It’s true what they say; bringing home a baby can be a magical, life-changing experience. It can also be one of the hottest messes of your entire life. If your experience is anything like mine, it’ll be a little bit of both. Thankfully, most of my friends and loved ones were sympathetic to the insanity we were experiencing and totally understanding. I quickly learned that there are things you get away with when you have a baby that, under most circumstances, would probably raise a few eyebrows (or sound a few alarms).
I can laugh about many of these now, but at the time they didn’t exactly seem funny. I mean some things were, like the mismatched maternity pants and pajama shirts I passed off as clothes, but for the most part it all felt mostly it felt dire. The health and well-being of this tiny new person depended on me getting my act together, and something as simple as "getting my act together" felt insurmountable thanks to sleep deprivation, postpartum recovery, and unrelenting exhaustion.
I don’t remember any key moments or big milestones where things finally seemed to click but slowly, over time, my partner and I got the hang of things. Still, I’m thankful to the people in our various circles for being so understanding and accommodating as we got our lives back in order, and for allowing us to get away with the following:
Bringing Your Baby Everywhere
It’s partially out of necessity, yes, but there’s that (all-too-short, I discovered) stage of parenting where you can bring your baby with you wherever you go. Before too long they'll start attempting to squirm and move and walk and talk, and outings will become nothing short of taxing. In the beginning, however, they’re essentially an extension of you. That's the best.
Staying Home For Weeks (Or Months)
On the flip side of bringing your baby everywhere, is also the excuse to stay in with your baby, which I was slightly more inclined to do. Yes, it’s nice to be able to strap your baby to you and go for a walk or hit a coffee shop, but it’s also nice to lay your baby on a blanket and hang out with them in the comfort of your own home.
Turning Down Plans
It’s not that I didn’t want to see people, it’s that I didn’t want to exert the effort it took to get myself together, and get the baby ready for a planned outing. Random sporadic outings? Yes, sign me up. However, having to get to a certain place at a certain time with the newborn in tow? Yeah, sorry. That’s not realistic for me.
Canceling Last-Minute Because Someone Is “Sleeping On Me”
Confession: I did this. I was planning to go visit some work colleagues and my newborn son was totally snoozing on my chest. This wasn’t exactly a rare occurrence, and while chances were good that he probably would have stayed asleep even if we’d moved him to his carrier, I just didn't want to risk it. New moms have permission to do that.
Accepting All The Meals And Gifts
Technically I suppose this is possible at other points in your life, but still; those times are rare. Since we’re on the subject, however, if any of my local friends read this and want to start sharing dinners with me and my family on a regular basis, I won't object.
Leaving The House With Another Human’s Bodily Fluids On Your Clothes
Babies spit up, they drool, and their diapers leak. It’s simply inevitable. The only other time I can think of any exceptions to this rule is if you’re some sort of medical professional who swooped in and saved some lives during a horrific emergency. In that case, I think it would also be OK to have bodily fluids on your clothes, since you’re a hero and all.
Asking Friends Super-Invasive Questions About Their Bodies
I mean, television shows try to convince me some women talk about this stuff all the time, but my friends and I typically don’t. Unless, of course, one of us just had a baby, in which case there’s very little that’s off limits.
Neglecting All Other Responsibilities...
I vividly remember one of the first times I successfully completed a load of laundry while I was home alone with my son. I felt like I could conquer the world. I’d blame it on the fact that, up until that moment, I’d totally ignored everything else I normally did in order to make my house and my life function.
...And Accepting Help For Things That Are, Normally, Pretty Easy To Manage
Cooking? Dishes? More laundry? Why are these things so impossible when a tiny person is next to you? I don’t know, but maybe science can look into it.
Crying More Than You Ever Thought Possible
I was warned that bringing home a new baby can be emotional. I thought I was prepared. Spoiler alert: there was nothing I could do to fight it. I think I broke down in every room of our house at some point, over seemingly minor things (like bottles and diapers and my baby's perfect face). It’s just reality. Perhaps it’s so the baby understands that they’re not the only ones who can cry? Just a guess.
Falling In Love With Someone Other Than Your Partner
Unless, of course, you and your partner have an open relationship. But if you don’t, and if you’ve opted to remain monogamous, adding a new person to your family and spreading the love is a new, and dare I say, fantastic experience.