Allow me to offer a heartfelt greeting to all readers, but especially those of you who are in the parenting trenches. And by “parenting trenches,” I mean the days that are just one thing you don’t want to do after another, most of which involve some sort of bodily fluid. For the record, babies are absolute miracles, but that doesn’t mean every aspect of caring for them is pleasant. There are simply things no new mom actually likes doing, but that are required of us.
My son is nearly 3, and I currently have another baby on the way, so though his newborn days are behind us, I’m finding myself reflecting on them rather frequently as we prepare for his sibling. Unlike before, I have a sense of what to expect now. In fact, we just got out all his baby clothes and sorted through the ones we’ll be passing down, and it brought on all the feels. How was he ever that small? How was he ever that dependent on me and his dad? How did he stain so many onesies? How did we get through it?
I suspect that knowing the newborn period is a short one, and recognizing that we weren’t alone in the struggle, had something to do with our ability to get through the "parenting trenches" when it felt almost impossible. Still, that didn’t necessarily mean that any of the following tasks were pleasant:
Being Woken Up To Feed The Baby
I tried to tell myself that having a healthy baby that needed night feedings was a gift (because it is). However, I wasn’t the best at thinking rationally about at various hours of the night and early morning. In those moments, I just blinked at the clock in disbelief.
Getting Spit, Peed, Or Pooped On
It’s par for the course for all new parents, but still, I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the gross parts of having a new baby. They may come with the territory, but that doesn’t mean they're pleasant. I suppose, though, if we’re going to dig for a bright side, the grossness made me a slightly less squeamish overall, which is now helping with potty training. So, you know, at least I have that going for me.
Emptying The Diaper Bin
No, no, no, a thousand times no. The memories of the open diaper bin smell practically makes me shudder. I’m not even sure we’re going to use a diaper bin with this next baby. Instead, it's looking like we might just say no to disposable diapers altogether, and rinse cloth diapers as we go.
Dealing With Childbirth Recovery
Actually, I need to put a caveat with this one. Taking time for one’s own recovery wouldn’t be the worst thing if it could be done on its own. However, because the aches and pains are coming alongside every baby need, it compounds the struggle.
Trying To Get Somewhere, Anywhere, On Time
Trying to leave the house with a newborn feels like something out of a sitcom. You're bound to experience more than a few forgotten necessities, spills, stumbles, last-minute diaper changes, more diaper changes, clothing changes, and, if you’re anything like my family, dorky phrases uttered when we realize how late we are.
The Extra Laundry
How can something that tiny make so many messes? At least their clothes are small so you can fit like three million pairs of pajamas and eight thousand burp cloths in a load. It’s necessary, really.
Changing Dirty Onesies
Speaking of clothes, removing them after a diaper explosion is the worst. I’ve known moms who simply cut them off with scissors instead of trying to navigate them over the baby’s head, or pull them down off the shoulders. I suppose, for me, this would depend on how bad the mess is (and how much I like the onesie), but I wouldn’t totally rule out the scissors.
All The Doubt
I’ve officially been at this parenting thing for almost three years now, and I still have doubts about my abilities on a regular basis. However, I’ve come a long way since those early days, when I rarely did anything without my partner’s, my doctor’s, my mom’s and anonymous internet commenters’ reassurance that it was, in fact, the correct thing to do.
Researching Symptoms (And Reacting To Them)
I mean, I am thankful that I live in an era where I can research literally any topic at literally any time of day, without leaving my baby’s side. However, that doesn’t also mean that Google isn’t also the worst thing ever invented and that the horrible rabbit holes it provides aren’t horribly stressful and frightening.
Managing The Constant Fears
In my case, “fears” often meant “thinking about all the things that could go wrong and ways that the world is terrible.” Thankfully, the tiny baby who’s at the root of my nervousness was also adorable and snuggly, so that did help a little bit. There’s a reason we’re having a second. This stuff is hard, but it’s also so, so worth it.