I'm sad to say that, after I gave birth, my hospital stay was less than ideal. A very unpleasant nurse, some initial breastfeeding problems, and sharing a room with a noisy couple that had visitors at all hours of the day, left me more than anxious to leave. So, after signing some papers, we were back in our home less than 36 hours after my son arrived. That's when I quickly discovered the things that happen during your baby's first day at home; things that are almost impossible to prepare for until you're standing in your living room, holding the brand new human being you're now responsible for.
We had visitors from the UK at our house when I went into labor. In fact both sets of new grandparents were in town, so we had quite the full house when it was "go time." Thankfully, when we brought our new baby home for the very first time, they all went out together and left my now family of three alone, so we could grow accustomed to our new "normal." I remember closing the door behind our beloved family members, and then having a little cry (because I do that and postpartum hormones are the real deal). Then my partner and I just stared at this little person we had made, in absolute amazement and delight that he was finally in the world.
The next three months passed by in a bit of a blur, but I remember that first night as if it was yesterday. While every baby, every parent, and every "first night at home" situation is going to be different, I'd say there are a few universal truths you could stand to prepare yourself for, including the following:
You'll Stare At Your Baby For Hours
New babies faces, especially your own, are like fish tanks; you can spend hours just staring at them for no particular reason.
I loved tracing my new baby's face and taking in all the unique little features that he had inherited from either me or my partner. I didn't want to put him down, and loved when he fell asleep on me while making little cooing noises.
You'll Let The Entire World Know Your Baby Is Home
Once that baby is home, you're going to want to let everyone know you made a person and they're finally outside of your body and they have a name and everything!
There's something really nice about reading over all the Facebook comments from your inevitable "birth announcement post" because, um, this is 2016 you guys. Having a place to collect everyone's well wishes, and hear about how your baby is the most adorable baby in the world, is pretty damn nice. For example, I received well wishes and special messages from five different countries and from people I hadn't seen or heard from in a while. A newborn can make everyone happy, it turns out.
You'll Take All The Pictures
Acting like the paparazzi on your baby's first day home is pretty normal. Who else is going to capture the moment they are taken out of their carseat, the moment they wear their first at-home outfit, or the moment they smile? You, that's who!
My son, who's about to be a 3-year-old toddler, loves looking at his baby photographs. It's seriously his favorite way to pass the time, and I am so glad I took so many pictures when he was little.
You'll Nurse A Lot (Or Spend Time Preparing A Lot Of Bottles)
Apart from sleeping, the thing newborns seem to do the most is eat. The little milk monsters are nothing short of insatiable, and you're either nursing non-stop or making bottles back to back to freakin' back.
Turns out, I had to do a little bit of both (and in between pumping). My son had a weak latch and needed a supplement of formula at the beginning of our breastfeeding journey.
You'll Sleep (Sort Of)
Thankfully brand new babies sleep a lot, which means you can at least try to sleep, too. Full disclosure, however: the whole "sleep when the baby sleeps" thing is a little far-fetched. After all, the world doesn't stop turning and your other responsibilities don't cease to exist, just because you did something as miraculous as bring another human being into the world.
You'll Change All The Diapers
The first few diapers can be a bit weird, and breastfed babies will often poop after every feed. In other words, the fist 24 hours of your kid's at-home life will be nothing but diaper after diaper after poop-filled diaper. Your baby's first poop, called meconium — a dark tar-like substance — will probably have happened before you take your little one home (if you have a hospital birth). So, by the time you get home your baby's poop may have turned more green in color. Don't worry, that level of nasty is totally normal.
I made sure my husband got involved in as many diaper changes as I did. Trust me when I say it's important to establish a system early.
Birth, and the responsibility of having a new baby, are emotional juggernauts. So of course you're bound to be a little weepy.
If you're like me, you may well find yourself veering between feeling tearful and elated. My advice? Cut yourself some slack. This is one of the biggest transitions you will ever go through, and life will never be the same again.
You'll Freak Out
Newborns can seem so fragile and small that, well, you may worry you could inadvertently hurt them. It took me forever to put clothes on my son during the first few days of his life, because I was terrified of hurting him. Plus, it's not like I had any idea what I was doing. After all, I had never been a mom before.
When it all felt a little overwhelming, I spoke to my mom. She reassured me that everyone feels this way when they're a first-time parent, and as you become used to your new role, it will start to feel like second nature.
In your child's life there will be many firsts, all of them as special, unique and memorable as this very first day at home.