Here are my thirty “truths” (read: non-factual opinions); the culmination of my experiences as a first time mom for the past six months. In no particular order …
- You will feel exceedingly insecure and experience bouts of overwhelming anxiety for several weeks (months). Ok, well maybe that’s an overstatement; maybe not everyone goes through this but I can certainly say that as a first time mom, it doesn’t matter how much you’ve read or what you’ve been reassured of, you just don’t know what you are facing until you are in the throes of it. Every moment, every day, every week is different and presents it’s own challenges (and triumphs). Your little one is different than the next babe and he/she sometimes doesn’t even know what’s wrong or what he/she wants … so are you supposed to?! It’s a constant work in progress, this motherhood (parenthood) thing, and – don’t get me wrong – it’s absolutely amazing. But be prepared to feel completely incompetent, unsure, and utterly helpless. I mean, really, when you think about it – a tiny human is now boss but is unable to speak, is totally new to this place called “the world” and doesn’t even understand 1% of what is going on at any given moment – and you expect him/her to direct YOU? Good luck trying to take orders from someone who hasn’t a clue what’s going on. It’s a team effort. And some days you are both running the wrong way. It is what it is!
- There is conflicting information on pretty well all of the baby-related topics out there, which ends up being incredibly confusing. My advice on this is: (1) Take everything with a grain of salt because the literature and “recommendations” seem to change every few years anyways. (2) Try different things out. (3) Do what works. (4) Trust your instinct (but don’t shoot me for saying that because you probably won’t have an “instinct” related to child-rearing for many months … I hated when people said in those first few months “trust your gut, mom knows best” … Ummm … Are you serious? I have no clue! I am as overwhelmed and helpless as my screaming baby! The only thing I feel in my gut is a sense of dread and a constant pang of hunger. It does get better. You start to feel a bit more confident and competent, especially after the first 3 months … or maybe just less afraid, throwing caution to the wind because you just need to get out of the house and you can see your fragile tiny human isn’t perhaps as fragile as you thought; he/she has survived so far, which means you can’t be doing that bad a job … right?
- Breastfeeding – while a seemingly “natural” thing – is not necessarily easy or enjoyable at the beginning (or ever, for some people). Just prepare yourself for this. I thought I was prepared, but honestly the first 4 months were so challenging. It’s not like it looks in the movies: a happy, quiet, content baby suckling from the boob, with mom smiling and rocking to a lullaby in her chair. Nope. No no no. There are blisters, there’s screaming (and I’m not just talking about mommy), there’s milk spraying, there are tears (again, baby may not be the only one exercising his/her lungs … Just sayin’). With that said, this has just been my experience. You may be one of those mom + baby combos that get’s the hang of things quickly. My little munchkin on the other hand, was a fussy babe at the boob and poor thing also had to deal with a forceful letdown and oversupply which rendered me the human equivalent of the Trevi fountain. So, essentially, she got assaulted by my milk-ejecting machine guns on many occasions. It’s kind of a miracle that she still wants to suck on my boobs at all! Anyways, I have to say breastfeeding was a more difficult and touchy topic than sleep was in those first 4 months (and as a new parent you will surely understand the magnitude of such a statement). Everyone is different and each baby is different, but you will most likely feel pressure from your friends and health professionals to breast feed … and yet experience the opposite pressure (whether it’s explicitly stated or not) to formula/bottle feed from other genuinely concerned individuals (especially when they see and experience first hand, your mental breakdown, or have plans interrupted because you are running to catch baby when she is “just waking” from a nap so you can unknowingly slip your nipple in her mouth before she fully wakes up because that’s the only time she feeds.). Just know that all the advice is well-intended and you have to decide what’s best for you in the end. I almost gave up so many times and really, looking back, would probably have been less stressed if I had bottle fed. However, I know I would have felt guilty doing so given I was blessed with a really good milk supply. I figured that it was possible my guilt may have outweighed the benefits of reduced stress, which is why I stuck with it. I’m not really sure, but I do know if the difficulties lasted beyond 4 months I would have quit breastfeeding all together. In any case, try not to be pressured or to be too hard on yourself and just do what works. This is definitely easier said than done, I know! But looking back, I completely appreciate both camps, and value everyone’s input on the subject (especially given that the people in my life had my best interest at heart). The reality is, I was formula fed and so were many people I know, and we turned out (mostly) fine. All the research about formula feeding and fat, allergy-ridden babies may have some truth … but then again, there are exceptions, there are cost-benefit analyses to look at, and there are case examples (myself included) that counter the “research.” DO WHAT WORKS.
- You will, at some point, seethe with rage at the sight and sound of your significant other (and pet, if you have one) sleeping soundly while you are up for the thirtieth time OR aren’t sleeping because you are worrying about some mundane but seemingly important baby-related thing. I don’t care how strong your relationship is, unless you are sharing the overnight shift (which in those first weeks is by far the most difficult time of the day) you will feel some resentment. I’m not saying this vexation is justifiable by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, it may be totally unfair; you may have come to a complete and whole-hearted agreement that whomever is working should get a full night sleep. Or maybe you feel it’s pointless to let your partner get up given you will just be awake the whole time anyways. Regardless of any of the rationale or the context of your specific “arrangement”, there is nothing more infuriating at 3am when you are sleep deprived to the max and trying to sooth a poopy, hungry, whiney newborn than looking at your partner and dog peacefully sleeping, an orchestra of melodic snoring, taking place a few feet away. You’ll get past it. But it’s intense.
- Just because you have successfully delivered a tiny human into the world and you came away from pregnancy scot free of stretch marks, doesn’t mean you are good to go. They can appear after labour. I know, who knew????? I certainly didn’t. The only thing I’d heard about “late” stretch marks was that some women got them the final week before baby arrived. When you think about it, though, it makes sense: After delivery when your milk “comes in” (that phrase is so ridiculous; it sounds like your local grocery store had it’s shelves restocked), your breasts will grow 46 times their previous size (maybe not but they will at least get slightly bigger). If your skin didn’t stretch when this happened, the result would undoubtedly be an explosion of gigantic proportions (seriously – milk. everywhere). In order to avoid the aforementioned mess, I’m pretty sure we were designed to have stretchy-ish skin. So, before you bring out the Moet and throw a party to cheers with your closest friends in celebration of your streak-free body and new tiny human, wait a week or so. Or … you can screw it, raise your glasses, drink up and refrain from looking in the mirror for a few months. Looking back, that might have been the best course of action. But hindsight is 20/20 …
- The amount of time, effort, energy that you put into raising your baby does not necessarily correlate with desired results. This is a tough pill to swallow, especially when you’re a type A personality or even just someone who likes to see the effects of his/her labour. Sorry to break it to you, but it doesn’t really matter how hard you work on something (i.e. napping schedule, getting your baby to crawl, etc.) the new boss in town isn’t having it. You can certainly do things to improve the likelihood of a desired outcome (e.g. setup a good sleep environment, try to learn your baby’s cues, give him/her lots of interaction and stimulation) but at the end of the day … You have very little control! This can make for some extremely frustrating and deflating days. It can also, however, provide you with an opportunity to “let go” of some of this need for control and help you to learn how to “go with it” in the sense that you try and enjoy the moments/the ride/the journey rather than constantly looking towards the outcome/destination. It has been a huge learning experience for me and continues to be.
- My personal opinion is that you should introduce the bottle within the first month, so that regardless of if you’re breast-feeding or not, you have the opportunity to LEAVE THE HOUSE! Without the baby! For more than 30 minutes! Seriously, this is a very personal opinion, and some people don’t have the desire to do so (which is totally fine) but I know for myself, it was hugely important to go out just for an hour and get away without having to worry that the little one would have a hangry meltdown and desire more than my husband’s empty breasticle. Aside from helping me keep my sanity, I also think these little outings helped my husband build his confidence with respect to taking care of an infant (and he was a natural anyway). It also helped me to start to trust other people with her (or – let’s be serious – to let go of my fear that she would scream the entire time I was away and make the other person’s life a living hell). This “getting away” also allowed me some space to feel “with myself” (an odd statement, I know, but you will get it once you are a mom). You will need a break, especially when the little one is cranky/fussy and you have been up 5+ times and gotten less than 4 hours of total sleep.
- You will become obsessed with bodily fluids, and that’s ok (or maybe it’s not, but no one’s judging). This is your new “job” and one of your tasks is to incessantly analyze everything and anything that is escaping from you and your baby. Ok, maybe not. But I can assure you, you will never spend as much time again in your life analyzing poops, pees, breast-milk (if breastfeeding), spit-up, the inside of your baby’s mouth, their bum … and on that note, you will become an expert at stain removal. Get ready … Laundry, laundry, laundry. LAUNDRY!
- Sleep is elusive and you will never again experience so many different levels of fatigue (which I now appreciate is something that is completely relative). In those early days, you will honestly feel like death. There’s no avoiding it … almost ill and in a near psychotic state (not to make light of post-partum psychosis, of course, which is a completely different and very real struggle for some women). But when you are getting less than an hour of sleep at a time and less than 5 hours total in a 24 hour period, it’s just insanity. Your hormones are already out of whack and you may find yourself bursting into tears because they don’t have cheddar cheese slices at Walmart … The sleep deprivation is almost a form of torture (and your partner may agree, because you’ll likely never have been this emotionally unstable before, even when pregnant). With all this said, it does get better. I am 6 months post-partum and am getting 5.5-6.5 hours a night, broken into 2-3 hour chunks (a few times, she’s given me 5-6 hours in a row). I actually feel good and well-rested on an average day now whereas when I was working pre-baby, I would have felt like absolute hell if I’d been up 2-3 times during the night and only had 2-3 hours in a row. I think your body adjusts. Also, I am using significantly less brain energy during the day (as evidenced by my baby talk and inability to write a simple birthday card without repeating the word “excited”) than I did while I was working. I am guessing I’ll feel worse once I return to work with a 1-year old who most likely isn’t sleeping through the night. But, moving on (who needs things to be anxious about in the future, really?)
- Onesies are made with flexible shoulders for a reason (and it’s not just so they are easier to pull over your baby’s giant lollipop of a head). When your little one has a massive, runny, poopsplosion – which goes up the back nearing the armpits, you probably won’t want to pull that mess over his/her face. And you don’t have to! The beauty of the flexible shoulders is that the onesie can be pulled down over the poop-covered torso rather than over the head. Tada! Your day (and baby’s face) just got a little less shitty. Literally.
- You will suddenly understand the purpose of bibs for babies that aren’t yet eating. I never understood why a little infant who isn’t eating solid foods yet would have a bib. Enter teething … Then you will understand. Holy drool-fest. Shirts can be soaked within mere seconds. It’s like an incredible super-power. That holds absolutely no merit (which is likely why Marvel hasn’t capitalized on the concept).
- The zippered pajama is where it’s at. Buttons/snaps are such an annoyance when you are dealing with 4-6 diaper changes a night and about 2 billion during the day (early weeks – it gets better). Your eyes are half open and you are trying not to completely wake up your baby who is in a milk coma after her 2am feed; the last thing you want to do is fuss with a bunch of snaps. It’s so much easier to have a zipper. That said, those onesies with the snaps in the crotch are good too, but we had our baby in the winter so long-legged outfits were a must. Also, I have heard that premature babies do better with snaps because the multiple tubes/wires need to be able to get through the clothing.
- You will sustain yourself on coffee and wine (or whatever happens to be your libation of choice). Now this may be an overstatement, and I risk sounding like a wired alcoholic, but I’ve had so many mommy friends agree that they’ve never drank more coffee or gone through as much wine as they did in those first 6 months. It’s not to say we are all finishing off pots in the morning and bottles in the evening… But when you’re sleep deprived and your day consists of poopy diapers and baby talk, you’ll look EXTRA forward to wine o’clock! Even on a “good” stay-at-home day, it’s nice to sit down and bond with your partner when he/she comes home and just unwind. With that said, you’ll likely be too tired and overwhelmed in those first few weeks to really enjoy a drink and if breastfeeding you’ll also have to figure out the amount of caffeine you can handle because it can make little one more fussy. As well, if you are able to nap … it can be a double-edged sword to start your day with 0.5L of coffee only to realize your golden opportunity to nap while baby naps has been shot to hell because you are bouncing off the walls. On the topic of alcohol and breastfeeding, the new recommendation is that you should only drink as much as you could handle before driving (i.e. if you are OK to drive, you are OK to breastfeed). Having said that, the first 4-6 weeks are a little more delicate in my opinion, as your milk supply is stabilizing and you are feeding like 20 times a day. I didn’t abstain from alcohol but I certainly wasn’t having a drink every day then either.
- I can almost guarantee you that you will wake up in a panic at some point, looking at that crumpled beige pillow, with an overwhelming sense of fear that you fell asleep feeding your child and have now steam-rolled her. Ok, maybe this is an over-dramatization … maybe you won’t have these specific moments of crises, but trust me you will wakeup with some sense of panic at some point because you will either (a) Have had a nightmare that you’ve lost your child or something is wrong with him/her, for example, she has turned into a lobster or is being fed into a meat-grinder (true story), (b) Wakeup because you hear crying/screaming when in fact the house is quiet, (c) Freak out because baby isn’t in her basinet (when really you moved her to the crib this week and she is sound asleep). All I’m saying is long gone are the days of waking up, rolling over, and realizing you need to pee. Your first thought will be about baby. The content of your thought may not be anxious in nature, but I can almost 100% guarantee you of the following: your night-time (and day-time) thoughts will be drastically different than your pre-baby musings.
- When you finally get out for your first date post-baby, you will talk about him/her for a good majority of the time. And you will also obsess over how he/she is doing with whoever is babysitting. Maybe I’m neurotic, but I can say with quite a bit of confidence that it is nearly impossible to just “let go” and forget about this little tiny thing that has forever changed your lives. It will get easier with each outing, and as you become more comfortable leaving him/her … But my advice would be to start working on this early on. Within the first 2 months post-partum my husband and I had gone out for a few hours and left our little one with his parents; after about 45 minutes of excited chatter, which was completely baby-related, we forced ourselves to change the subject. You will have to work hard to remember that you were a person with a life outside of baby just months ago … Seriously. You were!
- You have a new appreciation for drive-thru’s and suddenly you more fully understand their utility. Seriously, I didn’t really get drive-thru’s for non-food-related things, like the bank. I mean, why not just park and pop in? Ummmm … when you have a baby who is finally asleep in the back seat you aren’t going to want to do anything other than keep. driving. keep. moving. don’t. stop. (unless you are at risk of running a red light, hitting another car or a pedestrian or an animal. then you stop). I remember my first outing away from the house with my little one; it was a huge deal to drive 7 minutes to the nearby Tim Horton’s and get a fancy coffee and sandwich. She screamed bloody murder every time we slowed down and that drive through line-up felt like an eternity but I didn’t care because WE WERE IN THE PRIVACY OF MY CAR rather than in public. The comfort and ease of a drive-through is just … Perfect. Now they just need to make drive-thru liquor and baby stores and my life would be complete.
- You will lose a ridiculous amount of hair around 12 weeks post-partum. Honestly, it was like clock-work for me. Gross amounts of hair – serious, full-on clumps – starting coming out. I felt like Marsha from the Brady Bunch in that shower scene where she is practically balding by the second. I had to start cleaning my brush every 2nd day and was actually legitimately concerned that I would go bald! Be prepared. I’ve never had such trouble keeping the house hair-free. Heidi would have strands wrapped around her fingers everyday, and the vacuum canister was full after one use. Disgusting. So, so gross.
- Going to Subway, Walmart, or the dentist on your own is “a fun outing”. Hell, driving is relaxing. I’m not kidding.In the early days, I remember so clearly going to Walmart at 8pm, turning some tunes on for my 4 minute drive, and thinking – Wahooooooo, freedom!! I went to Subway INSIDE the Lowe’s for a 7 minute scarf-down-this-6inch and felt like I had won the lottery. I went to the dentist (she was around 4 months then) and FELL ASLEEP while I got my teeth cleaned at 7pm on a Monday night. Honestly, it’s just insane. Life has changed, significantly.
- Catnaps will be the death of you. There will be days where baby will nap for 2-3 hours in a row and days where she will nap 20-30 minutes at a time. All. Day. Long. Catnapping days are the worst, because you can’t get anything done let alone catch a breath or take a few minute rest. But it will pass, like everything else … (another “truth”). (Also, google “Witching Hour” for more information on the deadly time between 4-11pm, which may or may not be something you experience for a few days or even weeks. Fun times!)
- Not every baby loves being in the car seat (despite what you may have heard about it’s magical unicorn sleepy-dust powers). Having said that – babies change their preferences overnight. Heidi hated the car seat for the first 12 weeks or so; I remember having to put her soother in repeatedly while reaching like a bendy toy over the driver’s seat, and blaring white noise (blow-dryer sounds to be exact) while I drove across the city to drop off a baby gift. And then suddenly, she loved it and would sleep in the car! Then she hated it again for a week or so. Nothing makes “sense” and you really won’t know what works until you try it (sometimes for a second time). Just like some of my friends’ babes would only sleep while being worn/carried, held or rocked, Heidi preferred to sleep in the stroller or in her swing (and later on, in her crib). They have preferences, just like adults do.
- Baby’s first real smile (not just their sleeping/farting smile) and first real giggle/laugh make for absolutely the best moments ever. There’s seriously nothing better. Honestly, once you have a baby and he/she is able to interact with you and recognizes you, I can promise you – you will never have smiled as much in a 24-hour period in your life (unless you are at some Louis CK comedy marathon or intubated with laughing gas). I’m serious. The average adult supposedly smiles 7 times a day (which I think is actually quite generous, given that on days that I’m working from home, I really only smile when I see my husband/dog or am watching something funny on TV). This # goes up exponentially when you are in the company of a tiny human who thinks it’s hilarious when you hide behind your hand, make a weird noise, or move in a spastic way. Baby can also masterfully derive a smile from your tired, grumpy adult self when, first thing in the morning, she sees you enter the room and gives you the most authentic and incredible toothless grin (it’s honestly the best thing ever). The emotional experience of “happiness” is just beyond anything you can imagine (though, let’s be honest, you will also probably cry more than you ever have in your life in those early weeks … but the tears are likely those of physical and emotional exhaustion, not of unhappiness per se) *Note: Post-Partum Depression/Psychosis is an entirely different and very serious topic and I am not referring here to that 10-15% percent.
- You will do the most ridiculous things to make baby laugh, and sleep. Things you can’t even conceive of without having experienced first hand the absolute bliss of a laughing or sleeping baby (I didn’t use “and/or” because usually the two are mutually exclusive; I’ve yet to see a laughing, sleeping baby. In fact, I think it would be kind of creepy, don’t you?). Some prime examples of me trying to get baby to sleep are: using a blow-dryer for white noise while rocking her in a dark bathroom, propping her up with rolled towels under the crib sheet to ‘mimic’ a warm body, lying on her bedroom floor and slithering out of the room, almost unhinging the door to make sure it doesn’t creak, etc. Then there’s the “get baby to laugh” thing. Let me tell you, you will throw pride and self-consciousness to the wind! Nothing matters. Your sole purpose is to make her laugh. It doesn’t matter if you are in the privacy of your own home or the very public mall on a Saturday afternoon. I remember jumping around my kitchen like a frog and playing hide and seek as well as making ridiculously frightening sounds and expressions just so Heidi would laugh in her highchair (and not whine) while I was trying to bake. Then, I saw my husband doing his “make Heidi laugh” thang with reckless abandon at the Rideau Center Mall when we were there together, and I knew that he completely understood. I assure you, you will squeal and leap and make tooting noises, regardless of who else is around. Because it’s worth it; that gum-less giggle is what your life is about.
- They have way too many gadgets out there. Borrow and then use kijiji. You can get amazing deals on things that would normally cost upwards of $125 for as little as $20 (Exersaucer, Jolly Jumper, etc.) so don’t buy new if you can avoid it – try things first. Also, you won’t really know what your little one likes, so try to limit buying anything before he/she arrives. With that said, there are certain things that (in my opinion) are pretty much essential for the first 6 months. These include: a padded floor mat that is at least 4×4 feet (if you have hardwood/linoleum), a swing or bouncy chair of some sort, a play mat with toys/mirror dangling overhead, a carrier of some sort (see my post about baby-wearing for more info) and an Exersaucer (aka circle of neglect). Bear in mind that you can always resell things, so there’s no harm in buying second hand and reselling quickly if you realize it doesn’t work for you. On that note, make sure you look for a Facebook group in your area that is baby-specific. Ottawa has a baby-wearing group where you can borrow and trade different carriers (not to mention get advice and insight). There are also groups that specifically target For Sale or Trade baby items; there’s a plethora of people out there who have just had babies or are wanting to buy/sell/trade things that their little one lost interest in after 3.5 seconds. Take advantage.
- (If you are breastfeeding) you will forget about socially appropriate behaviors – not because you don’t care, but because you are no longer self-aware. I’ve had both my dad and my husband look at me funny when I am randomly grabbing my breasts (to check which is more full / which I should offer at the next feeding). I’ve also answered the door to firemen (who happen to be coming around to remind people to check their smoke alarms) with my top pulled up (luckily I had a tanktop underneath, so there was no free “show”). In those early days, you are feeding every 1-2 hours, so you’re practically a topless milk station … imprisoned in the four walls that you have come to know as your “home”. As the feedings space out, you will continue to have moments where you forget that breasts are a private part … because they are apparently no longer your property. It’s just not at the forefront of your mind to cover up or to refrain from touching yourself in public. It should be, but it’s not.
- Your stupidity – the absolutely dull-witted things you will do/say – will make you question the functionality of your brain. Seriously, I knew about “baby brain” but never fully fathomed the extent to which my brain would stop working. It’s seriously frightening. While it is understandable in the early days, when you are getting a few hours of sleep broken into 30-45 minute periods, it’s scary that even when your sleep gets better (e.g. 6 hours broken into two) I really can’t promise that your cognitive functioning will follow suit. Some examples of my brain farts include the following: Upon picking my dog up from the groomer, handing the dog treat to Petsmart employee rather than to my dog, putting dirty dishes in the oven rather than the dishwasher, putting a bag of dry oatmeal in the fridge rather than the cupboard, preparing my breakfast as I talk to my husband about what time we are supposed to be at his parents’ house for breakfast (that same day). I am also frequently asking questions and not listening to the answers. For example, I asked my husband 3 times in an hour what movie we were watching that night (he had already told me it was Guardians of the Galaxy). He told me later he assumed I was asking him multiple times because I was hoping for a different answer. While this would be a tactic I’d surely have used pre-baby, my repeated questioning now was simply … A consequence of the vapid space that apparently inhabits the region between my ears.
- You should (and will need to) repeat the following mantra ALL THE TIME: “Nothing is permanent, this too shall pass.” A girlfriend and fellow mom mentioned this to me in the early weeks and it stuck with me. Honestly. You will have amazing days when baby naps and is delightful and sleeps for 5-6 hours in a row at night. Then you will get all excited that this is his/her “new pattern” (you’ll brag about it and talk to yourself about it) … only to become utterly devastated when it changes. The same goes with a bad day or a bad few days. You will undoubtedly fear that this catnapping monster – who is whiney and fussy and waking up every 1-2 hours – will be this way “forever”. He/she will not. So, don’t get too excited either way. Just know that things change fast and they change all the time. As Melissa Etheridge once said … “The only thing that stays the same is change.” (On a somewhat related note, motherhood makes you superstitious. I was never really superstitious but suddenly I didn’t want to relish in any small victory, publicly (i.e. Facebook or via text) because I was sure the moment I said anything, shit would hit the fan and the seemingly awesome new “thing” would disappear forever).
- The whole “sleep when baby sleeps” is extremely annoying given most moms I know have trouble falling asleep (unlike their significant others). HOWEVER, my honest advice would be to rest when baby rests if you have had a particularly rough night. I wasn’t very good at this, and would usually load up on coffee in the morning because I felt like death, so when baby napped I was too wired. Once I picked up on this concept though, I tried to lie down during her first nap and just close my eyes .. and then load up on coffee after that! Some moms forgo coffee all together and just try to nap or rest at every daytime nap, which is probably a smart thing to do, but as previously mentioned, I’m not that smart anymore.
- Sometimes, the two absolute best times of the day are when baby wakes up and when she goes to bed! This sounds weird, because of course the in-between play and activity time is awesome, but there’s something to be said about that bright-eyed smile and babble first thing in the morning when you haven’t seen your little one in a few hours (depending on your last night-time wake-up). It’s just so wonderful and he/she is usually in a great mood first thing in the morning. There’s also something to be said about finally putting him/her down after a long day and having that time to yourself, to enjoy a glass of wine, a conversation with your partner, or a bath! Don’t get me wrong, I love my Munchita-Bear to pieces and miss her when she’s been napping for more than 1.5 hours. But I also LOVE it when she is sleeping. LOVE IT.
- The most random, not-really-that-bothersome noises are suddenly SO BLOODY loud it makes you crazy! The sound of the creaking front door opening, your husband’s heavy-healed foot steps, the lawn mower next door, the dresser drawers shutting, the dishwasher beeping, the dog shaking and her collar clanking, someone at the next table sneezing …. These are ALL THINGS that can disrupt the two most important things: (a) a nap and/or (b) a feed (if your little one is like mine, she will only nurse in a quiet, dark room because everything is apparently distracting). I can count on two hands the number of times per day that I hunch my shoulders, clench all of my upper back muscles, and whisper to myself “SHHHH! GEEZ.” You will soon learn that a napping child is … A NAPPING CHILD! Things like, “STFU” “You wake her, you take her” “SERIOUSLY, CAN YOU PUT YOUR CUTLERY DOWN ANY LOUDER?” will run through your mind (and sometimes out of your mouth) on many occasions.
- My final words of advice are as follows: the days are long but the weeks are short. Time really does fly and you can’t get a single moment back. Make sure all the while that you surround yourself with people who can get you through the tough times, but also with whom you can share the mundane details of your day … because that’s what your life is all about now. And you know what? These mundane details are the threads that will eventually unite to create the tapestry that is your child’s first year. It is an absolute blessing to be a part of it.
Becoming a first time mom has proven to be more rewarding, exhausting, invigorating, and empowering than I ever could have imagined. It has completed me in ways I never dreamed of; it has filled an emptiness I did not know existed. Yes, it can be boring and it can be draining and sometimes I feel like I’ve not accomplished a single thing compared to the days where I would pump out a medico-legal report and achieve “breakthroughs” with patients in very difficult situations, while also managing my personal to-do’s. But then I’m reminded (often by my husband) that contributing to the growth of a tiny human is pretty important stuff. I get SO much back in this exchange that we call “motherhood”; the thrill of watching our little girl learn, grow, discover herself, discover us, and the world around her … It’s just beyond anything that I can put into words. Motherhood is a different kind of “work” – especially when you have been academic or career-focused your entire adult life. And I have to say, not a day goes by that I’m not feeling immensely grateful to have gotten the job. I honestly wouldn’t trade it for anything. Ever. I am so, so fortunate.
Stay tuned for my blog post on air travel with a 2.5 month and a 7 month old infant, as well as my reviews on various carriers and feeding-related devices. I may even throw in a sewing pattern tutorial or a few baby recipes. Again, how life has changed …. Maybe I’ll eventually get back to reviewing restaurants and tourist attractions. In a few years 😉