What to REALLY Expect When You’re Expecting: The Straight Dope

Quite soon, my stepson and his wife are expecting their first baby. (Spoiler alert: It’s either a girl or a boy.)

I’m so over-the-moon excited for them.

It harkens me back to the days leading up to the arrival of my first son more than 20 years ago. It was a time filled with excitement and anxiety.

To help Garth and Krista prepare for their new arrival, I offer this collection of advice that I call “What to REALLY to Expect When You’re Expecting: The Straight Dope.”

Lesson No. 1: It’s very important that you come up with a name for the baby but here is one way NOT to handle it:

My then-wife and I were returning from a party in New Jersey and had about a two-hour car ride home. She was in her first trimester and, um, a little cranky.

I cheerfully (read: blissfully stupidly) suggested we spend the two hours going through the alphabet to explore names, like “A is for Adam, Anthony, etc.”

This went relatively smoothly until we were just about to pull into the driveway. We were near the end of our name search and I was pressing for possible suggestions for the letter “Z”: Zachary, Zachariah, etc.

At this point, she was having none of it.

She wheeled on me Linda Blair “Exorcist”-style and growled: “Why don’t we just name him a****** after the father?!”

Lesson No. 2: I recall Garth’s mother, my late fiancée, telling me of a panicked phone call she made to the doctor’s office when she was convinced that Garth was hemorrhaging internally because she changed a diaper filled with purple poop.

Diagnosis: She had fed him blueberries.

Lesson No. 3: Do not be fooled by an infant’s size. The amount of poop that a baby can produce and propel with ferocity defies laws of physics. Those cute onesies or pajamas with feet? They are merely vessels for containing the discharge, which you will find up the baby’s back, down his legs –- pretty much everywhere.

Lesson No. 4: It cannot be emphasized enough the amount of sleep deprivation that comes with having a newborn.

I say this with authority because we filled an entire hard-covered marble notebook after our first son was born. In it, we chronicled every burp, nap, diaper change, feeding, bath, etc.

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Among the notable entries was this one from 3:15 a.m. on July 4, 1993 – when Michael was not quite a month old:

“Mommy sleeps…Daddy thinks he hears weird noises downstairs. Michael bravely goes with Daddy. They find nothing. All secure. 3:45 a.m. back to sleep.”

New entry: “And the hallucinations continue, with Daddy thinking he saw a moth in the room.”

(I had taken the notebook, swatting at this “moth,” and pirouetted around the room until I got so dizzy, I fell.)

New entry, this one in the handwriting of Michael’s mother:

“Poor Daddy, he scared Mommy when she woke up and saw him on the floor (I thought he had Michael in his arms.) Thank goodness he did not! By the way, we never did find the moth…”

The lessons here: Beware of blueberries. And phantom moths.