#3. A Newborn's Soft Spot Pulses and Bulges
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Even if you've never seen a real, live baby in person, you probably know enough to not thump it on its soft spot. In fact, the phrase "soft spot" is like a repellent for the childless. Not that you can blame them. The reason babies have a soft spot in the first place is because our skulls aren't fully fused at birth, so our heads need to be extra bendy when we're getting squeezed out of our mama's private parts. Which is great for human brain size, not great for having a complete piece of bone covering the most vulnerable and important part of your body.
They have a weak spot. We can win this war.
Hey! Did you know that the technical name for a baby's soft spot is "fontanelle"? Funny how that word kind of sounds like "fountain," huh? Yeah, that's not a coincidence. In the same way that a bubbling fountain pulses and gurgles with the constant pumping of water, a baby's fucking brain pulses through its paper-thin head.
Really! Put your hand on a baby's soft spot and you can feel its life force throbbing. Or don't -- just sit back and watch a baby from afar. You can see it pulsate and bulge, like a little Martian from old movies, if Martians from old movies required suckling to stay alive.
But we all know that Martians survive on a diet of pure "5-Second Films."
Here's the good news. Even without the skull, the infant's brain is protected by a membrane and the fontanelle will gradually close over the next seven to 19 months; in the meantime, may we suggest a helmet?
#2. Boys Have Swollen Scrotums and Get Erections
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Before you even have a chance to change your little man's first diaper, you'll probably notice something unusual about his groin area. Specifically, his balls are huge. Unless the nursing staff are as horrified as you are about your son's cojones, calm down, because they see gigantic baby balls all the time. Little girls are going through the same thing, by the way, only less dramatically.
Newborns are still holding on to a little extra fluid and hormone surges from their birthday. Unfortunately, some of those fluids choose to chill out in your son's scrotum or daughter's labia, because why not? It's not an ideal situation, but at least we're talking about body fluid, not your neighbor or pubic lice. Most of the time the swelling will go away on its own in no time. Every now and then, however, when a boy's testicles descend from the abdomen, the tube they travel through doesn't quite close up all the way. So extra water goes along for the journey and gets caught in the scrotum. Surprise! Your boy has a hydrocele, and it apparently looks like a water balloon. Again, the extra-ballness will go down on its own, but in the meantime, if you shine a flashlight on it, the whole scrotum will light up. Not that we recommend shining lights on your baby's genitals when you're bored or anything. If only we could make this conversation less awkward ...
Nope, this picture was not enough.
Oh, we know! Baby boners!
They are perfectly normal. Much like a grown male's morning wood, your newborn's erection is his body's way of tuning up his nervous system. Oh, and little stiffies tend to happen right before the baby needs to pee, so if you take off his diaper and see one, you might want to cover that sucker up again right quick. Or duck.
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Go scrub that thought from your brains while we delete the search history from researching this article.
#1. Girls Have Periods and All Babies Lactate
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Did some of you read that last entry and say, "I sure am glad we have a girl"? Yep, no surprises in the diaper for you! Except ... wait, is that blood? You check frantically, and she doesn't seem to be injured so ... Oh. Oh, no fucking way.
Yes, way. What you're looking at is a real period coming from a baby's vagina. Not a leftover ingestion of mom's insides or a particularly awful diaper rash. It's a period, hopefully a tiny one, but still a period. When babies are in the womb, they take in everything, as anti-tobacco posters featuring smoking fetuses have no doubt shown you. If mom smokes, the baby smokes; if mom drinks, the baby drinks. If mom watches trashy reality television, the baby is born uses phrases like "I didn't come here to make friends" and giving eye rolls without discretion.
This kid's mom had an unquenchable thirst for overalls.
So a mother's hormones naturally cross over the placenta into babyworld. Day in and day out, the child takes in the same chemicals that make mom cry over a particularly powerful episode of How I Met Your Mother or rage at the fact that Freaks and Geeks was canceled 12 years ago. Once the baby is born, those hormones are cut off, except whatever they're getting through breast milk. Mom pops the kid out and that sweet, sweet estrogen disappears, the uterine lining sheds, and bam! Mini-period.
Fetal boys aren't exempt from the estrogen flow, either. They may not have a little uterus lining to shed, but they do have boobs, thanks to mom's weird-ass hormones. While mom's breasts are prepping for feeding, the pre-born baby is soaking up the same hormones. When the child is born, it still has that estrogen in its system, which means it's got a little bit of breast milk hanging out in its ta-tas -- even the boys.
Oh, we know, little buddy. We know.
And did we mention they're leaking? And that there might be blood in the mix? In the old days, the baby's breast milk was called "witch's milk" because crazy old-timey people thought witches fed their cats with it, or something. Today we call it "Gross, DON'T TALK ABOUT THAT," because technology hasn't given us a mind-wipe yet and self-administered roofies aren't appropriate during the work day.
Tracy V is somehow surviving her kids and has a Tumblr here.
For more truths you probably aren't ready to hear, check out 5 Things Nobody Tells You About Adopting a Dog and 6 Terrifying Things They Don't Tell You About Childbirth.