In my experience, becoming a mom is like becoming an amateur photographer. There's just something about the need to capture every single coo and sorta-smile that leaves you obsessed with all things photography. I know I couldn't stop taking selfies with either one of my children. In fact, I still can't. So make no mistake, there are more than a few mandatory photos you *must* take in the first six months of motherhood. No, seriously. This should be a requirement.
I will admit, however, that there's a major photo discrepancy between the first six months of my first child's life, and the first six months of life with my second child. It wasn't intentional, to be sure, but I definitely took way too many pictures of my oldest. There's just something about capturing all the "firsts" that's both exhilarating in the moment and comforting when you realize your baby is growing up way too fast. My daughter made me a mom, after all, and I wanted to document just what that transition meant. For both of us.
Of course, I made sure to capture all those milestone moments with my son, too, but he doesn't have quite as many photo albums to flip through. Having said that, here are the pictures you absolutely have to take in the first six months of your little one's life and before the moments are gone forever.
The "Just Entered The World" Photo
No one will judge you for pulling out your phone (or high tech professional grade camera) minutes after giving birth to take as many pictures of your newborn as humanly possible. Actually, it's a rite of passage. It doesn't matter your baby is hours old and looks almost identical to most other babies — this is your baby. So, go ahead. Snap to your heart's content and never stop. I haven't.
The "Leaving The Hospital" Photo
This is definitely worth taking, if only so you can look back and laugh at how terrified everyone involved looks. I don't know about you, but I was flabbergasted that the doctors and nurses were letting my partner and I leave the hospital with our baby. Like, are you sure we're ready to take care of this tiny little thing? Alone? By ourselves?!
The "First Bath" Photo
By the time you get home and have to do all the parenting things without the assistance of hospital staff, your baby's first bath is nothing short of terrifying. You need to be sure you get every splash, every tear (yours, not the baby's), and every awkward "how do we clean that? look you'll share with your partner and/or support person.
My daughter's first time getting a rinse in a plastic tub was arguably one of the most ridiculous events of my life. She was so small and my partner and I were so scared.
The "Obligatory Month-By-Month" Photo
If you don't already take a photo every month to show the progress your baby is making in the growing department (because a lot can change in those six months), you'd better catch up now. I didn't participate in an official staging of these photos with either child, because I took a lot of pictures as it was. But if I could go back, I would. Whenever I see someone post one with the caption "I'm 3 months old today" I feel a slight twinge of regret. The time just goes by so fast, take the pictures and take them now.
The "It's Either A Smile Or Gas" Photo
When your baby is between 1- and 6-months-old, you don't always know if your sweet angel is smiling because he or she feels joy, or if it's a reaction to their bodily functions. In the end, though, does it matter? I mean their faces are hilarious regardless.
The "First Night Fail" Photo
The first night we had our daughter home, I danced around with her in a baby sling for hours on end to try to get her to stop crying. It didn't work, and she cried all night long. Years later, my son fell asleep in a baby swing during the day and, as a result, refused to sleep at night.
My partner and I didn't take pictures of either event because, honestly, we were too exhausted to think about adequate documentation. But now, as I watch my kids grow and become more independent, I wish I could go back and experience the exhausting moments when they needed me every hour of every day.
The "Baby On My Chest Selfie" Photo
Please please please take all the selfies you possibly can. You carried your baby, you grew your baby, and you birthed your baby. Now they're finally here, so why wouldn't you post selfie after selfie of your tiny little cherub sleeping on your chest or enjoying a bottle or breastfeeding or whatever?
I promise that one day you'll look back and think about that exhausting time in your life and how quickly it passed.
The "Finally Napping" Photo
There's nothing more precious than a sleeping baby. Those first six months of their life and your adjustment to motherhood can feel rough, though, and a sleeping baby can sound like a fable. You're tired, the days bleed into one another, you're still healing from pregnancy, labor, and delivery, and you have a tiny newborn that doesn't sleep. So if you finally get a quiet moment when the baby's napping, it's OK to take a picture. Actually, for those nights they won't sleep, those pictures will be a great reminder that they do know how and, eventually, will again. Someday.
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