My baby turned six a few weeks ago. My oldest is eleven. What just happened? I started thinking about the past years as a parent and how things have changed. No more packing the van full for a day trip. No more diapers, and bottles, and pack-n-plays. My mind drifts to those days with a newborn. Newborns are deceptively cute. Yet, they have the power to bring any new parent to their knees. Those days of new babies are over for me, but the memories remain. These are a few tips I remember about having a newborn:
1. Read the book, The Baby Whisperer, but do not expect to be a baby whisperer.
2. Talk to other moms with newborns. But just the ones who keep it real. The ones who wear yoga pants and have a little spit up in their pony tail.
3. Not breastfeeding is OK. Breastfeeding is OK. In a few years, it will cease to be a topic of daily conversation with other moms because your babies will be preschoolers and you can debate homeschooling vs. public school. Or something else equally heated.
4. Add at least an hour to the time you think it will take you to get you and your baby ready and out the door. Because inevitably you’ll get in the car and realize you forgot something important. It could be your keys, extra diapers, your mind. You’ll go into get said item and baby will have pooped his weight leading to a massive terror of poop in clothes and surrounding area. You’ll realize the best way to remedy the situation is to dump baby in the bath. You’ll get him and the hazardous zone cleaned up. By this time the baby will be hungry so you’ll either whip out a boob or use your bottle that was meant for the trip (which you will need to replace before leaving). The baby will be nice and fed and happy (maybe). As you pick up your bundle of joy, he’ll let out an enormous burp which leaves you covered in curdled milk. You will wonder how milk can really smell that bad in the ten minutes since it left your body/bottle. You’ll go change your clothes. Finally, you head out again only to remember you don’t know where you left your keys, diapers, mind. You’ll go back in to find them and the cycle may or may not begin again.
5. Keep your sense of humor. Or at least some semblance of it. It’s hard to find the humor in being drenched in explosive diarrhea, but thinking about how funny this story will be years later when you’ve caught up on your sleep (it may take years) might make it a little easier to handle. And if you go out to buy some clothes after having your baby because you can’t put one leg in your pre-pregnancy clothes, and after trying on clothes in numerous stores you finally realize that you have on mismatched shoes which are not even the same color (which you have taken off numerous times to try on plus size clothing), you can go home and reenact the story to your husband so he can laugh hysterically.
6. Practice the mantra, “This too shall pass.” Because it will. Pass. Quickly. Or at least it will seem that way when you look back. The first three weeks of my first child’s life were the longest of my life. But now it just seems like a distant memory. The mind numbing days of tears and tantrums (the baby may have them too) will pass. So will the drool-drenched smiles and innocent giggles. All will pass. New struggles and triumphs will begin. Take a deep breath and enjoy the ride.