It's fair to say that I had a lot to learn about babies when I had my first. In fact, I'd even go so far as saying that there are things I'm glad I didn't know about newborn life until I met my son. I'm the youngest in my immediate family, so I didn't grow up around, well, any babies really. I mean, yes, I have younger cousins and I can remember some of my friends with younger siblings, but I didn't really get much time with them (at least, not that I remember).
When my friends started having babies of their own, I was happy and excited and eager to see them, but those visits were usually pretty short and sweet, and didn't necessarily involve me learning how to breastfeed or how to burp an infant or even how to change a diaper. (Sorry, friends. Looking back, I realize I probably could have stepped up a bit more on those visits.)
Some of the things I figured out with my own baby were lovely and wonderful discoveries that I'm not sure I could have experienced under any other circumstances than with my own child. And, of course, some of them were, well, not. Allow me to share a few examples:
How Difficult Breastfeeding Would Be
It’s not that friends didn’t try to warn me, because they totally did. I just chose to remain blissfully optimistic, reasoning that women all over the world have been breastfeeding since forever, so it’s got to be smooth for at least some of us, right?
Spoiler alert: I still believe this, but I was not one of those women.
How My Recovery Would Go
By most definitions and as far as births go, my son’s entrance into the world was fairly smooth. That’s not to say it wasn’t extremely difficult for me (it totally was) or that I didn't feel very, very fragile for weeks afterwards (because I totally did). I actually didn't feel "normal" again for months.
How Sweet My Son’s Snuggles Would Be
Until my son arrived, I never knew the sweet, sweet bliss of having a baby sleep on you. Or, of snuggling a baby in a swaddle. Or, of letting that tiny head rest on your shoulder. I probably should have just started referring to maternity leave as “snuggle leave.” Or, technically, I suppose “snuggle and laundry leave.”
How Much Laundry Such A Tiny Person Would Require
Speaking of laundry, I think my first baby might have set some world records. For such a little guy, he went through a crazy amount of pajamas, burp cloths, wash cloths, blankets, swaddles, and nursing pillow covers. Plus, he had me going through an obscene amount of clothes, too, since walking around with spit up and baby pee on my shirt wasn’t exactly pleasant.
How Many Feelings I’d Feel
I had feelings all across the board, up to and including: happy, sad, dark, light, hopeful, afraid, confident, inadequate, and pretty much everything in between. Logically, I knew that it was normal to be hormonal (and I was careful to pay close attention to anything that may have been postpartum depression (PPD), but that doesn’t mean that the feelings weren’t all-consuming at the time.
How Perfect His Head Would Smell
I mean, I don’t want to get into a “my baby smelled better than your baby contest,” because I don’t really enjoy arguing with strangers and it would be impossible to judge without some sort of time machine. Let’s just say that my son’s head smelled like a mix of perfection, toasted marshmallows, and fresh laundry.
How Close I’d Feel With My Partner
By that point, he’d seen me give birth, get peed on, get spit-up on, and completely break down over inconsequential things. If that doesn’t bring two people together, I don’t know what does.
How Obsessed I’d Be With Footie Pajamas
Even before my son arrived, I had an inkling that footie pajamas were going to be heart-melting kryptonite for me. However, having some adorable pajamas lined up in a drawer, ready to go, is not the same thing as seeing a tiny human snuggled up in them.
If the weather allowed it, I’d have had him in footie jammies all day, everyday (and probably still would, if I’m being totally honest).
How Much I’d Crave Normalcy
It wasn’t that I wanted my “old” life, it was that I wanted to feel comfortable in my new life. It was the reason why my spouse and I would go out of our way to re-introduce silly yet meaningful rituals into our routine, like stopping for coffee with our new son so we could feel like “us.” Or, so I could feel like “me.”
How Much I Would Actually Worry About
The mind of a new mom at some ungodly hour in the middle of the night as she peers at a snoozing infant can be an intense place. It was always those middle-of-the-night fears that would strike, prompting me to Google and research to no avail. I’m hopeful that I may be a bit more relaxed when my second baby arrives in a few months, but I’m not holding my breath.
How Quickly I’d Lose Space On My Phone
Actually, wait. I do wish I’d known that. It would have saved a few tech-related headaches that no new parent needs. Which reminds me, I need to go clear some videos from 16 months ago off my phone.