Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O
That’s not how you spell farm. And on his farm he had a cow, E-I-E-I-O
One cow, huh? Some farm. With a moo moo here and a moo moo there
Is he feeding the cow? It seems to want some attention. Here a moo, there a moo, everywhere a moo moo
I don’t know a lot about farming, but that cow sounds pretty upset. Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O.
Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O.
Yes, you said. And on his farm he had a pig, E-I-E-I-O.
Why does he have a pig? Why doesn’t he get another cow? What is he expecting the cow and pig to do, get together and breed horses*? With a oink oink here and a oink oink there
Oh come on, MacDonald. Here a oink, there a oink, everywhere a oink oink
Feed your goddamn animals! Old MacDonald had a farm
Until he got reported by the RSPCA and now he’s barred from keeping animals for life.
Rock-a-bye baby, in the treetop, when the wind blows, the cradle will rock, when the bough breaks, the cradle will fall…
Okay, this whole thing is clearly a terrible idea. I have a better version.
Rockabye baby, never you fear,social services are on their way here
Your parents, quite frankly, need straight-jackets hugs, as we strongly suspect they’re on hardcore drugs.
Hey, diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle, the cow jumped over the moon…
You know what? You guys are way too high for me. I’m out.
* If you get this, you too have watched too much Red Dwarf and we should be friends.
Life just threw us a curve ball and we are unexpectedly off on an international flight. Sudden travel can be a bit hectic to pull off but by far the most stressful aspect of planning this impromptu trip has been securing an acceptable photograph for Childzilla’s bloody Australian passport.
The general guidelines for an acceptable picture (and Department of Immigration and Citizenship say “guidelines” in the title but you’ll notice that they are actually “requirements” which are totally different fucking things) are many and about as reasonable as Kuwait’s stance on gay marriage. Whoever came up with them has either a) never met a baby or b) met one and really fucking hated them. And their parents.
You must have the infant awake, eyes open but mouth closed. They need to looking at the camera dead-on without any shadow – say, from a flash – in the picture. This is a pretty tall ask for something that can’t hold its own head up straight.
You could just hold their head, but the parent’s hand or body must not visible in the background. Boobs are, presumably, right fucking out and not in a fun way. You are repeatedly told you can’t use photoshop on your boobs or on any issues at all so you can’t just edit them out.
Oh, and they recommend a “neutral expression”, presumably because all that poking and straightening and camera-flashing will relax and interest your baby as opposed, say, to turning them into the Baby of the Baskervilles complete with slavering and howling. Asking for a picture of a newborn with their eyes open and a neutral expression is the equivalent of asking for a shot of a politician telling the truth or Miley Cyrus being demure. It’s technically possible but bloody unlikely to happen. If your newborn is awake, they are screaming or eating. Them’s the rules.
So assuming you manage the impossible and get the child awake, while not crying or stuffing a boob in its mouth, you then face the challenge of persuading them to look at the camera lens. You can’t just move the lens to where their eyes are looking as that will mean they are not looking at the camera dead-on and you can’t just keep taking pictures because – as we discovered – the flash starts to really freak them out after a few minutes.
By about 5 minutes in, the child was crying. By 10, I was crying and wondering if we could get access to some sort of clamp. By 15, both the child and I had run out of tears and decided we needed a stiff drink. And that was just the first attempt.
All in all, it took three people helping (4 if you could the child), over 2 days and approximately 200 rejected shots to get 2 pictures that might pass the criteria if they were feeling generous. We took them to a printer, who said one of them might be okay if they photoshopped shadows in the background out a little.
Ahem. Which of course we didn’t do as the criteria told us not to. Ahem. Honest. Yes.
And the really annoying thing about it? It’s not like the picture will actually be useful. Babies change really fast. It’s kind of the whole point of being a baby. So that hard-won photograph will look a little off by the time we get the passport back from printing, decidedly dated by the time we start the trip and nothing bloody like Childzilla a year from now. Really, we could pop a picture of Winston Churchill on, or a pug in a baby hat, and no one would be any the wiser.
I could just photoshop in some boobs for realism.
If you came here looking for actual useful advice on how to take an infant passport photo as opposed to your yearly recommended allowance of swearing, my apologies and try this Infant Passport tutorial instead. It’s for the States but was generally very useful for us too. We found the supporting her head with towels trick especially useful.
Clothes companies would have you believe your newborn cares about fashion. They sell the “dressing your child” experience as a chance to coo and giggle together while you robe them in pristine coordinating outfits, complete with shoes, hat and matching accessories.
Newborns do not care about fashion. In fact, they pretty much loathe all clothing regardless of style content. The only thing that newborns hate more than being naked and cold is having clothes put on them. Dressing your child is not so much a bonding experience as practise for wrestling a pissed-off weasel into a wetsuit, if that weasel were on meth and the wetsuit two sizes too small.
And it doesn’t matter what you choose to clothe the child in anyway, as chances are you will be changing it in about 5 minutes when it gets covered in pee, poo, spew or all three.
This is clearly based on the mechanics of babies’ bowels. These distort the laws of time and space to hold an unlimited amount of poo and wee no matter how often you feed the child or change their nappy. And uttering the phrase, “but I just changed it” doubles the chance of a freshly filthy nappy no matter how much the child has eaten that day.
3. Never point a loaded anus at yourself.
Even if you think the child is done pooing, they have often saved you some. They do this so they can do a full-on I-am-fucked-off skunk-spray of poo at you when you have the temerity to try to clean them up.
If you get lucky, they will wait until after you have opened the nappy and cleaned them, and then start to pee. Then – as you bend over, frantic, attempting to stop the new nappy and their outfit from getting drenched – they will fart vigorously, spraying you with both pee and poo.
If you get really lucky this happens at 3am and necessitates an outfit change for you, the child and your partner who was so surprised by the sudden duet of poo-covered wailing that they spilled their bedside glass of water all over themselves. I learned this one the hard way.
4. Assume *ALL* anuses are loaded.
I also learned this one the hard way.
5. You will not get the time to finish anything you started.
I hear wailing. Better run, lest she set the bowels on me.
I’ve been bad at updating again recently but this time I have a really really good excuse.
While the plan was to update last week with gems such as my thrilling adventures with gestational diabetes (spoiler: not actually thrilling) and the joys of having your uterus cramp out your bladder and diaphragm (spoiler: no joy included), it all came to crashing halt on Thursday a week ago when, at weeks 38 and 0 days, my waters broke at 6am and I found myself rushing for the hospital a little earlier than planned.
Due to some complications and previous medical issues it had been suggested I consider a caesarean section. As it happened, Thursday was the same day I was due for an ultrasound and a chat with the obstetrician. Once we made it in there and made the call for a c-section, it all went very fast. My waters broke at 6am, I hit the hospital about 7.15, was in surgery by 8.30, and by 9.34 we had a 3.5kg baby girl on our hands (well, on my boobs) and it was all over bar the stitching up. She came out yelling and balling her fists and has been veering between sleep, boggling and completely losing her shit, raptor-style, and flailing teeny clawed feet and hands at us.
I know c-sections get a bad rep, but I really feel mine was as good as it could have been. My stitches are fecking teeny and, 10 days on, I am having to remind myself that I was in surgery recently and that lifting weights is a bad plan. We spent 2 days at the RPA hospital in Camperdown (I discharged myself early as I a) felt pretty good and b) was climbing the walls with boredom) and they were absolutely great to us as well as being gloriously free with the hardcore painkillers – it’s impressive how stoned I look in the photos. Reminds me of my college years to be honest.
Currently we’re getting by on advice from the hospital and friends, and on remarkably little sleep. Despite the fact that every night is now all night party night, we think she is adorable. She’s already showing signs of both her parents’ personalities; she loves her food, hates being told what to do with her limbs, and managed to perform a push-up and flip when placed on her tummy at three days much to the horror of the midwife who then said she was very “vigorous”.
In between all-night zombie shuffles, we’ve mainly been navigating inventing lots of different things to sing to her when she is grizzling. These are mainly songs based on Gangnam Style and whether she is a actually a baby raptor (“If you’re unhappy and you know it, shake your claws, ARGH ARGH” gets some airtime).
We’ve got lucky with the weather here – we’ve had 10 days of glorious sunshine which is good with the amount of additional washing we have had to do. You would not believe how many outfits and bedsheets a 3.5kg baby can go through in a day when both parents are still learning how to put on nappies effectively. Unsure if The Child is a raptor or aspiring Kardashian, frankly.
With under 4 weeks until my due date, we have spent the last few weekends running around the shops trying to buy everything we need when – and this is the fun bit – we have no idea what we need.
Many of the shops and baby websites supply check-lists of essential items for newborns. This would be helpful if they didn’t appear to be written by the sort of people who recommend you take 12 changes of outfit, 3 weeks’ worth of food and a full thermal sleeping system on an overnight camping trip in summer. I can see that a decent supply of nappies and wet-wipes, for example, are a pretty essential buy. I am just less than convinced that we will also need a “Baby-On-Board” car-sticker, a white-noise generator and a wipe-warmer.
We’ve managed through trial, error and copious levels of swearing at idiocy to cull the lists and come up with a few basic rules along the way. Whether you are buying for yourself or someone else, here’s a few tips on sorting the necessary wheat from the organic-biodegradeable-nonallergenic-biodynamic-chaff for when you are buying for a new baby.
1. It’s HOW fucking much?
If you thought a new home was a big purchase, you have not seen the list of stuff you are expected to have for a baby. If you go for new options and want to buy the items that get the best reviews, expect it to be expensive. Like, bed-wettingly so. Prams – I’m sorry, “baby travel-systems” – routinely come in at over a grand, and that wet bed may come with nearly a two thousand dollar price tag before you have even put a new mattress and sheets on it. You can easily lay out $200 on a swing to soothe your child but many babies won’t have a bar of them and you could end up with another expensive pile of junk in a room already filled with crud you barely use.
The solution? Embrace any offers of second-hand items you get and use them to evaluate what you actually want and need. Even if you do end up deciding you want something with different features you won’t have splashed a few week’s wages on something you – or the child – turn out to hate.
2. What the fuck is that?
Prepare to learn a new language. Nothing on baby-related lists gets a simple and honest description and you will end up googling the fuck out of everything to work out what the hell they were going on about.
It took me a few searches to work out that a burp cloth is just a small piece of cloth that could, more accurately, be referred to as a spew rag as you use it for mopping up vomit. Or that a cellular blanket is not to keep baby’s first phone warm but a simple breathable woven blankets for their crib and for swaddling on colder days.
Apparently I also need a receiving blanket (does it issue receipts?) and some bunny rugs. I still don’t know what a bunny rug is, and why a cellular blanket can’t do whatever it is it does, but according to several lists I need three of them. Is it an image thing? Am I expected to go out and kill rabbits so my child can lounge naked, 70’s porn star style, on their skins in front of the fire? I have no fucking clue.
3. Are you sure that’s a good fucking idea?
It can be tempting to just go mad and chuck stuff in the basket when you have a list a mile long, but it pays to have a think before you grab that item and tick it off the list. Baby shops will cheerfully sell you stuff without informing you that the products have massive drawbacks or are downright dangerous.
Some examples? Walk into any baby shop and you’ll find cute cot bumpers, baby pillows and fluffy bassinet blankets galore. What they don’t mention is most hospitals and most medical research recommend avoiding all these in early infancy due to the SIDS risk of the baby getting stuck under them.
Less deadly but with definite potential to be unpleasant is your choice of thermometer. Before purchasing, check how you are expected to operate it. You can’t use an oral thermometer on a very young child, and underarm readings take an age in addition to being unreliable, so you may be stuck with the remaining option – rectal. And – here’s a fun fact I discovered – rectal insertion of thermometers can apparently have the fun side effect of instantly causing epic-in-your-face-insta-poos which sounds like NO FUN AT ALL.
4. Do babies have fucking hooves?
A final note on buying when you have no idea what half the crap you are getting is or why you need it.
If, like us, you have been lucky enough to get lots of pre-used items from helpful friends desperate to reclaim some space in their home, have a good look through them before you do any shopping. Case in point; we were recently looking through the second-hand newborn clothes we have been gifted and found loads of what looked like oversized floppy socks. We looked at them, bemused.
“What is this shit?”
“Socks? They’re not socks?”
“They don’t look like socks. They’re kind of… big. Lots of extra space. For really big feet. Club feet? Or hooves? Do babies have hooves?*”
“…I really fucking hope not.”
* They don’t. We worked it out eventually. They were mittens.