When we brought our daughter home for the first night, I had known for approximately 54 hours that I was going to be her mom. We got the call from our adoption agency and, six hours later, we met her. 48 hours after, she was home in our very-unprepared home. All that is to say, I'm not sure I was prepared for much of anything in her first few nights at home. Nevertheless, there are things I wasn't prepared for during my baby's first night at home, that even months of notice couldn't have prepared me for. From that overwhelming feeling of anxiety about keeping my sweet daughter alive, to how gross that weird poop was at the beginning, no amount of preparing could have made me feel ready for these things.
On her first night home, our daughter slept in her bassinet beside the bed. I barely remember blinking that night, completely in awe that she was home and completely terrified that something would happen and I wouldn't have the NICU nurses to help. Minute by minute, the night ticked by and I couldn't stop watching her. I would close my eyes for a minute only to have her make some new sound and leave my heart racing. Meanwhile, my husband would snore for a minute only to be woken by me whacking him in the arm and asking if he heard that weird sound, too.
But when the sun rose the next morning, we had done it. We had managed our first night as a family of three, even though we were totally unprepared for it in a few key ways.
I know this is more of a consideration if you're breastfeeding, but those young babies can really eat.
We went through so many half-bottles with our daughter in the first few nights, because our first instinct when she was fussing was to see if she was hungry (and, most of the time, she was). At six pounds, I can see why she was trying to pack on the weight.
They tell you about it, and you may have seen it in the hospital, but it's still weird and gross. Who knew you'd be excited to see normal baby poop.
Missing The Right Equipment
We had the (barely) bare minimum when we brought our daughter home, although luckily we had lovely friends who sent diapers via Amazon Prime (and wipes and their favorite baby supplies, because not all heroes wear capes) to our door the moment they heard she was coming.
However, even with more time to prepare, we might not have had the right bottles or the right pacifier or even the right wipes. You might think you're prepared, but when the baby is there in real life you run the risk of having to send someone out to the store in the middle of the night for something.
Overwhelming Anxiety About Keeping The Baby Alive
The hospital environment is so protected, and at least in our experience we never felt fully in charge of our daughter. The nurses were always there in case we had questions and she was on a strict NICU feeding schedule that seemed to mobilize itself every two hours. Once we took her home, that's when everything was instantly real and the anxiety hit home that we were the only two people in charge of keeping her alive and thriving.
No One Sleeping
Even when the baby was sleeping, there was no way I could sleep. I couldn't believe she was finally home in our house. I was listening for every breath to make sure she was OK, and I wasn't used to her little noises so everything gave me a little start.
There was very little sleep had or enjoyed that night, both in excitement and anxiety. Luckily, baby girl took the opportunity to get a little rest here and there. Phew.
That People Would Want To Visit
I've always thought this was strange that people would even consider visiting a baby in its first hours at home. Thankfully, when we came home we barely knew a soul in the city we had just relocated to, so this wasn't a reality for us.
However, I did find myself thinking, "How could people ever think visiting on the first night a baby came home was OK?"
Newfound Potential Hazards In Your Home
That first night is when we noticed (and panicked unnecessarily over) a whole bunch of new hazards in our already-home-study-approved apartment. Slippery polished concrete floors! Thresholds that might trip you when you're carrying the baby!
Ours weren't exactly real hazards, but they sure felt like it that first night with our tiny treasure.
That You'll Feel The Need To Photograph Every Moment
I have photographs of every angle of the carseat when we made our way home from the hospital. I have photos of my daughter crossing the threshold the first time and my husband giving her her first bottle. I have photos of the first time we took her out of the car seat and our first swaddle attempt outside the NICU. There's something about that first night "full of firsts" that compels you to take a photo at just about every turn.