There is nothing quite as scary or more uncertain than the moments after you bring your newborn home. It's not atypical to wonder how anyone does it, or how anyone has ever done it, because holy sh*t this parenting thing is hard. But then, almost before you know it, you realize you're doing it. Without even thinking, you're raising another human being. Sometimes it takes key moments in those early newborn days to truly highlight just how well you're doing as a new mom. So I say look out for those postpartum moments prove you've got this mom thing under control, new mom. They will be what pushes you through the first year (read: every single solitary year) of motherhood.
I've generally been confident in my ability to read up on a subject, study my heart out, and then perform well on any test of the material. But if handling a newborn was the test of what I'd learned from reading about motherhood, I failed miserably in those first two weeks. I had read plenty of information on what to do with a new baby, but when I had my baby in my arms it was like all of it trickled out of my brain. I felt completely out of control and unworthy. I deferred to my partner in almost everything.
When my partner went back to work a week after I'd been home after my C-section, I felt like there was no way I could do this alone all day long and until my partner came home at 8:00 p.m. at night. It turned out that the way to build confidence is in doing the thing you think you can't do and proving yourself wrong. I could handle my baby just fine by myself. I could do all the things I thought I needed assistance with. Moment by moment, I taught myself that not only did I have this mom thing in control, I was also pretty damn good at it.
When You've Figured Out How To Do Laundry While Holding Your Newborn
In the first few days after you're handed the tiny human that's been growing inside you for nearly a year, you practically don't even know where to put your hands. Newborns are so fragile and tiny. But then you start to get comfortable, you begin to feel bold, and you experiment with a one-handed hold. It's kind of like how you felt when you really found your groove driving a car: once you felt at ease, you didn't need to grip the wheel with both hands.
I knew I had reached a good postpartum ease with my first baby when I was able to hold him while going up and down (carpeted) stairs to do laundry. I even figured out a way to hold him over my shoulder, or in a type of football hold, as I tossed laundry into the drum or took it out. When he was all snuggled up inside his spit-up covered swaddle blanket, casually strewn over my shoulder, you would have thought him to be laundry, too.
The First Time You Ace A Tight Swaddle
The nurses in the hospital have the swaddle thing on fleek. No matter how many notes you took, or how many photos, you cannot swaddle at their level. But that doesn't stop you from trying. You tie a swaddle around every smallish, baby-sized object, from your favorite childhood stuffed animal to a tiny throw pillow. Anything to practice on.
And then, one day, it happens. You nail the swaddle. It's perfection. Your baby is not going to escape this one. Better yet, this swaddle is so good your baby is going to fall asleep in it. You may be cut out for motherhood, after all.
I was a hot mess swaddler for the first two weeks after my son was born, but I think that was because I kept insisting that my partner was "better" at it. That meant that every time it came to swaddling, I would hand the baby to him (and lose out on swaddle practice). Once I started doing it, however, I realized it's not that hard. Like anything, you just have to do it over and over. Before long, swaddling became my jam.
When You Realize You Just Completed A Diaper Change, Outfit Change, & Nursing Session, All In Your Sleep
It's the second or third feeding of the night, which means that you're not only feeding, you're also changing a diaper and probably some wet pajamas (if there was a leak). You get up to do the whole routine, but your partner stops you to say it is their turn because you already did yours. Wait, what?
Sleep deprivation is real. But what's also real? The fact that you did all of these things without even being fully conscious, and you managed to get your baby back to sleep, too!
When You Take The Baby Out To A Restaurant & You Actually Have A Nice Time
I know, I know. Newborns and restaurants don't sound like a good mix. But one of the awesome things about newborns is that they can sleep through anything! They love noise! Plus, most of them do that sleeping thing a lot, and for long stretches, too. So you can take your newborn to a meal during a nap, and pretty much guarantee yourself an uninterrupted meal.
My partner and I took our newborn to lunch at one of our favorite spots (nothing fancy, but there was wine involved) when our son was just 1-week-old. Seeing my sleeping babe passed out all snug in his little carseat at my feet, while I sat back and enjoyed a glass of wine, made me feel like a freaking boss.
When You Finally Learn To Leave The House Without Taking Your Entire Nursery
In the very beginning, I didn't leave the house without a caravan that included, but certainly wasn't limited to: diaper bag bursting at the seams, two different carriers (in case he didn't like one of them) under the stroller, my Boppy in case nursing proved difficult on the go, a plush changing mat, and my freezer bag to store my pumped milk in case the baby fussed at my boob.
Then I realized that this situation would not be sustainable for every outing. When I downsized to a small diaper bag and stroller as my only accessories, and found out that that was more than enough to meet all of our needs.
When You Take That First Solo Walk Outside With Your Baby
Nothing spells postpartum success like that first walk by yourself with your baby. When you're a new mom, you often are afraid of going outside without reinforcements. It works for the first week or so when everyone is visiting you and maybe you have a relative or partner home with you. Then reality hits, and you have to put on your Big Girl Pants and actually (gulp) do things alone.
My first solo walk outside with my newborn was scary as you-know-what. I felt like there were possible landmines on every corner and was worried that in my lack-of-sleep fogginess I might make some tragic mistake and walk into traffic without looking. It turned out I was more than OK. The baby napped, and I even stopped at a cafe for coffee, where I got to write in my journal. It actually felt like "me" time, even though my "mini me" was right there.
When You Change Your Baby In A Public Restroom Without Having A Panic Attack
This probably isn't as extreme for everyone who isn't a germ nut like me. Personally? I see a public changing table and I want to shower. Once my baby has touched one, I can't relax until we've gone home and I've changed his clothes, wiped down his wipes container with clorox, and disinfected his changing mat. Yes, I am that crazy.
But of course, I've had to do it. There's just no way you can have a baby in the city and not have to use a disgusting changing table to change your baby's diaper. It's not easy, no matter what your comfort level with germs may be, because your baby is moving and wiggling and the changing table is kind of high and you're probably grabbing for all the necessary things you need to pull off a proper diaper change while keeping your baby still with one hand. Honestly, I think it is a two-person job at least. When you do master your first public diaper change, you know you've totally got this being-a-mom thing.
When You Take Your Baby To The Pediatrician Without Bringing Someone For Moral Support
The pediatrician is a whole other bag of worms. Those visits are emotional, physically trying, and you'll likely leave with boob and armpit sweat. Newborn babies hate being naked and, yet, that is exactly what has to happen at their checkups. So there you are, all swollen and leaky in your postpartum glory and you've removed your baby's diaper so now they're screaming and red and angry. That's why it is a great idea to take your partner, a family member, or friend, to those initial pediatrician visits. Similar to a scary horror movie that's just been released, you need to experience it with a friend or loved one.
The second or third visit, though? You can handle it on your own. By our fourth checkup I was the Pediatrician Pro. I knew just where the good seat was in the office to nurse after our appointment, and I got seen much faster, too. I felt so accomplished after having taken the baby to the doctor alone, I felt like I deserved some kind of major prize.
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.