I've yet to experience something as surreal and exciting as meeting my new baby. I know some parents meet their babies for the first time and feel as though they've known them forever, but even after each had lived inside of me for 39 and 38 weeks, they were strangers. Beloved strangers, but strangers nonetheless. So settling in at home with my newborns was, well, odd. There are weird things that happen during mom's first day home with baby, because it's a weird situation and I don't think anyone has a really great handle on what they're supposed to do.
Because on the one hand, all of this is new and different. On the other hand, you are acutely, and perhaps even anxiously, aware that everything you're doing is now your new normal. None of this is part of any special occasion: this is real life and you have to hit the ground running.
The combination of feeling comfortable, familiar, and an expert at everything within your home, and this bizarre little creature you know pretty much nothing about upending that confidence, can lead to some pretty weird situations. I wouldn't take it to heart, though, because I'm pretty positive every single new mom does the following:
She Stares At Her Baby For Hours
While absolutely no one can blame you for gazing lovingly at this tiny human that you've been waiting months, or maybe even years, to meet, it's still weird. Like, can you think of any other context in which staring at one person all day would be socially acceptable? The only other one I can think of is, like, watching a one-person performance, and in that case the entertainer has invited you to gaze upon them. Other than that, this behavior is reserved for new parents, perverts on the subway, and serial killers.
She Stares In Horror At Her Baby's Umbilical Stump
This is weird, but that's not on you because umbilical stumps are gross AF and you can't help but look at them. It looks like a dried out piece of cat poop that someone glued to your baby's tummy. You look at it in and wonder, "When the hell is that thing going to come off?" You tentatively touch it and wiggle it a little bit, testing to see if it's anywhere close to freeing itself from your child's abdomen. (It's not.) You spend the next couple weeks resisting the urge to pick at it.
She Exists In A Perpetual State Of Frantic Boredom
This isn't just the first day, either. Oh no, my friends, this is the first several months of your child's life. You're bored, because, let's face it, the child just lies there. They physically and developmentally can only do, like, four things tops, and that includes sleep. At the same time, they demand so much of your attention. They need to be held, changed, cuddled, cleaned, and fed seemingly constantly. Most of these things are not difficult, they are just redundant and draining. If you were also the person to give birth to your child, factor in the added complication of doing the aforementioned while you're healing from delivery. You are, mystically, therefore, both bored and frantically worrying about what you have to do next.
She Wonders If It's OK That She's Alone With This Baby
At first I worried that this was just me, but it is, in fact, common among new parents to wonder if some actual adult person in charge hasn't made a mistake. Like, "Was there no test I was required to pass before they let me home with this tiny person? Are we allowed to be alone with them? Can we check on that? Because I honestly don't know what the hell is going on with literally any of this and I'm worried for all parties involved, TBH."
She Establishes A Schedule
Hahahaha. Oh you sweet, silly Type-A. Look, your effort is noble but come on now. Do you really think you have the power to know what is going to work best for you and your child one day in, or that your child has any interest in or ability to conform to this preconceived notion? It would be pretty freakish if it worked out, honestly. Feel things out for a while, honey, then worry about the schedule.
She Stares At Her Postpartum Pad In Horror
Yeah, it's a little weird to sit and stare at the things that have come out of your vagina but OMG HAVE YOU SEEN ALL THE THINGS THAT ARE COMING OUT OF MY VAGINA?! Postpartum discharge is strange. And I'm not talking about strange like the way Weird Al Yankovic is strange. Goofy, kooky, and strangely comforting. I mean strange like The Demogorgon in Stranger Things. Bizarre, out of place, and terrifying.
While lots of blood and other gunk gushing forth from your most magical of orifices is normal, it's also weird (at least in such unprecedented amounts), and no one can fault you for observing it with equal parts horror and scientific curiosity.
She Puts Her Baby In Her Favorite Outfit
It's not weird on the surface but, if you think about it, it's a bit weird from a practical standpoint. Because your baby has no concept of clothes, doesn't really need clothes (at least not an outfit) and you're just sitting there. At home. All dressed up and nowhere to go.
Still, in the case of my daughter, I'd been hanging on to the outfit pictured above for months before she was born and was so excited to see her in it I didn't need a special occasion. (Besides, it was a newborn size and she was born over nine pounds, so this is basically the only time she ever actually fit in it.)
She Sniffs Her Baby
Maybe it's because our primordial lizard brain is being activated in new and exciting ways in the presence of our offspring, but there's so much to take in, including the awesome baby head smell and the not so awesome baby ass smells. All those smells need to be sniffed. Incessantly. First to see what's up with them and then to question them. Questions like, "How does she smell like baby powder? I don't use baby powder!" or, "Why does his poop smell like yeasty bread? Is that normal? Maybe if I sniff it again... Yeah, nope, still smells like yeasty bread."
She Falls Into A Guilt Spiral Over Her Pet
"OMG! Poor puppy/kitty/parrot/iguana/ferret/hedgehog/python! How could I do this to you? You were my first baby! And now I'm bringing this new baby into the house — your house — that is going to require all of my attention and take it from you. I am so, so, so sorry! My poor little pet baby! I'm the worst mommy ever!"
(Everyone gets over this pretty quick. It's just a weird little crisis many of us have that first day or week.)
She Gaze Upon Her Baby's Exit In Awe
Whether your baby exited your vagina or your C-section scar, being home is probably the first opportunity you've had a mirror to really get a good look (I feel like hospitals probably do that on purpose so no one freaks out). It's weird to hunker down with a mirror and examine your intimate areas, but so is a baby coming out of a vagina or a tiny incision. You marvel in fear and reverence looking at "the spot" and contemplating the logistics of this recent feat.
She Gets Excited About Doing Mundane, Baby-Related Tasks
Because it's all so new. Oh yay! I get to clean bottles! Huzzah! It's time to wash the cloth diapers! Goody-goody! I can put my baby down for a nap in their new crib.
Eventually, at times, these tasks will threaten to destroy your very soul. Enjoy them now, my sweet summer child.
She Dresses Her Baby Up In Funny Items
Does... does not everyone do this? No? Just me. Whatever. My Hipster Baby (above) is hilarious. She was into dressing up before you'd even heard of it. She still does it now, but, like, ironically.
Watch Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:
Check out the entire Romper's Doula Diaries series and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.