Hormones. Sleeplessness. Inexperience. Difficulty. Stress. It's safe to say that life with a newborn isn't nearly as magical and serene as Anne Gedes would have you believes. (Also: way fewer babies dressed up as flowers. No one tells you that.) The newborn days are some of the hardest a parent will face, so if you feel like you've actually gone insane since your baby was born, it's because you probably have. And if you are a hyper-sensitive crazy newborn parent, that's OK! Frankly, it would be pretty damn weird if you weren't.
It's easy to look back on the newborn days and realize, "Oh, wow. I was acting kind of like a crazy person." At least it was for me because, yeah, I was pretty damn insane at the time. However, postpartum life plus uncertainty plus the massive amounts of information I had to learn (not to mention the unlikely but very real fear that your baby could just die for no reason) was making it pretty damn easy to overlook the fact that I was being just a little bit hyper-sensitive.
The main thing to remember is that you're not expected to know everything right away. Your craziness? That's what anyone would and should expect to feel in your situation. (And if someone is getting high and mighty with you, I can personally assure you it's not because they never felt it themselves. Instead, it's because they've forgotten what it was like to be in your shoes.) Just remember that newborn babies are clueless and couldn't judge you if they tried so, you know, you have a forgiving audience. At the end of the day, the newborn stage isn't all bad. (And if it is, well, take comfort in the fact that's fleeting.)
So what are the signs that you're just a run-of-the-mill, slightly loopy newborn parent? Here are just a few, to get you started:
You Make Anyone Who Wants To Hold The Baby Scrub In
Mere hand sanitizer will not do. People have germs. Hideous germs. Probably deadly germs, you never know. So you assume the worst and insist they follow standard operating room procedures, complete with surgical masks and gloves.
OK, not actually, but if it were even a little bit socially acceptable you’d totally get on that with no apologies.
You Cried Over Baby Acne
Because you didn’t know what it was and you thought there was something wrong, or you did something wrong and the result was bothering your infant. Then you did figure out what it was and you convinced yourself it bothered your baby.
Then you realized it didn’t bother your baby, but it still sort of bothered you, because you didn’t want your baby to be judged even though you know only a complete asshole would judge a baby, but it still made you feel shallow and awful, and what are these feelings and what are you doing?! Shhh. It’s OK mama. This is normal and everything is OK and this too shall pass.
You Made An Appointment With The Pediatrician Because You Think Your Baby Sneezed
It’s not your fault that you’re paranoid. For one, it’s not entirely misplaced: infants are ridiculously fragile in many ways. Their immune systems aren’t fully developed and even big babies are teeny tiny.
So when you so much as suspect that your baby might be coming down with something, you immediately call the experts. More often than not, that expert will come back with a reassuring, “They’re fine,” as you suspected they would, but you still wind up feeling a little bit silly. That’s OK, too. Trust me, the doctors and nurses get it: you aren’t the first crazy newborn mom they’ve come across and, I guarantee you, you won’t be the last.
You Feel Guilty Because You've Only Read Your Three Week Old Two Books Today
Because you’ve read several peer reviewed studies in well-regarded journals that reading to your baby is really important and if you’re not going to read to them now, you’re basically dooming them to a future of illiteracy and delinquency! Two stories? Are you joking?! Why don’t you just initiate them into a gang of street toughs now and save some time?! You’re failing your baby!
(Yeah, seriously? Don’t worry about this one, folks. It’s fine to read to your infant. Great even. But if you don’t for whatever reason they’re going to be fine.)
You Cried Over Spilled Milk
Perhaps you spilled pumped breast milk. Maybe you spilled freshly mixed formula. Perhaps you spilled some cow’s milk you were pouring for yourself. No matter what, your tears are only a little crazy and completely understandable. Pumping is work and takes forever and there is no sorrow quite like watching the fruits of your labor splash to the floor. Formula is expensive AF and spilling even a little is like flushing money down the toilet. Spilling regular milk? There are two good reasons crying over this is completely reasonable:
- After pumping you now know what a cow feels like and you feel bad that you’ve, essentially, spilled some poor cow’s breast milk or;
- Your postpartum hormones are off the charts and you can cry over literally anything and expect to be met with understanding and compassion.
You feel your feelings.
You Are Having An Existential Crisis About How Many Layers Your Baby Should Be Wearing
They say put your baby in the number of layers you’re wearing plus one, but is that also true in the summer? Do they need pants even? Are they going to freeze? Are they going to overheat?
You start pulling a Good Will Hunting, doing math on a mirror, like “There has to be some sort of formula to calculate this, right? Like, the month divided by the temperature, times your baby’s weight in ounces to the tenth power or something should let me know the perfect number of layers my child should be wearing in order to be at their optimal temperature.”
The real answer is, of course, “The fact that you’re flipping out about this just goes to show that you’re a crazy newborn parent, like countless others before you, and if you use common sense everything will be OK."
You Cried Because You're Worried Your Baby Is Bored
Because they’re not doing anything. You haven’t played with them for, like, 10 minutes because you had to shower. Let’s never forget: you’ve only read those two books today. OMG! Are they sleeping 18 hours a day because they’re bored? Are they going to slink into boredom-induced baby depression? How could you do this to them! Quick, book a trip to Disney World because clearly your kid is in need of some stimulation.
Honestly, they really probably don’t. They sleep a ton and they extent of stimulation they need at this point is, well, looking at your eyebrows. You’re sparing them from boredom by existing. When everything is new, everything is interesting (just wait until they discover their toes), so you’re off the hook for a while.
You Frantically Google Ten Questions An Hour
“Why does my baby’s poop smell like bread?” (Don’t know, but it’s normal.) “Baby soft spot pulsing normal?” (It’s creepy, but normal.) “Baby sleeping 18 hours normal?” (Yep, and lucky you if they do.)
All the questions that pervaded your pregnancy have been transferred over to questions about your baby (and, let’s be honest here, your postpartum vag, because things are insane down there). It’s OK, there’s lot to learn. Just, please, don’t let the internet freak you out. Half the time it’s drunk and doesn’t know what it’s talking about, anyway.
You Write Everything Down
The contents of every diaper is written down in detail. Feedings (complete with exact ounces consumed), naps (down to the millisecond), walks, pumping sessions, instances of spit-up all gets jotted down in a journal.
We all did it as newborn parents (or, at the very least, enough of us that in a group of parents you won’t be stared at as a weirdo). Is it normal? Absolutely. Is it weird? I mean, yeah, kinda. In retrospect you may well look back at those journals and think, “Wow. OK, crazy.” But it’s endearing.
Your Friend Comes Over To Watch The Baby For An Hour So You Can Relax At A Cafe. You Spend Half That Time Looking At Pictures On Your Phone And Half That Time Crying.
Because you miss your baby! That first time away from your little one, no matter how brief, can be super tough. This will pass and eventually you’ll see a dog tied up in front of the pharmacy and think, “This dog looks trustworthy, I bet I could leave the baby with this dog and go get a quick mani-pedi.”
Now, do not under any circumstances leave your baby with a dog babysitter, but, you know, I don’t blame you for entertaining it briefly as a passing thought because, damn, a parent needs a break sometimes.
You Feel Terrible That Your Pet Isn't Getting Enough Attention
They were, after all, your first baby! What if they think you hate them now? You've turned their lives upside down, so clearly they're going to hate you forever.
They don't. You didn't. They won't. It'll be fine. Dogs get it. I mean, dogs ignore us if there's a particularly excellent chew toy to gnaw on, and that's way less important than a baby, so they get it. Don't worry. Plus, cats hate everything all the time anyway so no huge difference there, right? (Also: once the baby and pet are old enough to play with one another? Adorable.)
Your Heart Rate Goes Up In The Presence Of Experienced Parents
Because you think those moms are the real moms. They know what they’re doing! They knew how to hold your baby to make her stop crying. They breastfed their child for 36 months! They have a remedy for every one of your baby’s ailments (spoiler alert: it’s usually coconut oil). They all seem so, you know expert!
But they, too, started off as hyper-sensitive, crazy newborn parents. You are no less real a parent than they are and, soon enough, a sensitive, insane newborn parent will look at you in the same reverent awe. They won’t realize how awesome they are and, well, neither will you.