for all of this. So yes, I’m fully aware that I sound like a complete jerk here. But the fact remains — I hate newborns.
I was 28 when Will was born — a young buck who carried on in his spare time and lived the night life. Plus I was working odd hours as a journalist which meant lots of night shifts, so I wouldn’t go to bed until 1 a.m. That made staying up with the baby a lot more palatable. Now, at the ripe old age of 34, I’m an elderly curmudgeon who can’t seem to function on anything less than seven solid hours. And I’m commuting 3+ hours a day which means the gridlock, sleepless nights, and perpetual screaming are in some sort of hellish race to see which component will suck the life out of me first.
But back to newborns.
They suck. I know that’s not PC and new parents are supposed to be on Cloud 9 floating like Tinkerbell and shitting gumdrops of happiness as we post totes adorbs baby pictures on Facebook for the world to see. But I’m calling it like it is. (Although Sam’s FB pictures are hella cute)
Newborns eat, crap, and cry. They cry when they have to eat or crap, and if they crap after they cry they cry to eat again. If they cry after they eat they cry again when they crap. And then they cry when you’re cleaning their crap and also because you’re not allowing them to eat quickly enough. Then, when you least expect it, they piss in your face when you forget to make a “diaper shield” while changing them.
Which, coincidentally, is the only time the little bastards smile.
“Yeah but c’mon — you’ll miss this when he grows up,” is the common refrain from the masses. Well I’ve got news for you people: I won’t.
I will not miss Sam being a newborn. I don’t miss Will’s newborn phase. Not one bit. Will is so freaking cool and awesome and he’s been that way since before he turned 1. He grew up and learned sign language, then words, then walked, and reasoned, and joked, played sports, became a wise-ass, etc. Older kids do something frickin’ amazing every day, and I love that. Yes toddlers are difficult but I’ll take the Terrible 2s and 3s EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. as opposed to the newborn phase.
Unfortunately, none of that matters at the moment because Sam is a newborn. And what little patience I had at 28 is gone at 34. And that sucks because it means I’m not being a very good father. And I’m not. I know that.
With Will I was the Baby Whisperer. He loved me and favored me and I could soothe him like no other. Sam, however, only has eyes for MJ. Where she has the magic touch, I’m basically Shaq trying to shoot free throws. And when I can’t calm him and he won’t stop crying, I lose my mind. I’ve banged my head off every surface of my house. I’ve screamed at the top of my lungs into pillows, cursing my very existence and bargaining with the universe for just a few hours sleep. Poor MJ has had to bail me out repeatedly, especially because I need sleep for work.
I tell everyone I wish I was better with newborns, but it’s a lie. What I really wish is we could hit the fast-forward button six months and get to the cool part of parenting. Because newborns are terrible, awful little soul-sucking creatures and if I don’t get some sleep, I’m going to run away and join a cult until Sam is no longer a tool of Satan.
I want to reiterate, I love my son. We wanted another baby so badly and now he’s here and that’s great, but it still doesn’t change the fact that there’s nothing good, fun, or easy about the first few months. So if I sound a little nuts right now, it’s because I am.
Because I have a newborn. And newborns suck.