Newborn baby sticking out their tongue while wrapped in a hospital blanket
Care Crying New Baby

"I Have No Idea" - Honest Answers to Questions About My Newborn

By Jennifer Mearns

When I became a new mother, I was baffled by the amount of questions I received; I expected to be the one with the questions. I’d just met this new little guy and suddenly everyone asked me questions as if we were lifelong buds and I knew all his likes and dislikes, hopes and dreams, resume and shoe size. As much as he was brand new, so was I.

I didn’t know how to answer these questions. I didn’t know him yet! New motherhood and newborn life have an extremely quick learning curve, like being thrown into a PhD program with nary a high school diploma.

These are some of the questions I experienced about newborn life, where the answer is always the same:  I have no idea.

Does he always do that?

I have no idea. Isn’t two weeks too soon to say always? Because that’s his age.

Why is he crying?

I have no idea. He could be hungry, wet, poopy, gassy, angry, tired, bored, frustrated, or worried about his tax return. You’ll have to ask him. The one thing I know for certain is that he’s not happy.

Does he usually sleep this long?

I have no idea.  I haven’t slept more than three hours at a time in five weeks.  Sometimes he sleeps great; sometimes he naps for thirty minutes and makes me want to cry.  (Or actually cry.)  It’s the unpredictability that gets to me.

How many pees/poos does he have in a day?

I have no idea. The doctor or nurse asked this every single time we went to the doctor. How do I keep track of what happens south of the equator with this little poop/pee machine? Do people change them every time they pee a thimbleful? We’d go through a box of diapers a day at that rate.

Does he pull at his ear? Why do you suspect an infection?

I have no idea. He’s screaming and he had a cold. But it could be his teeth. Or he could just have gas. He’s a baby. He can’t tell me.

Has he rolled over/crawled/walked/graduated yet?

I have no idea. Wait. Is he supposed to? What does Google say?

Should you change him before or after he eats?

I have no idea. Sometimes I do change him and he poops midway through the bottle and then I change him and he poops again when he’s done. Sometimes I don’t change him and he doesn’t poop at all. Sometimes I don’t change him and then he blows out his already semi-full diaper. It’s a crap shoot. (See what I did there?)

How much does he eat in a day?

I have no idea. This question was asked every time I went to the doctor for a well visit.  I learned how to answer, but the first few times I would frantically try to do math in my head and then usually just say something like, “He eats 3-4 ounces (or 5-6 ounces, or 7-8 ounces) 5-6 times a day.” Sometimes he ate a ton and other times not so much. Also, if you’re breastfeeding, there’s no gauge, no ounce markings on each breast to show how much has been consumed. I imagine you pretty much just guess.

These questions didn’t really annoy me, but did serve to show me how little I actually knew about newborn life and keeping a tiny human alive.  We’re doing good so far, but it’s too soon to tell.  I still feel like a new mother.  Is there ever a time when you feel competent, like, “I’ve got this.  I know what I’m doing.  They might make it to adulthood.”?  I’ll let you know.

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