Nothing can ever prepare you for having a newborn. Whether it's the fact that you hit the ground running, the facet that you're exhausted or the fact that you feel an overwhelming love for this tiny creature who has no idea who you even are: everything is new, everything is potent, and you will simultaneously be blissfully and fearfully clueless. Enter your mom, specifically your mom via text, because the texts new moms send their moms (and the responses they receive) are going to be crucial over the course of the next few months.
I know everyone says they have the best mom, and I hate to be the bearer of bad news, you guys, but I actually have the best mom. (Don't worry, I'm sure your moms are lovely, too.) She was awesome during both of my pregnancies and struck the perfect balance between encouragement and keeping a respectful distance. She knew the things I would need her to do without even asking, particularly making me #allthefreezermeals, but knew when to step back and let me do my thing. She somehow knew what to ask me about and not ask me about. She also knew that, when it came to childbirth and the newborn stage my style was like that of a feral cat: if I had my druthers I'd have given birth by myself in a closet or under a porch, chilled out there for a little bit, and come out when I was ready. It was nothing against her or anyone else, because we'd always been very close, but I mostly just wanted to be left alone.
Finally, and thankfully, my mother knew that just because I didn't want to entertain people or even have well-meaning, helpful people around to lend a hand, that didn't mean I didn't need my mom. I needed her, to be sure, I just needed her more remotely (at first). She got that, and responded to my constant stream of text messages with the same encouragement and grace that helped me through my pregnancy.
Yeah, They Do That
Everyone knows babies cry. Any number of non-parents, including smug pregnant women, convinced they know what they're in for, will tell you that in a tone that suggests, "What did you expect? Why are you complaining?" However, until you live in a house with a constantly or near-constantly crying baby and are responsible for said child, you really have no idea what "babies cry" means or what it can do to a parent's spirits and morale. Your mom knows. Your mom put up with your weepy baby self. Your mom will be there for you.
Your Phone Has Taken A Vow Of Silence
Any newborn parent will tell you that ensuring the continued sleep of a sleeping baby is basically the prime directive of early parenthood. Before I had kids I talked a big game about how, "I'm not going to make a big deal of making sure the room is silent. The kid will get used to a typical amount of noise and sleep through it and that's just the way it's going to be." After sleeping in 20 minute increments for days at a time and even getting to the point of considering praying to St. Elijah (that's the patron saint of sleep), I realized that if crypt-like silence was what was required to make sure my child slept, then crypt-like silence would be observed. So, occasionally, the texts your mom sends you will go unnoticed, because you cannot risk even the tiniest vibration of your phone going off at the wrong moment and waking your wee one.
Postpartum Marathons (Not The Running Kind)
OMG, guys: so much Netflix happened when my kids were newborns. It was amazing. Orange Is The New Black, Luther, Top of the Lake, House, M.D. Neither of my kids really liked to sleep anywhere but in my arms and, well, I was happy to oblige. I mean, not only did it mean amazing cuddling sessions, it also meant a lot of television. Sadly, a lot of television usually means that you'll eventually run out of television shows to watch, so I had to call upon my mom to let me know what I should tune into next.
Let's Do The Time Warp Again
Honestly, the first three months of my children lives don't feel like a series of months, weeks, or even days. Do to waking at weird hours, sleeping at weird hours, and weird hormones coursing through your body, upsetting your natural rhythms, it all feels like one very, very, very long day. You may well need your mother to reorient and anchor you, which, fortunately, moms are pretty good at.
I'm still sort of mystified by how this happens. Like, the baby just sits there, but I guess everything just kind of piles up around them, right? I heard my mother complain about "the piles" [of stuff the five of us would leave around the house] my whole life, so I figure she'd have some sympathy on the subject. She usually just laughed. Jerk.
Now You See It...
Guys, I cannot tell you how unsettling it is to look at distaste at your baby's gross, dried out umbilical remains for weeks at a time, thinking to yourself that it looks like someone stuck a cat turd in your baby's otherwise beautiful belly button, praying it would vanish ASAP and then BOOM! Gone without a trace. It had to go somewhere, and you know that eventually you're going to find it and it's going to be gross and you just hope and wish it isn't, like, on your pillow or something.
One Of Baby's Favorite Hobbies
Newborns are like Kardashians: we love them and they look beautiful doing absolutely nothing and so we just stare at them, even when we don't necessarily have a solid reason to. The good news is, your mother wants a billion and seven more pictures of your new baby, than the two billion and four you've already taken, so at least you know someone shares your obsession.
Can You Smell Me From There?
To the mother of a newborn, an uninterrupted shower is like a full-fledged spa day. Whether or not your mom is close enough to actually do this for you, you will want her to pop over and do you a solid. (And, who knows, maybe your plight will move her to pity and she'll book the next red eye to help you out...)
A Modest Proposal...
Cooking with a newborn in the house? Ain't nobody got time for that. But you know whose cooking was always great? Mom's. Well, my mom's was anyway, I don't know about yours. But even if she wasn't a great cook the point is she is physically capable of cooking for you when you're just done. Again, whether or not she is nearby is not the point, because a girl can dream.
Enter Crippling Self Doubt
There will come a time, amid the newness of having a newborn, where you realize, "Holy crap this is real life. No one is coming to do this for me. This is what I'm going to do now for the rest of forever and I have no idea how I've even made it this far and WTF." That's about the time your brain will feel like a feverishly whirling computer that someone then dumps a bucket of water on and it sparks and shuts down. This is a good time to text your mom, who is good at talking you down, because you will need it. (Don't worry, thought, because there's another moment that will happen when you realize you do know WTF you're doing, but that looks different for every parent, so I won't speculate what it will look like for y'all.)
This Is Not A Drill
Dramatic overreaction and unnecessary panic happen to even the most proudly laid back of us. Don't feel too embarrassed. Your mom will gently remind you that sneezing is normal and you don't have to go to the hospital without making you feel like an idiot. Either that or she'll straight up call you an idiot, but in a loving way, and that will snap you out of it. Either way, you'll thank her.
The Horror. The Horror.
Projectile poop exists people, and it is terrifying. You will need to talk about it with someone else who has been in the shit *rimshot*.
The Most Labor Intensive Thing They'll Do All Day
These are even better than the sleeping baby pictures, and should tide your mother over until you can get the other two billion and three photos she has requested. But you don't mind: your mom does a lot for you, even via text, so tithes of baby pictures are a small price to pay.