Parenting: I Was Totally Unprepared

 I was totally unprepared when they sent him home with me.

Don't they come with an instruction manualI wasn’t exactly stupid when it came to the care of small humans, but I did not prepare myself for parenting an infant. I used to babysit with one of my teacher’s children when she was only nine months old. I would show up at their house as they were ready to leave to go out to dinner. They’d show me where the bottle was and hand me a can of green giant green beans and a can opener. I was told to give her the green beans for dinner.

I was bright enough to know that cold, out-of-the-can green beans shouldn’t be the first choice for dinner for a child as small as this one was. I started saving my money from babysitting her, and I went to the store to buy baby food in jars like all the other moms I knew fed their kids. I’d carefully hide the empty jars in my purse and leave the empty can of green beans on the counter so they’d know I’d dispensed with them. They didn’t have a garbage disposal, so I flushed them down the toilet!

Behind every incredible kidThere were a few things I knew when I brought my new son home.

  • I knew how to change a diaper…I had no clue the poop would be green (Pardon me for a few minutes, I think I’m going to be sick again.
  • I knew how to dress my dolls…It didn’t matter how far I had to twist their arms to get them in the tiny, wee clothes.
  • I knew how to prepare the formula. (They gave me written instructions and two cans of concentrate.) I didn’t know the baby’s delivery would be so difficult I’d require 54 stitches, or that this new mother would suffer second-degree burns from a dysfunctional Seitz bath. I wouldn’t be able to stand up long enough to prepare it.
  • I knew they woke up in the middle of the night for a bottle…I had no idea what the term colicky meant or that this child would wake up every two hours
  • I knew I had to burp him after a bottle, but he wouldn’t do it for me. He decided to wait until his daddy got home each and every day. Until the magical burp, he screamed in agony throughout the day.

I’m pleased to report I didn’t kill the child.

Nor did I kill the next one.

Parenting is largely a game
Parenting may be the most frightening thing you ever do.

What saved me? Mom saved me. She showed up in all her manic glory to help me every day for the first two weeks of my first-born’s life and taught me everything she knew about parenting an infant.

What I’ve discovered is there is no real rule book for this stuff. You learn as you go along and try your darnedest not to damage them too badly during each stage of their lives.

Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t immediately feel everlasting love for the child the first moment they hand him/her to you. Sometimes it doesn’t work that way, regardless of what others say. What I can guarantee is that your love will immediately blossom as you hold your new baby in your arms and will become bigger than the entire state of Texas within the first hour.

As far as your other questions when you’re unprepared for parenting:

  • Yes, you should be scared. You are capable of hurting them if you don’t figure out what you’re doing pretty quickly.
  • If your mom’s not around, make sure you have a friend, neighbor, sister, cousin, aunt, or grandmother who can come to help the first few days. They’ve done this before and will quickly put your fears to rest as you realize your gut instinct was right all along.
  • Yes, breastfeeding is best, but sometimes medical problems prevent you from being able to do that.
  • No, a preemie isn’t going to get as much milk as a full-term baby. They get tired too quickly and fall asleep. You’ll need to feed them more frequently. First, go to the store and ask where the “Preemie” nipples for the bottles are. They are much easier to suck on for the wee tiny ones and will provide you with more sleep. I didn’t know this until my 2nd child was four months old. I had to quit my job with the diagnosis of “complete physical exhaustion.” Within 24 hours the baby started sleeping 4 hours at a time instead of two.
  • As much as you want to throw away those maternity clothes, keep them around for a few years. Pregnancy is known to happen again.
Parenting is a skill you acquire. Nothing prepares you for it other than jumping in with both feet.
Parenting is a skill you acquire. Nothing prepares you for it other than jumping in with both feet.

Your Parenting Skills Will Evolve

The list could go on and on, but you get the idea. In spite of all the crap you don’t get right or how unprepared and incompetent you feel, you will get enough right in your parenting attempt to watch them grow and flourish.

No, there’s not an owner’s manual to direct your parenting through the next 18 years. Sit back and enjoy the ride. Count your blessings the children are such a huge part of your heart and soul. Rejoice in being rather awesome even though you were totally unprepared. I hope this article brings you a little hope and peace of mind.

Please use the comments below to share what your biggest obstacle was with a newborn.

Author: Peggy McAloon –

Be Safe. Be Loved. Pass It On!

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