Earlier this month, I visited one of my girlfriends and met her newborn baby boy. Before the summer of 2013, this type of thing would have terrified me. The thought of holding someone else's baby? I was never completely comfortable with the idea of it, mostly because I couldn't think of a single thing that required me to be more careful than a tiny person loved by one of my BFFs (aside from my unopened copy of the Backstreet Boys' 2000 album Black And Blue, which is still in the shrink-wrap and will surely be worth enough to someday fund my kiddo's college tuition). Before I was a mom, I thought babies were cool and all, but I would've preferred for them to stay a safe distance away from me and what I was convinced were my decidedly non-child-proofed arms.
What changed, you might ask? Well, the summer of 2013 was when I got pregnant. In between feelings of terror and excitement, I noticed that other babies offered a fascinating glimpse into my own future. Did the baby seem happy? Did mom seem happy? What was the baby wearing? Where could I get jammies like that? I wanted to know everything about babies, and their parents (which is now the lens I viewed my friends through — they weren't "my friends" to my pregnant eyes; they were "that baby's parents who can teach me things.") As it turns out, your perception of babies and parenthood does a radical one-eighty as soon as you find yourself knocked up. (I know, what a shocking revelation.)
Now that I have a walking, talking, swinging, laughing toddler, babies are an adorable peek at my past (and potentially my future; the jury is still out on that one). When I'm around other little ones, no longer do I feel as shy or scared or hesitant. In fact, I'm typically so full of warm fuzzies that all I'm capable of articulating is how wonderful newborns smell.
We all know how most non-parents act around babies: vaguely concerned and nervous about the responsibility of even breathing the same air as them. But what are you like around a fresh babyfriend after you've had one yourself? It's almost hilariously different. Here's a breakdown of how this actually looks:
You May Get A Little Too Comfortable, Too Quickly
While I was nuzzling her newborn, my friend — politely, but quickly — reminded me that he wasn't able to fully support his head yet. Oh, right. It's been a while, and I legitimately forgot. Probably should have taken a moment to think about that.
You Have To Bite Your Tongue
I wanted to share all my stories about late-night feedings, diapers, latches, swaddles, meconium, colostrum, all the other crazy words that pepper a new mom's vocabulary, but I had to watch myself. My feelings and experiences are over a year and a half old, while hers are brand new and still happening. It's not the time for me to steal the spotlight. It's one thing if she's asking for help, it's another for me to ramble on and on.
The Baby Will Feel Super Light
After hauling/snuggling/carrying a squirmy toddler (and developing the arm muscles that go along with it), holding a sleepy newborn feels like hugging a fluffy cloud.
You Will Consider Having More Kids
I found myself doing the math and calculating that, if I got pregnant on that very day, my child would arrive in late summer. Hmm...
New babies are so dangerous. So, so dangerous. Their cuteness gets you drunk and makes you instantly crave more babies even if you know you are not ready for more babies at all.
You Will Be Reminded Of Something You Previously Forgot
In my case, I was reminded of how newborns could just chill in their swings for an hour or longer. Once your kiddo is old enough to crawl, walk, climb, and basically refuse to sit still for more than three pages of a book, it's hard to remember anything else. Being around a friend's new little nugget always makes me miss the days when they were lumpy enough to stay in one place for an extended period of time.
You Can Think Of Ways To Actually Help Your Friend
Before you have kids, you know that your friends with new babes are tired and overwhelmed, but like, you have no idea where to start when it comes to offering help. With their pre-baby rough days, you knew exactly what to do: booze, food, maybe shopping, maybe dancing, going for a run (haha, JK, I meant more food). But after they have a baby, it's like you don't know what kind of support to offer.
At least, that's the case when you're childless. After having my own kid, I know exactly how to help my newly babied friends. I will fold laundry and load dishwashers all day long, you guys. I'm here for it.
You Notice The Baby Gear They Don't Have
....and wonder how they hell they're going to live without something that you found indispensable. (Blackout curtains, you guys. I'm so serious.) Before kids, you would've just scanned their nursery and nodded your head like, "Yes, totally, this all looks great, I have no idea, are we going to get burritos now?"
And You Notice The Gear They Do Have
And wonder how you never lived without something. (I guess Boppy pillows are kind of amazing? I wouldn't know, we never had one, but all of my friends who've had kids since me have.)
You Finally Get It
There's something about getting through the early days of parenthood that make you feel like you've accomplished something. It's a hell of an initiation, but there's a reason new parents sometimes hear people say, "welcome to the club." You can definitely be an awesome, supportive friends to new parents even if you've never had a kid. You can. So many people are. But once you've been there yourself, you can finally give the single supportive gesture that means the most: a look that says, "Yo, I know. This is a lot. You're killing it."
Images: Taylor Wasikonis/Romper; Giphy(9)