Molly Smith/Romper

Motherhood Is All A Phase — The Good, The Bad, And The Messy

By Hitha Palepu
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It’s all a phase.

His little body curling up on my chest, light as a feather. The cries and tears as he tries to latch. The pain from my C-section incision. The little squeaks and chirps in his sleep that wake me from my own.

As these moments fade into memory, new ones enter. There are the hangry cries as I rush to heat up a bottle. The amazed look on my son’s face as he lifts his head off the mat and his eyes meet mine. The giant, gummy grins that (sometimes) aren’t the result of gas. The struggle to keep his little arms down as I swaddle him at night.

Parenthood. It’s all a phase.

Photo: Molly Smith; Design: Allison Gore/Romper.

There’s a quiet confidence that comes with being a second-time mother that's allowing me to live by those words. The snuggles are a little bit sweeter, because they’ll only be this little for so long. The cries aren’t nearly as heart-wrenching — they’re hungry, need to be changed, or colicky (and I promise you, dear friend, that colic is also a phase and you will survive it). The nighttime feedings — which feel never-ending in those early days — do indeed end, and you’ll find yourself missing those quiet moments in the dark, feeling their breath on your neck as you try and get out that last burp.

I don’t remember these moments with my first son, Rho. I only remember being exhausted and stressed and worried. And while I do know I was thrilled the first time he smiled at me, the first time he rolled over and crawled, or when he squealed at my excitement at the last game of the 2015 football season, I also know these memories with him are fewer — and that feels bittersweet.

Here’s what I do remember about the early months with my firstborn: I remember pacing my apartment every evening from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., playing a mind-numbing playlist and gently rocking him in my arms because that was the only thing that would calm him down. This was our routine every night, from when he was 3 weeks to 3 months old, and I can still recall my dread as the minutes ticked closer to 5 p.m.

I remember calling my pediatrician every week about every little thing. The diaper rash was perfectly normal, and airing out the butt and triple butt paste slathered like a cupcake on his tush did the trick. The two weeks when he spit up everything he drank? It’s reflux, and propping up one side of his crib mattress with a rolled up towel was all it took.

I remember crying over feeding him, constantly. Nursing never worked for us, so I spent countless hours pumping and sterilizing the pump parts until the stress of it all plummeted my milk supply. We tried four different bottles until we finally found one that worked. And as soon as I fed him and changed him, washed everything, and sat down for a breather, it was time to feed him all over again.

And the diaper changes. Oh, the diaper changes.

There were blowouts. There was pee in my face, more times than I’d like to admit. There were the unnecessary diaper changes you do because you don’t know why your baby is crying and you are trying anything and everything. And then there were the (thankfully soft and absorbant) Pampers Swaddlers I used as tissues because I was in tears over how hard it all is. Plus, I’d forgotten to pick up a new box of tissues while running errands.

Four years later, I’m slightly wistful for those survival moments with Rho, but I am grateful for them, as they’ve helped me enjoy all the phases of early parenthood with baby Rhaki.

I have my giant stability ball ready for the witching hours, and I let his big brother play DJ and pick the music for our family dance parties. My pump station is always fully stocked, and we always have a can of formula and a few bottle options on hand. He will always be fed, and I am fine with whatever and however that happens. Pampers Swaddlers are everywhere in our home — in the nursery, in our changing station in the family room, and in every single bag I own. They’re always ready for a diaper change, a tear wipe, or, these days, a source of entertainment for Rho. (He’s recently taken to making his own hats with his brother’s diapers or changing his stuffed animal’s diaper when I’m changing Rhaki’s. I’ve embraced his phase, and keep the diapers in their own little basket to be reused.)

Photo: Molly Smith; Design: Allison Gore/Romper.

As Rhaki grows, there will be more moments to survive and savor. There will be the first time he rolls over, the transition from his bassinet to his crib, switching from his triple swaddle situation to a sleep sack. The day will come when he starts scooting over to his brother’s toys and tries to play with them, and the first time his brother pushes him over and screams “No!”

There will be his first food. And his next food. And his next. And with food, there will be the food-filled diapers that are their own rite of parenthood.

There will be the regular packing up of too-small clothes and diapers into vacuum-sealed bags, to pass along to friends and other expecting moms who are about to experience their own evolution.

And there will be the wistful and exciting moments of buying Pampers in a new size, from Swaddlers to Cruisers to Easy Ups.

It’s all a phase. And I will savor — and survive — all of them.

This post is sponsored by Pampers.