6 Terrifying Things Nobody Tells You About Newborns
Despite our warnings about the horrors of pregnancy, childbirth, and babies, some of you are still destined to become parents, if you haven't done it already. Congratulations! Now prepare to be terrified, because you have no idea what you're about to face. And we're not even talking about that first diaper change.
We're betting that before now, nobody has told you that ...
Newborns Are Covered in Body Hair
Aw, look at that full, luxurious head of hair on your little tyke! She looks just like her old man! And look at all the hair on her shoulders and back. Just like her ... grandpa?
There should be a law.
Yes, along with those downy newborn locks, don't be surprised if your baby is born with hair all over her upper back, shoulders, and face, especially if she's born early.
"Code yellow! Nurse, get me a comb, stat!"
Don't worry. You haven't really given birth to Jo-Jo the Dog-Faced Boy. That hair is called lanugo, and it's normal. Lanugo is the first hair the body makes, and in utero it covers the developing child like fuzz on a peach, if that peach had spent the last five months kicking its mother when she was trying to sleep and jumping up and down on her bladder. Experts think the hair is meant to regulate the baby's temperature in the womb, like a shoddy fur coat. Fun fact: If the baby is born lanugo-free, that means she shed the hair in the uterus ... then ate it.
So those are your options, parents: You're either blessed with a smooth-skinned baby who only sports hair on her head because she ate the rest of her body hair during the seventh or eighth month of pregnancy like a disgusting little pre-birth Gollum, or you have a hairy baby. No need to storm the aisles of Babies R Us looking for a razor, though; the hair will go away on its own in a few weeks.
And if not, there's always the black market.
Babies Stare At You While They Sleep
There's nothing more peaceful than sleeping infants, especially since it's the one time they're not screaming at you for something. But you might notice that your baby sleeps differently: He or she continues to glare at you while snoring away.
And not only are the baby's eyes not shut all the way, but those eyeballs are rolling around in their sockets like your bundle of joy is on a particularly good trip, its lips are twitching ... wait, is your baby possessed? Is it time to call a baby exorcist? Does that mean the exorcist is also a baby?
If so, maybe have him start with the clearly possessed parent who bestowed this idiotic torture.
Nope -- sleeping with half-open eyes is just a thing babies do. The truth is no one knows why they do it -- scientists are too busy working on things like sudden infant death syndrome and baby cancer to figure out zombie-eyed sleep patterns. The best guess is that it's because infants spend so much time in REM sleep: 50 percent, as opposed to an adult's 20 percent. It's the most active sleep stage, and it's called REM because, duh, rapid eye movement. Plus, remember that newborns do nothing but sleep, eat, poop, and cry, but mostly sleep. If you were knocked out 17 hours a day, you'd get caught doing some weird shit with your eyes, too.
Fortunately, your baby will outgrow creeping you out with its eyelids eventually, and in the meantime you can take comfort in the fact that YouTube is full of videos of parents desperately trying to convince themselves that their twitching voodoo child is somehow cute.
"Here, give him a kiss- wait, why are you running away?"
Babies Vomit from Their Noses and Spit Up Blood
Everybody who's seen a comedy featuring a baby knows the drill. The minute your uptight boss or prospective lover walks by, a baby is going to upchuck all over him or her. It's unavoidable movie logic. What they don't tell you is that the regurgitated formula can just as easily erupt from his button nose.
If you're not horrified, you're not picturing what's happening correctly. Imagine sneezing and getting a Kleenex full of cheeseburger or pepperoni pizza. Imagine having remnants of your half-digested food linger in your nose for the rest of the day. That's what babies have to deal with, partially because God hates them, and partially because the valve between their esophagus and stomach isn't fully developed and junk creeps back up into the throat and mouth. By the time we hit the dinner table, most of us have figured out how to keep milk from shooting out of our noses after a good knock-knock joke. Babies aren't there yet, so you have to be patient, have an iron stomach, and have about 232,000 burp rags.
Oh God, she can't see the look on his face! DROP HIM AND RUN, WOMAN!
Speaking of burp rags, don't freak out if one of them ends up with a stain that suspiciously looks like blood splatter. Among the many hellish things that will come out of your baby's mouth and nose is partially digested blood. Although alarming, blood in the baby barf can have a simple, disgusting explanation. When the kid is being squeezed out, he can swallow his mom's blood during all that nastiness and then puke it up later. Also, breastfeeding is not easy on the nipples, so if the skin cracks and bleeds (yes, that happens), the baby gets a little something extra in the milk.
Still, if your bundle of joy's spewing blood, you should really call your doctor and get that shit checked out, just to be safe.
Duct tape can't replace medical professionals. Yet.
A Newborn's Soft Spot Pulses and Bulges
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?
Boys Have Swollen Scrotums and Get Erections
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.
Go scrub that thought from your brains while we delete the search history from researching this article.
Girls Have Periods and All Babies Lactate
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.