The first time I was home alone with my son was slightly stressful. By “slightly,” of course, I mean “off the charts.” He was a 2-day-old newborn and his dad ran out to the drugstore to get something that we hoped would soothe his crying (I don’t even remember what). I vividly remember walking by the hallway mirror, seeing the image of myself holding a crying baby and thinking, “Whoa.” I suspect (read: hope) I’m not alone, and that there are some universal things new moms think when they’re alone with their baby for the first time.
I was pacing, rocking, and singing old summer camp songs to my son as we kept passing by that damn mirror. At that point, we barely knew each other, but I took my new mom responsibilities seriously and was desperate to calm him in any way that I could. The only problem was that, well, I had no idea what I was doing. To be fair, I'm pretty positive my baby had no idea what he was doing, either. In some small way, and even though I was the adult in the situation, it was a small comfort to know that we were both figuring this mom-takes-care-of-baby thing, together.
Eventually, and thankfully, we figured it out. Not that night, and not that week or even that month, but at some point in the future it stopped being stressful and started feeling natural (with plenty of stressful moments in the mix, but whatever). So if you're starring that first solo mom/baby day, remember that you'll figure it out, it'll soon feel nothing short of second nature, and if you start thinking the following, you're definitely not alone.
"OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG"
Actually, if I’m going to be really honest, there’s a high likelihood that some of my thoughts weren’t even coherent enough to be deciphered as “OMG.” Regardless, that’s the closest thing I can think of to represent repetitive panic pulsing through my brain.
"I Can Do This"
A little positive thinking never hurts, right? Even if you have serious doubts about whether or not you’re lying to yourself (ahem), we’ve all gotta start somewhere. I know, that sounds dramatic, but seriously it felt dramatic when I had a crying 2-day-old baby in my arms.
"I’ve Been Waiting My Whole Life For This"
If I keep telling myself, it almost becomes true, right? I was born for this and I was made for this and it's part of my basic human instincts. Yep. I'm going to wish that thought into fruition, my friends.
"I Mean, Your Whole Life For This"
Technically, this already is true. Never mind that your life is just beginning, it still counts.
"Just Breathe. Breathe. Definitely Keep Breathing."
Maybe I should back up a few steps and start here. I’m not good at remembering to pause and count to ten or take a moment to meditate when I’m under stress, but I think there’s something to be said for remembering to breathe. It’s pretty universal.
"You Too, Baby. Let Me See You Breathe, Please."
If only I’d known about the breathing irregularities newborns are prone to. Not that it would have saved me stress or sleep, since I probably still would have spent countless hours watching my son’s chest rise and fall, but at least I would have had logic on my side.
"Should I Sing A Song? Or Something?"
I have no idea how I ended up singing old camp songs instead of lullabies. Perhaps I was subconsciously trying to comfort myself, too? Either way, I think it helped, so I stand by that decision.
In fact, these clearly clutch camp songs make regular appearances in our household, and my son hasn’t complained (much).
"Should I Swaddle You? How In The Hell Do You Swaddle A Baby, Again?"
I swear, the nurses who taught me at the hospital had to have been double-jointed, or in possession of a third limb that I didn’t see, because I could replicate it at home. Thankfully, we eventually discovered sleep sacks, so all was right in the world, but there were some dicey moments in those early days.
"I Think I’m Just Going To Hold You"
This is a start, right? Having your tiny little head on my shoulder is making me feel better, too.
"Your Head Smells Good"
Actually wait, scratch that. “Good” isn’t strong enough of a word. Your head smells like all the flowers and all the baked goods and all the men’s cologne and all the scented candles that have ever existed, rolled up into one subtle, gentle aroma of perfection.
"We’re Fine. Everything Is Fine. This Is Totally Fine."
I can get used to this. If motherhood just involved snuggling and smelling a tiny head for eighteen years, I’d be the best mom ever.
"Just Please Don’t Need Anything For The Immediate Future"
I am still way behind the curve on breastfeeding, diapering, and pretty much everything else you could possibly need right now. But snuggling? I’ve got that down.