Ten things I never knew I never knew

Last November I had a baby. Everybody tells you babies change your life and that’s very obviously true. But those same people who bestow that sage wisdom upon you are often very bad at explaining what they mean. Dear friends of ours are about to meet their little troll (cuter in Swedish) and I’m putting my unsolicited unadvice here instead of giving it to them directly.

1. Soon you will know exactly where your floor creaks.

Babies are terrifying in so many ways. Though not the worst fear, waking a sleeping baby unintentionally is a horrifying experience and one which I truly do not wish on anyone.

In the beginning, newborns seem to sleep unshakably soundly during the day and not at all at night. Very suddenly, all of the floorboards in your tiny apartment are like the un-lubricated hinges of a Gothic castle gate. I recommend walking as closely as you can to the walls. The boards have not had the same use at the edges and are therefore less creaky.

2. It is entirely impossible to be quiet while cleaning the kitchen.

Crockery, glassware, cutlery (especially cutlery) is impossible to touch or move without creating a heart-stopping cacophony. Completely regardless of what the kitchenware is touching or what you try to do with it, you are doomed.

Unpack the dishwasher after the baby wakes up.

3. You will sacrifice your comfort in ways you never imagined.

Parenting is and must be a selfless act. Or, collection of acts. You will stifle what feel like very important sneezes while remembering the (possibly fake) fact that sneezes can kill if not allowed out of the body. Something about exploding veins? I’m not sure. Felix edit: definitely fake.

You will suppress the desire to move your arm, despite its complete lack of bloodflow. Nothing is comfortable when you’re stuck underneath a sleeping baby, but especially not leaning diagonally with no support for your head, using one arm to hold the other arm up and both legs somehow kind of hovering despite your feet being stupidly close to the floor. The baby loves it.

You will feel immense relief that your baby is scratching the hell out of your throat and/or eyeballs because she is finally eating properly. Haha, you will laugh, they’re only such tiny bleeding wounds. It’s fine.

You will carry your baby around the house, naked and dripping milk because she refuses to latch properly unless you’re performing an intermediate ballet. Or you will bend yourself into impossible shapes to get your nipple into the baby’s mouth while she is in a basket/in a cot/sitting upright on the couch/somehow on top of you. I did not understand true exhaustion until I had forced a small, shrieking person with razors for fingernails to eat out of my actual body. For hours.

Also, for many of the aforementioned reasons, your back will hurt forever, probably. The baby will only get bigger and heavier, tougher and more determined.

4. Your idea of cleanliness will alter drastically.

It’s liberating, really. Only a little bit of vomit? You totally wiped most of that off anyway and baby vomit smells fine. Wee? Baby wee is just water! It’s practically freshly laundered now! Thanks baby!

Dried, slobbered up corn biscuit thingies? If it wasn’t yellow and crusty, nobody would even notice! It stays.

And yet, despite your complete lack of regard for personal hygiene, your entire life is spent doing laundry.

5. A sleep-in is now seven and a late night is after nine.

Anything after five in the morning is a bonus and staying up past ten produces anxious jitters. Mental calculation of remaining sleepable hours is a regular evening pass-time and regardless of when you manage to get to sleep, your baby will wake up exactly one hour later.

Going out for dinner now requires food to be on the table at four in the afternoon to allow for eating time, preparing the baby for the trip home and getting back in time to put her to sleep and avoiding an over-tired screaming hour. Also, the baby poos right as you try to leave the house. The more clothes the baby is wearing, the more likely the last minute poo.


Somehow, despite it all, your new life as a resident of tired, blurry, dirty land, will remain at least slightly the same. You are still a person, for example. Your partner is also still a person. You both have feelings and thoughts and the analytical, problem-solving parts of each of your brains still manage to function. You still like eating food and going for walks. You still have plans and desires for the future.

And, slowly but surely, life gets more and more comprehensible. Soon, having a baby around all the time is normal. And every time you blink or go to the kitchen to do a load of dishes  your baby can suddenly do a new, crazy thing like sit up by herself for ages or whack herself in the head with her favourite toy fox, look, Felix! She’s whacking herself! I think she’s even doing it on purpose! The fox is soft, for any concerned readers.

You may notice I only wrote five things after promising ten. I think this is an adequate illustration of the kind of efficiency new parents possess. I am aware of the problem, but fixing it is currently beyond me and it’s amazing I got as close as I did to my goal.

If you read it twice, it’ll be ten things.

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Lily Ray
Lily Ray

Journalist, photographer, traveller and knitter. Mother to a small but demanding infant, Lily's life is messy but generally lovely. She has a lot of thoughts. Here is where she puts them.

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