6 Ways Having a Baby is Like Being a Clueless Tourist


My third child is due next month. I know that, by now, I should have a clear, crisp and complete memory of what it’s like to have a newborn. But that would assume my mind is still intact. Not only has that ship sailed, but it has gone down in an undisclosed location near the Lost City of Atlantis.

Plus, the convenience of Parental Amnesia has set in. You know, that Darwinian force that wills you to forget most of those details — so that the human race will continue to procreate and, by extension, exist beyond your lifetime. I haven’t forgotten everything, per se. To oversimplify things, I know this much about the newborn phase: It is hard but so worth it. It is stunning and unforgettable and frustrating — often overwhelming — yet it goes by so fast. Sort of like a stranger traveling abroad. Yes, having a baby is just like being a clueless tourist.

Don’t believe me?

1. You don’t speak the language. You know that feeling — wandering around in a fog, somewhere between enchanted and frustrated as hell, because you can’t understand a damn thing that’s being said. You are an outsider. You can’t communicate, despite your desperate attempts through hand gestures,  other bizarre body language, inflection and gutteral noises you feel must be universal.  No dice. Are you trying to ask a local Parisian for directions, or are you attempting to communicate, plead and reason with a newborn?

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2. You are awake at all hours of the night. After a day of excitement — the beautiful sites, the new sounds, etc. — you find yourself wide awake at, say, 3am. Maybe you visited The Great Wall and your adrenaline is pumping. Maybe you are checking out that after-hours club along the Mediterranean. Maybe you are jet lagged out of your damn mind and staring at your hotel ceiling. OR, maybe you have a newborn who thinks that party time is run by the light of the moon.

3. Everything costs a fortune. Every journey requires preparation; Clothing. Travel gear. Gadgets. And then, after months of such prep, your arrive at your destination and realize there are all kinds of must-haves indigenous to this land. Your purchase way more shit than you ever, ever needed — because you’ve developed a bizarre propensity to pay a premium on just about anything. Despite your carefully planned budget, the costs seem alarmingly disproportionate to what you considered spending at the outset of this adventure. So. Are you on an international vacation, or does a newborn live in your house?

4. The locals can be hostile. You’ve tried your best to be polite, to be a kind ambassador of your land, to have patience and manners, but the locals can just suck, right? They seem to mock you, pretend not to hear you and just not provide any helpful clues about the lay of the land. Yeah, your newborn is the same way. She’ll even spit on you and scream in your ear for hours on end. Where is the consideration, people?

5. The sites are beautiful, but it’s not easy to navigate this place. It sure is lovely here — and I’ve never seen anything quite like this — I’m so lucky to be here.  But man, this is exhausting. I wish I could enjoy it more.  I feel bad saying this, but I think I’ve had enough now. It’s time to go back to my regular life. I miss normalcy — and my bed. Exotic travel or mom to a newborn? Hard to say.

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6. You try to convince your friends to come along. Who would want to experience this alone? Why, you must convince all of your like-minded girlfriends to join you. I know, I know — it’s a big trip. But it will be fun! Of course we’ll stay on budget!  I’ve researched everything!  You only live once!  You’ll soooo regret it if you don’t! And why not do it together?! {Subtitle:  I’m scared shitless to do this on my own and I’m taking you down with me}. Girls’ getaway this summer, or group trip to Labor & Delivery?

And here I thought that my next exotic trip was painstakingly far into the future. Not at all!  But, really, who wants to come with me? Because it’s still scary the third time.

And where the hell is my tour guide?

Related post: At Least 70% Of Being A Parent Sucks

About the writer

Kim Forde writes about the art of perfecting domestic failure on her blog, The Fordeville Diaries. A former NYC resident, she is now a secret suburban convert at home with her three young kids, managing her Starbucks addiction and healthy fear of craft stores. Kim has written for a variety of parenting and humor blogs, and was twice named a Humor Voice of the Year by BlogHer. She has also contributed to several humor anthologies, including the best-selling “I Just Want to Pee Alone,” and appeared in the New York City production of “Listen to Your Mother.” You can follow her sleep-deprived musings on Facebook and Twitter.


Fadzlyana Ibrahim 2 years ago

Harhar…can I just keep it in my womb forever…

Jennifer Clark Jones 2 years ago

Totally agree, when my last kid was born last year, after I brought him home I had a case of the momnesia and forgot I had to burp him this was hours of figuring out why he was screaming! I totally thought I had this down before, right? Lol. :)

Burt Onikama 2 years ago

Starts again when you have grandchildren!

Ashley Acton Jimenez 2 years ago

Cute analogies :)

Gail Cearfoss Connors 2 years ago

Had my third in February. It’s like I’m new here.

shama-mama 3 years ago

How can one child be the same as the next? Its like expecting a trip to Paris to be the same as a trip to Kansas City! I have 3 kids, and they are all so different and not just as a newborn, just as a person. Just when i think i’ve got something figured out, the next one changes things up on me!

Rebecca 3 years ago

I totally relate! My third is due in April and everyone thinks I should be a pro by now. Well I’m sure it’ll be easier than my first but I’m totally freaked out still. My youngest daughter is 5 so I’ve had 5 years to mentally block out the sleepless nights.

Jessica Smock 3 years ago

Great comparison! I’m a terrible traveler. I like the familiar, and all the logistical coordination and stress of planning schedules around uncontrollable variables makes me crazy. And that is just like having an infant. And, just like a good traveler, you have to learn to let go. Just like when you’re traveling, you can have everything planned perfectly: flight times, transportation to the airport, etc. And then one storm can throw off months of planning. Just like as a mom I can plan a “perfect” day: meal times, nap time, play date, work time for me. And my son can refuse to take a nap or get overtired, or wake up early, whatever… And the whole day is chaos!

Deanna 3 years ago

This is a wonderful read.

Tobi 3 years ago

I just had my fifth and I still forgot stuff…. Like you don’t really need pristine white bumper pads in the crib …. My mom thought they were yellow :( hell you can get away without even getting a crib… Whip out the playpen.. Have you seen the new ones …whoa fancy they even come with a built in change table…yessssss!

    kim @the fordeville diaries 3 years ago

    As far as I’m concerned, after your fifth, you can forget anything you like. I’m impressed if you get a shirt on and leave your house every day!

Meredith 3 years ago

This perspective of it being an exotic trip is perfect! Would have seen me through some of those precious nights of early motherhood–especially if I could have had my girlfriends along for the ride 😉

    kim @the fordeville diaries 3 years ago

    Misery loves company, right?
    I mean, kumbaya :)

Rose 3 years ago

My 3rd will be here in a few weeks, and no one believes I’ve totally went blank on what I’m supposed to do with him all day. At this point Im pretty alarmed and hope it comes back to me in a flash after he exits my body, that can happen right?!

    kim @the fordeville diaries 3 years ago

    I’m banking on the same thing! Let me know — good luck!

Natasha 3 years ago

This is SO true! I’m trying to find my favorite, but all of them are so on point that I can’t choose just one. Great post!

    kim @the fordeville diaries 3 years ago

    Thank you Natasha. I wish some of them weren’t entirely true 😉

Jenny 3 years ago

This is exactly how I felt about my firstborn. I mean, exactly. I always used to say I felt like I’d been dropped into a foreign country where I didn’t speak the language, didn’t know a soul, and didn’t have a map. Especially if it’s your first, and especially if you haven’t been around babies much in life, it’s really a perfect metaphor. Love this!

    kim @the fordeville diaries 3 years ago

    If only we could incorporate the drinking quotient of a study abroad program. Oh, to be wholly irresponsible again…

Victoria KP 3 years ago

You’re absolutely right on the money!

    kim @the fordeville diaries 3 years ago

    Thank you. The question is which currency do I use?

Deanna 3 years ago

I have found that the 3rd 4th and I assume (!!) so on just kind of blend right in. My 3rd was so easy we decided to have a 4th (DO NOT FALL INTO THAT TRAP!!! #4 is a raving lunitic…but OH so much fun!!)

    kim @the fordeville diaries 3 years ago

    OMG I WON’T FALL INTO THAT TRAP. I think. Right? {Gulp}.

Hannah 3 years ago

Great post! Also, based on a trip I once took to Mexico, you might also add: Violently sob as you ask god how so much poop can come out of one person.

    jen 3 years ago

    Bahahahaha! Perfect comparison to add.

    kim @the fordeville diaries 3 years ago

    Ha — great addition!!

Rebecca 3 years ago

Well put. Love it Kim!

    kim @the fordeville diaries 3 years ago

    Thank you!

HouseTalkN 3 years ago

So funny, Kim! Having a newborn is a wild ride every stinkin’ time. Shouldn’t we get a hall pass after the first one?

    kim @the fordeville diaries 3 years ago

    A hall pass would be great. Or diplomatic immunity 😉

Hollow tree ventures 3 years ago

You’ve really struck upon a new take on this mommying gig – never saw this angle, but so true!

    kim @the fordeville diaries 3 years ago

    Thanks. I realized I forgot to add that the shower situation is also less than ideal in both scenarios.

Glamamom 3 years ago

Hilarious Kim. As someone who hasn’t slept in 5 months (3.5 years really), I see exactly what you mean.

    kim @the fordeville diaries 3 years ago

    Now you know you are just perpetually jet lagged. Doesn’t that sound more exotic than sleep-deprived?

      Terra F 2 years ago

      That’s it. My 9 month old has me in a permanent state of jet lag. But seriously. It’s exhausting…

Amanda 3 years ago

Fantastic and so, so true!

    kim @the fordeville diaries 3 years ago

    Thanks Amanda!

Anna 3 years ago

so, so funny. and honestly, newborns sounds much more glamorous when viewed as just an exciting mode of foreign travel that can be enjoyed from my very own home. congrats and enjoy number 3, and here’s hoping they are a quiet, mom-friendly destination!

    kim @the fordeville diaries 3 years ago

    Thanks Anna! As for the glamorous newborn, isn’t that a myth captured only for a fleeting moment by professional photographers?

MILF Runner 3 years ago

I found the third time to be so familiar! I’m sure you’ll navigate your way around the “strangeness” with ease and grace :)

    kim @the fordeville diaries 3 years ago

    I’m so hoping you’re right! Because my international diplomacy skills are drained from mediating the arguments between the two kids I already have :)

Kathy at kissing the frog 3 years ago

Perfect comparison! I love it. And I’d be down for a group trip to labor and delivery. Would have made the time go lots faster!!

    kim @the fordeville diaries 3 years ago

    Thanks Kathy.
    I’ll send you directions to my L&D — we can do manicures in between my contractions :)

Teri 3 years ago

Fantastic! Awesome post, Kim!

    kim @the fordeville diaries 3 years ago

    Thanks Teri!

Ashley 3 years ago

This is such a great way of putting it. Never saw it in that light. Thanks.

    kim @the fordeville diaries 3 years ago

    Thanks Ashley. I think my unrealized wanderlust has gotten the better of me :)

      Rebeccah 3 years ago

      Oh gosh – the unrealized wanderlust. It’s the absolute worst. I fantasize about travel pretty much constantly. Like super off the grid travel, like the Mongolian desert. Sigh.

Ninja Mom 3 years ago

Smart bit! Great line: “I feel bad saying this, but I think I’ve had enough now.”

    kim @the fordeville diaries 3 years ago

    Sad but true, right?

motherhoodisanart 3 years ago

My trip was filled with a lot of layovers! Great post!

    kim @the fordeville diaries 3 years ago

    Ha, yes — the layovers! Or detours. Or roadblocks. Or getting totally lost…

Carrie 3 years ago

I’ve never thought of it that way, but you are SPOT on. Love this piece. :)

    kim @the fordeville diaries 3 years ago

    Thanks Carrie. Now we can never say that infants keep us tied down to our house anymore 😉

Kim 3 years ago

I love this so much – it’s SO SO SO true!!!!

    kim @the fordeville diaries 3 years ago

    Thanks Kim — have you seen my passport, btw?


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