Newborns look and act differently than we do. When new parents bring a newborn home, the experience can be rather unsettling.
Babies, especially ones born vaginally, often have cone-shaped, lopsided heads for the first few days.
The soft spots in their skulls have a disturbing “give” to them and may pulsate with the baby’s heartbeat.
The eyes may have bloody spots from labor pressure, and the cute little bundle of joy may look at the new parents cross-eyed (which is normal up to three months of age).
The lips in a nursing baby may be a gothic light gray color from the formation of sucking calluses.
About half of newborns develop a red rash that looks like a total-body case of acne called erythema toxicum.
Around half of babies will be a yellow color from newborn jaundice.
Sometimes the hands, feet and the skin around the mouth will be purple when the relatively cooler home environment slows the baby’s circulation in these areas.
Both genders of newborns may have breast enlargement from mom’s hormones still floating around in their little bodies.
Girl newborns can have white vaginal discharge and even bloody “periods” from these same hormones.
A circumcised boy’s penis will be a bloody red and yellow mess by the time he gets home.
That first night home alone with a newborn gives the parents a good chance to see how strange a new baby can behave.
He may sleep almost all the time except for when he is crying and eating.
While asleep, he may have periods of rapid and shallow breathing. Then he may not breathe for a few seconds before making the type of long gasp that dying people make in the movies.
The pattern then can keep repeating.
Eventually, however, the baby will get hungry and will awaken. This is usually announced by a blood-curdling scream that can wake up even new, exhausted parents.
Eating is a very natural act, but newborns take time to get the hang of it.
A baby may start to gulp milk as if he were dying, and then suddenly start choking and sputtering.
After eating, he may have a phlegmy rattle that sounds like Darth Vader.
Hiccupping, seemingly endlessly, might occur next.
For the grand finale, he may spit up what looks like a pint of milk in a huge gush.
The first night home with a newborn is usually the scariest.
Over time, the fear fades away.