When I recall those early months at home with my son, I see a blur of loving confusion (or perhaps confusing love). I wanted to be able to snuggle him blissfully for hours at a time, stay calm through every single diaper change (even the ones that made huge messes), and wipe his tears lovingly. Of course, it was not that simple. There are things that are simply unpleasant, and I could not ignore the fact that there are some terrible things about babies that are only funny later.
Once I started to realize that taking care of a baby isn't all roses and butterflies, it was like unlocking a new parenting level. It didn't necessarily make the tough newborn days any easier, but it offered some perspective that I desperately needed. It's not like I thought bringing a baby home would be easy. I mean, I fully expected challenges and struggles. It's just that, in the moment, things feel so much more intense. (The whole not sleeping thing probably has something to do with it.)
I've laughed over many of my early struggles with a number of my mom friends. I'm currently pregnant with baby number two, so I'm hoping to remember that necessary perspective and, as a result, things won't be too difficult. Probably not, though. Let's be honest: having a newborn in the house is hardly a time when logical things like perspective come in handy. Having a newborn in the house is a never-ending scramble to meet their needs while ignoring your own, since you'e too busy dealing with:
The Fear They Strike In Our Hearts
And I don’t mean fear of the actual baby. I mean the fear of what could happen to the baby. The things I read about when I go down internet rabbit holes at some horrific hour in the morning, when all I was really trying to do was find some reassurance that the noise my baby is making is normal.
The Never-Ending Waterfall Of Fluids They Emit
Under most circumstances, the majority of us would probably not willingly sign-up to be peed on regularly for an extended length of time, but that’s exactly what happens when you have a baby. Pretty much all body fluids are fair game for them to spray or spit or sneeze at you. It’s certainly not my favorite thing about parenthood, but at least we get some good stories out of it.
How They Force Us To Question Our Sanity On A Regular Basis
Never mind that these questions could easily be answered with an extra hour of sleep, a good meal, or even a good cry. In those moments, when your kiddo is crying and you can not figure out why, or when you’re trying to snap a pair of pajamas that seems to have a third leg attached, or when you can’t remember the words to the song you’re in the middle of singing, remember: it’s not your fault. It’s totally your baby’s fault. Just kidding. I'm obviously kidding.
The Irresistible Cuteness That Is Practically A Weapon
Apparently, this isn’t too far from the truth. I mean, how does one not melt when a tiny baby meets their eye, or smiles, or squeezes their finger? I was rendered completely helpless when my son did anything cute in that baby stage.
Actually, technically that’s still the case since he’s not even 3 and still in his prime cute years. I’m weak, apparently.
The Ridiculous Contraptions We’re Forced To Figure Out On Their Behalf
I mean, swaddling doesn’t sound that hard. I’m pretty sure I managed to do it under the watchful eyes of the nurses before my new family was released from the hospital. But on my own, it was practically impossible. Thank goodness for the various sleep sacks and swaddles that come with velcro and zippers. And, the same thing goes for the baby carriers that are just giant swaths of fabric. I literally spent so long figure one out that my son fell asleep before I could get him in place.
Their Complicated Communication Puzzles
I have zero memories of my son ever going through a baby phase when he had specific cries for specific things. Or, at least, none that I could decipher.
Now that he’s a toddler, I do recognize it in some ways, like how his “owie” cry is way more gut-wrenching than his “but I wanted to put my mittens on myself” cry. But, when he was a baby? No way. Trying to decode his cries was a guessing game that I was only mediocre at playing.
They Always Seem To Be Asleep When You Want Them To Be Awake, And Awake When You Want Them To Be Asleep
Wouldn’t vampires be great parents? Why isn’t there a sexy, semi-controversial trilogy about that? Either way, if I don’t try to pen one myself, I’ll probably just spend the next year or so trying and failing to predict my second baby’s sleep patterns, since I could definitely redeem myself after how this went with my son.
They Amount At Which They Require You To Open Your Shirt If You're Breastfeeding
I mean, I’m not sure about everyone else, but baring my breasts a trillion times in the course of my day took some getting used to. Once we got the hang of it, I loved the closeness my son and I shared when I breastfed, don't get me wrong. However, if I could have gotten the same thing without unbuttoning my shirt, I totally would have done it that way.