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Stare at the carseat and ask “now what?”

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If that moment when the nurse tells you that you can take your brand new baby home is bewildering!”Isn’t there a test?”, you want to say. It has nothing on how you feel when you get home, though. You place the carseat – baby still safely strapped inside – in the middle of the living floor, look at your partner and ask, “What now?”.

Take the parenting books literally

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When you first find out you’re pregnant, you almost certainly rush out and buy every pregnancy and baby care book you can lay your hands on. You read them and you take them literally, very literally – and you continue taking them literally even when your newborn makes it perfectly plain she’s nothing like any of the babies you’ve so diligently learned about…

Rock even when your arms are empty

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Learning to soothe a fractious or tired baby by rocking them in your arms is an essential skill for any parent. In fact, it quickly becomes so engrained that you find yourself doing it even when you’re not holding the baby. Worse, this is a habit that can continue for years – at least until your grade-schooler is old enough to ask what on earth you’re doing!

Find yourself unable to sleep because the baby’s sleeping

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Everyone tells you to “sleep when the baby’s sleeping”. Perhaps you try to take this advice, or perhaps you don’t because, you know, you’d quite like to eat or take a shower. However, if you have a bad sleeper, there’s definitely at least one occasion when you can’t sleep because your little screamer is asleep… and so you’re worried there’s something wrong.

Buy and fill in a baby book

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Many of us buy keepsake memory books to record all our baby’s “firsts”. And, when it comes to first babies, those books are carefully filled in, no matter how tired we are. However, our resolve falters when it comes to second and subsequent babies. Frankly, they’re lucky if we even buy a baby book in the first place – never mind fill it in.

Take a co-worker’s hand when crossing the road

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When you have small children, holding hands when crossing the road becomes second nature. Unfortunately, it often becomes such an engrained habit that many parents of young kids find themselves holding out a hand to a co-worker (or other bemused adult) and saying, “hold hands before we cross”.

Point out tractors when alone in the car

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In-car entertainment for babies and small children usually rotates between singing and pointing out things of interest outside the vehicle. Tractors and fire engines are favorites. In fact, they’re such favourites that you’re pretty much guaranteed to have caught yourself pointing out the big green John Deere or the “nee naw” to your empty back seat.

Speed eating

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Forget leisurely meals, with time not only to chew each mouthful but also to chat with your table companion or consider whether you want seconds. Once you’re a parent of a baby, meals are taken against the clock. If you’re not racing to finish before the baby wakes, you’re racing to finish in time to put the baby down for a nap…

Wake the baby to check she’s still breathing

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It’s a classic sign of new parenthood: after all those nights when you begged and pleaded with your wailing, uncomprehending infant to please, please, go to sleep, the night that they actually do so, you worry. You worry so much that you lean over the cot to check that they’re still breathing, perhaps putting a hand near their face… and in doing so, of course, you wake them up.

Forget who you are

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Before you had a baby, you knew exactly who you were. Name, age, address, occupation, future plans, everything. After having a baby? Well, not so much. It’s as if the experience of pregnancy and childbirth – or of watching your other half go through it – and the immediate immersion into endless feed, poop, sleep (or not) cycles takes up all the room in your head.

Argue with your partner about who’s more tired

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3 a.m is no time for sane conversations. Unfortunately, it’s the classic time for a new mom and dad to have a “discussion” about who’s more tired and, thus, whose turn it is to deal with their wakeful baby. Playing Tiredness Top Trumps really isn’t any fun but, boy, you’ll do it anyway.

Buy impractical baby clothes

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You might be very well aware that a new baby doesn’t need much more than sleep suits and vests but you still go right out and buy a whole pile of impractical outfits. Dinky sneakers, little pairs of jeans, tiny baseball caps, pouffy dresses, the precise pieces vary according to parental taste. However, they have one unifying factor: none is ideally suited to a small person whose primary occupations are lying down, eating and pooping.

Refer to yourself as “mom”

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You probably cringed when a medical professional first called you “Mom” instead of using your name. However, soon enough you started using the name yourself – to refer to yourself. If you’re lucky, you manage to restrict its use to situations directly involving your child. If you’re not, expect your friends, family and co-workers to look at you as if you’re mad.

Cry over everything

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The first few days after giving birth are a hormonal roller coaster for most women. Yes, you’ve just birthed the most beautiful baby ever – and isn’t that a glorious thing?! However, it’s also a terrifying thing. Sometimes, you feel as though you’re absolutely not up to the job of taking care of this tiny, fragile, precious being – and, so, cue tears.

Turn a spoon into an airplane

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Whether you promised yourself you wouldn’t or not, we bet that, like every parent, you’ve turned a spoon into an airplane at least once in an effort to trick a reluctant small child into eating. And, if it wasn’t an airplane, it was a train going into the tunnel.

Call your partner “Daddy”

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There’s something about becoming a parent that infantilises many of your relationships – not least the one with your partner. Hopefully, however, you’re able to dial back calling him “Daddy”, especially in front of others, and restrict it to those occasions when you’re directly speaking to your child.

Eat your kids’ leftovers

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It’s obviously not something a new parent does but it almost certainly lies in their fairly near future. As anyone who’s ever had the “pleasure” of cooking for small children will tell you, the waste (when they reject yet another meal) can seem overwhelming. Almost inevitably, you’ll end up eating their leftovers.

“Enjoy” cold tea

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Hot drinks are one of the first of life’s little pleasures to go by the wayside when you have a baby. Quite aside from the fear of dousing your newborn in hot tea or coffee, chances are that your baby will time their poonamis or colicky crying to coincide with the moment you’re lifting a hot drink to your lips.

Fall asleep anywhere

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Pre-baby, you might sometimes have struggled to fall asleep. Post-baby, you’re so tired you think you could probably fall asleep standing up. Trains, planes, the dining table, a dull work meeting, a lengthy phone call, during a movie you really wanted to see… you name it, you’ve fallen asleep in it.

Make a goldfish face when spoon-feeding

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As if turning a perfectly innocuous spoon into an airplane or train wasn’t bad enough, spoon-feeding a small child also seems to necessitate a little mime-artistry. You might not have realised but, chances are, when delivering that spoonful to your child’s open mouth, your mouth is imitating – goldfish-like – the shape you want hers to be making.

Mix up objects

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After you’ve had a baby, using everyday objects for the purposes for which they’re intended becomes incomprehensibly difficult. For instance, you might find yourself picking up the TV remote control when your cell phone rings or trying to use your gym card instead of your travel card when catching the train to work.

Catch vomit in your hands

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Things that, pre-baby, would have seemed unimaginably gross become almost humdrum once you’ve made the leap into parenthood. For parents of older children, this probably includes dealing with head lice and threadworms. For newer parents of very small children, however, catching vomit in your hands is a classic.

Refer to the dog as your baby’s brother

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Your desire to ensure that your dog – who is, after all, your first baby – accepts your newborn frequently assumes slightly bizarre proportions. Pre-birth, you probably downloaded crying baby sounds to play to your pooch. Meanwhile, post-birth, you most likely refer to your dog as your baby’s big brother as if this will, somehow, cement their relationship.

Wipe baby wee off your face

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If you’re the new parent of a baby boy, you’re a very lucky parent if you make it through potty training without finding yourself wiping baby wee off your face at least once. This is down to two factors: a design fault in baby boys, which allows them to pee upwards, into the face of whoever is changing their diaper, and your own poor timing when it comes to those diaper changes.

Eat cookie crumbs from out of your cleavage

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The enhanced cleavage that generally accompanies pregnancy and the post-birth breastfeeding period is a boon to some and an annoyance (and discomfort!) to others. However, regardless of how you feel about your new assets, you’re bound to find yourself picking cookie crumbs out of your cleavage at least once – and, sad to say, eating them.

Pack for a Himalayan expedition

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You’re not actually going trekking in the Himalayas. You’re really just taking your baby to the grocery store or perhaps to meet another mom for coffee. However, you’ll pack your diaper bag with more stuff than seasoned adventurers take to the Himalayas…

Call the pediatrician for every little thing

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It’s normal to be a little anxious as a new parent. After all, you’re in uncharted territory and the responsibility seems huge. As a result, you undoubtedly find yourself calling the pediatricians office to report all kinds of concerns, even when they do turn out to be nothing more than a case of baby boogers.

Pull a baby sock out of your purse

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Pulling a small baby sock out of your purse instead of a pen isn’t the most embarrassing thing you can do, especially when you consider the rest of this list. It is, however, an absolutely classic marker of someone who’s a recent new parent and is still learning how to accommodate that, battling through baby brain.

Wear baby spit-up like it’s a brooch

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Accessorising can seem unnecessarily labor-intensive when you’re wrangling a baby. Luckily, that’s where baby spit comes in. With the right sort of reflux-y baby, you’ll find all your outfits routinely accessorized with a streak of baby spit-up on the shoulder.

Stop watching the news

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Although the post-birth “baby blues” subside within a few days, you probably still find yourself experiencing heightened emotional reactions – whether that’s through hormonal shifts, lack of sleep or a combination of the two. At the very least, there’s a good chance you stop watching the news for a while because it’s simply too upsetting to bear.

Scoop poo out of the bathtub

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If you have a regular bathtub pooper, you’ve probably contemplated using swim nappies to reduce the number of occasions you find yourself fishing small brown logs out of the water. It’s not a nice experience but it is at least a pretty universal one, if that’s of any comfort.

Wake in a panic thinking you’ve lost the baby

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Even if you don’t co-sleep, as a parent of a young baby, you’ll wake in a panic at least once. Patting the sheets in the dark, and sweating heavily, you’ll frantically try to find the baby that you’re sure has slipped down under the covers. Luckily, after a few moments, reality asserts itself and you remember that the baby is asleep in their crib.

Suck a pacifier clean

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Even very young – and hence fairly immobile – babies lose their pacifiers with irritating ease. You might end up clipping the pacifier to your baby’s clothes but until you do that, you’ll need either an inexhaustible supply of clean pacifiers or, more likely, a belief that a quick suck yourself will suffice as a cleaning method.

Consider duct-taping a diaper

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Everyone has their favorite methods of dealing with a poonami. None of them work, of course – and you only realise this long after potty training is complete. However, when you’re still in the thick of it you will, at some point, look at a roll of duct tape and give serious consideration to using it to seal off all possible exit routes from your baby’s diaper.

Feel surprised that you still look pregnant after giving birth

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Although, intellectually, you might appreciate that only three kilos or so of your pregnancy weight gain is baby, it still comes as a surprise when you continue to look pregnant after giving birth. Even when your uterus has contracted to its pre-pregnant size (which takes six to eight weeks), your belly still looks different – and that perplexes you.

Leave home while wearing odd shoes

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The effect of parenting very small children frequently extends to an inability to match up your own clothes. If you’re lucky, you realise you’re wearing odd socks in the office one day. If you’re not so lucky, you realise you’re wearing mismatching shoes – and possibly ones with different heel heights. Oopsie!

Go down a Dr Google rabbit hole at 3 a.m.

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As we’ve already mentioned, 3 a.m. is a kind of baby witching hour. Everything seems worse, scarier and generally more hopeless at 3 a.m. Hence, it’s a classic hour for some intensive Dr Googling. Everything that could possibly go wrong with your baby (and probably with yourself too) is available online for your perusal during those 3 a.m. sessions.

Enrol in every available baby class

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If you haven’t enrolled your newborn in baby massage, baby yoga, baby swimming, baby storytime and baby singalong by the time they’re two weeks old, what’s wrong with you? Are you even a proper new parent! Fortunately for their sanity and their bank balances, most parents calm down and dial back the activities to just one or two – and preferably the ones with the best coffee.

Sterilize everything

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Everything is a possible health hazard when it concerns your precious firstborn. Hence, you buy the biggest, best sterilizer you can afford and you sterilize anything that comes within a country mile of your baby. And woe betide anyone who suggests that a little dirt is good for the immune system!

Tiptoe around the house when baby is sleeping

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Getting a screaming young baby to sleep can feel like an Olympic medal-worthy achievement. As a result, it’s no surprise that you and your partner probably do everything in your power to keep the baby asleep once you get her there. You’ll switch the subtitles on the TV, speak in a whisper and tiptoe around the house. But will you do that for your second baby? Of course not!