Q&A: new baby

Not exactly a question, this is more of a statement & answer today.

Erin, who has a 4-day-old baby, writes:

"This is hard work."

Yes. Yes, it is.

And it's not even the work part of it that makes it hard work. It's the unrelenting nature of it. It's just constant tasks, with the feeding and the diaper changing and the shushing and the holding and the rocking and the burping and the sleeping and the waking.

And the worry! Every single thing at this stage in high stakes. If a feeding goes badly, you worry. Of course the baby isn't sleeping at night yet, and you worry about that. You worry if the baby doesn't burp. If the baby burps too much. If the baby takes a pacifier you worry, and if he doesn't you worry about that, too.

It's really just a whole lot of emotion, combined with physical effort.

In addition, your body is healing from the pregnancy and birth. Your organs are going back into place. You're recovering from the marathon of labor and delivery. You might be recovering from a c-section or that E word I'm not even going to say. You're dehydrated and hungry, but can't seem to find the time to feed yourself or get a glass of water.

People are telling you what to do right and left, and you haven't had enough time to get to know your baby enough to trust your instincts yet.

Your whole life is different, and insane, and you wonder what exactly you've done.

It's a little bit like being Gregor Samsa and waking up one morning to find you've turned into a cockroach. Except that you also have this crying little person with you that you love fiercely but don't know very well yet.

It's like sticking your head in a blender.

Now for the good news: We've all been there. We've all survived. It sucks, but you will make it through.

My advice is to lower your standards. If you and the baby are alive at the end of the day, you're doing a great job. Instead of trying to do things the "right" way, pay attention to what seems to work best with your baby. And ignore most of the advice you get* from people. If they're not willing to come take a turn at 3 am, they don't get a say in what you do.

Now, readers! Please leave comments either of support for Erin and all other new parents, or tell us the most ridiculous piece of advice someone gave you in the early early days.

* Even mine, if it doesn't make sense with your kid or family. I know--I don't always know what I'm talking about! Shocking.