I have been a mom for six weeks now. I love my little Ryley more than I could have ever imagined. She is the best thing I have ever done, and I still feel that way on the days where literally all she does is either eat, cry, or poop (sometimes all three simultaneously). But you didn’t come here to hear about all that mushy stuff. This is about what those first few weeks are really like, the things I’ve learned, and the moments that have made the most indelible impressions.
1. Anything you said you would NEVER do as a parent, you will probably do as a parent. I’ll be honest. I was a little big for my britches, and thought I knew more or less what it would be like to be a mom. I’ve been around babies most of my life, from babysitting to being a nanny to working as a pediatric nurse. I’m an aunt to three awesome little kiddos and have seen them grow up. I thought I knew the basics pretty well, and was sure there were things I would or wouldn’t do with my own kids. Now I know what a dumb dumb I was. Because quite honestly, you do what works. In my head I had idyllic visions of the first night at home with baby. I would swaddle her perfectly and then place her, sleeping peacefully, in the bassinet next to the bed. Yeah no. Ryley fights out of her swaddle like a particularly feisty mental patient would a straight jacket. Every time we have attempted to put her in the bassinet she screams like a wildebeest. And so the first few nights she slept in the Rock N’Play. And then when she stopped sleeping longer than 10 minutes straight in the Rock N’Play (and the fact that its creakiness drove my poor, light sleeping husband bonkers) she slept on me, and then beside me. And that is more or less what we do now. She naps during the day in the Rock N’Play and then every night we try to put her down in her pac and play in a swaddle. This has lasted anywhere from 30 seconds to 30 minutes. At this point she comes in the bed, because the alternative is that no one sleeps. We are safe about it (yes, yes I know, co-sleeping is never 100% safe, trust me I have said those exact words, and I ate those exact big words big time). I do not want to co-sleep forever or even for particularly long, but at this point, when there are nights when the baby eats every two hours on cue, and when she is too young to be “trained” to do anything, much less sleep, it just works. And it works well. I sleep. She sleeps. There are fewer tears on everyone’s parts. I’m pretty confident in assuming at some point in the near future we will be able to transition her into her crib, and she will not need to co-sleep with me in college.
I am sure there will be many more of these things to come, that I vowed to never do as a parent, only to be proven totally and utterly wrong.
2. You will be a milk machine. I knew breastfeeding was time consuming. I knew it was a commitment, but I don’t think I quite grasped how completely it takes over your life in the early stages. For the first 30 years of my life, I have pretty much been in charge of my body parts (minus when I was a baby and wet and soiled myself, but you get what I mean). I kind of assumed that for the rest of my life this would be the case. But after having a baby, my boobs staged a coup. They are now absolutely the bosses of me. And they don’t just run my life. They run our household. They are actually going to be filing taxes this year independently. You think I’m exaggerating? You clearly have never breastfed. In the hospital they said I would need to breastfeed every 2-3 hours. And that sounded like a lot but doable. Because I would have 2-3 hours between feeds right? Right? Um no. That 2-3 hours is between the start of one feed to the start of the next. And babies, they are not the fastest eaters. My baby is glacially slow when it comes to eating. She is like a little old lady daintily picking at a salad with little bird bites. There is no since of urgency. Sometimes she takes an entire hour to feed. So that then leaves one hour when a little person is not physically attached to your person. And that’s six weeks later. The first couple of weeks Ryley liked to “cluster feed.” Basically this is the equivalent of standing in front of your fridge and trying one snack and then another a few minutes later, and then maybe another a little after that. She would be off the boob for like 15 minutes before vocally demanding her next fix.
The only option is just to totally surrender and let your boobs (and baby) run the show. Really survival at this point is joint venture between the two of them and you are a pesky third wheel. Sure this makes it difficult to do a lot of things that last longer than an hour (the first time I left the house without the baby I went to Kroger and I seriously felt like a contest on supermarket sweeps because of the giant timer in my head counting down the minutes until the baby would want to eat again, who knows what I bought, I was flying down aisles throwing things into my cart with reckless abandon). But the upside is you can be a total sloth without judgment or guilt. Binge watching Netflix or Hulu shows is no longer something you do furtively, knowing the whole time you should be doing something productive. When you are breastfeeding you are sustaining a life. It cannot get more productive than that. So if you want to watch the entire series of Real Housewives of NYC then go for it and go for it without any shame.
3. You quickly learn what baby gear you wasted money on and what is so essential you are tempted to cart it with you every time you leave the house. For me the biggest waste of money was the bassinet. Ryley hates it. And I don’t really blame her. It is hard and plastic and completely lacking in the cozy factor, like something a Soviet era Russian baby would sleep on. And I know that this is safe and to prevent SIDS, but the crib mattress isn’t anywhere near as harsh. For some reason the bassinet was made to be as uncomfortable as humanly possible. So we are currently using it to hang clothes on. Also could have gone without buying approximately 50 newborn onesies. Ryley was 8 pounds at birth, and the newborn onesies fit her for a couple of weeks. I literally bought short and long sleeved versions of this size in every color of the rainbow. And like two 3 month ones, which is the size she actually needs. Now I know that what you really need for a newborn are like 10 one piece outfits with footies and the sleeves that you can fold over their hands (to prevent them from scratching the crap out of themselves with their razor-like fingernails). There is no point in buying a newborn “day outfits” as I thought I needed. Maybe like one for the first trip out of the house when you want to impress everyone. Otherwise it’s all about the outfit that works for day and night (much like my own outfits the first few weeks, which I also could both sleep and lounge in).
In the essential category are the Rock N’Play, a cheap little Fisher Price bouncy seat, those Wubba pacifiers with stuffed animals attached (helps to anchor them and keep them in the baby’s mouth), Baby K’Tan sling (we use this so much more than a stroller right now, because it soothes her instantly and it’s easier to maneuver on walks, plus you can wear your baby all sorts of places, like breweries!).
5. It has become SO easy to be a shut in. The first few weeks with a baby are not a time when you’re out a lot. We actually have ventured out a good bit, thanks to nice spring weather, and the fact that my husband had a full month off. But now that it’s just the baby and me most days, our trips are a little limited. And yet, it’s hard to stay in all the time and not run out of food and toilet paper and all that good stuff. Enter a dazzling array of services that deliver these things STRAIGHT TO YOUR DOOR. It really is a good era to have a baby. I can’t imagine having one decades ago when you had no choice but to venture out for sustenance. These days you can go months without leaving your house and not starve or run out of toilet paper even. Not that I recommend not leaving your house for months, but you get the idea. We have done some Amazon Now action (Isn’t this the greatest invention since sliced bread? You can order ICE CREAM to be delivered, enough said) and also signed up for Blue Apron (their recipes are sometimes a little more complex in the steps department than I’d like, but so far have all been really, really tasty). Oh and we get our dog food delivered monthly. And I have been hitting up Target online big time (one day delivery and free shipping). And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. There are a whole host of other services that will bring almost anything you could need to your door. It is a lazy person/misanthrope’s world these days, and I am loving it right now.
5. The first time you go somewhere with your baby by yourself you feel like you should get a medal of some kind. So yes, I have been getting Fresca and Cliff bars delivered to my door the past few weeks, but now that Ryley is almost six weeks old I realized I do need to get used to leaving the house with her without backup. Yesterday was my first trip out (not counting to my parents’ house and the Chick-Fil- A drive through). We went to Whole Foods. I wore her in the sling and wore Birkenstocks (without thinking about the full picture) and felt like such a Whole Foods customer cliché that I almost went home out of sheer embarrassment, but I soldiered on. And it went well. Like I said we could not have been more of their target demo so no one even batted an eye at a baby in a sling in the cheese aisle. Elated by my success I got cocky and stopped by the Chick-Fil-A drive through for a Coke Zero. Ryley may love her sling but she does not love the carseat. She started screaming the moment we stopped to order and screamed the remainder of the time we were in the very long line. And I felt like a jerk for making my daughter cry because I needed a Coke Zero fix (if I had ordered food too it would have been another matter, because Chick-Fil-A food is worth any sacrifice). Despite that bump, today I ventured out to Target. And even though Ryley cried most of the way there and back, she did great inside the store (again in her sling, in her carseat would be a different matter). It’s really not that big a deal to leave the house with a baby and I have done it as a nanny, but the first time you do it with your own child you really feel like there should be a ticker tape parade and balloons awaiting your return.
6. You will never have more manic episodes of productivity than when your baby naps (not on you) or has quiet awake time on the playmat. It is seriously like a starting pistol goes off the second I put Ryley down in the Rock N’Play. The hardest thing is the first moment when you have to choose what to do with this rare time you do not have a baby attached to your boob or in your arms. Usually I end up freaking out so much that I try to do like five things at once, and then realize a few minutes later that I cannot simultaneously empty the dishwasher and pay the bills. I have gotten more done in these 10-20 minute periods than I used to get done in an entire day.
7. Mom guilt is for real. I was raised a Catholic and like all children who grew up in Catholic schools I have serious struggles with guilt. But even the crushing guilt of Catholicism can’t compare to mama guilt. And the thing about the guilt associated with motherhood, particularly at the newborn stage, is that it is often completely irrational. Because really there’s not a lot you can do at this point to feel guilty for. It’s not like I’m missing ballet recitals or picking her up late from school. And yet still I have had moments of just soul crushing guilt over things as inoffensive as going out to Kroger by myself (the NERVE of me right?) or finishing my shower and washing the soap out of my hair even though I hear that she has woken up in the other room. There have been a couple of times when we’ve been out and she’s gone 3-4 hours without eating (happily mind you, usually in her sling), and yet I felt terrible when I finally feed her because clearly she’s on the brink of starvation (I mentioned this mom guilt is irrational right?). And don’t even get me started on car rides. Usually she falls asleep as soon as the car moves, but there have been a couple of times when she has stayed awake and screamed the entire drive like we were waterboarding her. And even though I know she is safe and secure in that carseat and that she’s just being a baby and babies cry at stupid shit, I still feel waves of guilt and shame. This mom guilt thing is a doozy, and I know it will only get more intense when I actually make mistakes and have real reasons to feel guilty. But like any good Catholic I will get through it with the help of lots of wine.
8. Buy a sling. I actually learned this years ago when I nannied for my at the time 3 month old niece and the only place she was truly happy was in a sling (with the Black Eyed Peas “I’ve Got a Feeling” playing). So I ordered a sling for Ryley before she was born (Baby K’Tan, see bullet point #3 on essential baby items). It really is a lifesaver. Ryley doesn’t spend quite as much time in hers as my niece did, but it has without fail gotten her to quiet down on those rare super fussy occasions when nothing else has worked. It is also the main way we take her out. Carseats are heavy and strollers are bulky. The sling is just a nice, unobtrusive way to bring a baby with you to say, a brewery, and not have to hire a Sherpa to get you, your husband, your baby, and your stuff inside the place. Plus it’s always fun to watch people do double takes when they realize that you aren’t just wearing a particularly bulgy scarf, but that there is a little person in there peeking out. I’m not going to go into all of the scientific reasons why “baby wearing” is good for mom and baby. I just know that my daughter quiets instantly in her sling and that as an added bonus I have my arms free to actually do stuff (like at this exact moment I am typing away with baby in the sling). Another added bonus is that you can eat with your baby in a sling (just not like soup, because that’s a burn hazard). Definitely a purchase that more than returns its investment.
9. As soon as you have a day where you feel like you’ve gotten into a routine, the next day everything will fall to pieces. Newborns cannot be scheduled. Let me repeat this. Newborns cannot be scheduled. If you are like me, an anal retentive type A personality, this can be difficult to accept. There are books out there that will tell you that a newborn can in fact be scheduled. This is a lie. Sure you can try, but this will be like trying to schedule a hamster, silly and ultimately futile. Just go with it. Some days Ryley will take a 90 minute nap. Sometimes she will have days where she only sleep 15-30 minutes at a time, but does this like 10 times. Some nights she goes 3-4 hours without eating (this is only now, at six weeks, beginning to happen). Some nights she wakes up every 1.5-2 hours. Sometimes she poops five times a day. Sometimes once. There is no rhyme or reason to a baby’s life people. They are like college students, or drunks. I sometimes get frustrated, but then I try to remember that eventually she will get on a schedule, and right now it’s all about getting her to adjust to life outside the uterus. If you spent ten months underwater in the dark, getting all of your food and oxygen through a tube in your belly button, you might need a little time to adjust too.
Addendum to this lesson: It’s important to get your baby used to some loose routine, but don’t be so obsessed with trying to do this that you miss out on those perfect moments that only exist in this weird, magical newborn time. I really want Ryley to be able to sleep in something versus only on people. I don’t want her to only be able to sleep in someone’s arms. And so I’m usually pretty big on putting her down in the Rock and Play or Pac and Play when she falls asleep. But sometimes when I am about to put her down so that I can clean or make a phone call or do something else adult and productive, I stop and remind myself that this stage will pass. In what will probably feel like a second, she will be too big to sleep on my chest, and I will be left to miss that feeling of her little body pressing into mine, the weight and warmth of her. So in these moments, I let her sleep on me. I breathe in her little baby smell and try to imprint these times deeply into my soul and memory. Maybe it will mean that she will take longer to get into a routine, but if getting into a routine sooner means that I will have fewer of those perfect moments with her asleep on my chest, then screw it. She will have the rest of her life to be on a routine.
10. Try not to think ahead all the time. This is the HARDEST thing to do. And it’s what we do in life in general, baby or not. You always want to think ahead to the next thing in life, whether it’s a vacation or a holiday or a job promotion. With a baby it’s so hard to not flip the pages of the baby book and look forward to smiles and laughs and walking. It’s hard not to play the “Life will be so much easier when…” game. And I’ve found myself doing it a lot, thinking “I can’t wait for her to sleep through the night. I can’t wait for her to be more interactive.” But babies change so quickly, that you really have to enjoy the present and soak in whatever stage you are in. Sure she will be more interactive in a couple of months and that will be fantastic, but she won’t be the same sweet, floppy little newborn she is now. I know I will miss this stage when that times come. So I’m trying really hard to just embrace every day, to not wish away this newborn time by constantly looking ahead. I’m trying to soak in the little reflexes that will vanish soon (I don’t know what use the startle reflex truly has other than being really amusing to watch), the way she grips my finger, the baby hiccups, the silly, surprised expressions she makes when she is trying to focus her eyes, the “milk” or “angel” smiles she makes while sleeping. I know these things will fade, and soon, and so instead of waiting for what comes next, sometimes I try to stop, look around, and take in all of the texture and detail and color of right now. Because right now is pretty darn wonderful.
I stayed in the hospital for about two full days and two nights after having Ryland. We could have technically finagled a late release after just one night, but both the OB and pediatricians recommended another night, and by staying a second night we got a fancy, special chef prepared meal (one of the perks of being a hospital employee). I’m all for following medical advice, but let’s face it, the decision to stay was largely due to us not wanting to miss out on crab cakes and filet mignon, oh and carrot cake, such delicious cream cheese frosted carrot cake.
The 48-ish hours we were there are kind of a blur, but I definitely took away some pretty firm impressions that ran the gambit from the good, the bad, and the mesh pantied.
1. After having a baby, you briefly become a baby. As I have mentioned on this blog I am an RN, and I happily help kids and teenagers use bedpans. I stand cheerily in the bathroom while a child tries to have his or her first BM in days. I catheterize people and place suppositories. None of that embarrasses me or grosses me out in the slightest. I have always felt though, that on the other end of the equation, I would be hugely embarrassed. Turns out, not the case. For the first few hours after Ryland was born in particular, when my legs were still mostly numb from the epidural and I was dizzy and weak from the labor process, I completely relied on my wonderful L&D RN (seriously she was the BEST, for the next child I may request an induction specifically for when she is there). The first time I got out of bed she half carried me to the bathroom while still managing to hold an absorbent bed pad under me for the walk (not to overshare, let’s just say there is a LOT of blood that comes out after baby, particularly if you had an episiotomy/tore). She helped me sit on the toilet to try and pee and when that didn’t work she did a catheter with ease. She knew we had visitors arriving and she sweetly cleaned up my bed and me so it didn’t look like a crime scene in front of family. Later before we were transferred to Mother/Infant she helped me get in the shower (one of the best showers of my life, even if I had to take it sitting down). I was during this period a physical train wreck to put it mildly, and totally dependent on my nurse for a lot of things I haven’t been dependent on a person for since I was a baby. The best thing you can hope for in this scenario is to have a nurse like mine who takes total care of you quietly, efficiently, and sweetly and lets you focus on the new baby in your arms.
2. Perineal care. We just have to get this one out of the way, so if talk of perineums makes you uncomfortable, you are probably in the wrong place. I won’t go into serious detail but I will say that a whole new world of products opened up to me that became ridiculously essential in the week after childbirth. Among them, giant burrito size maxi pads that double as ice packs, mesh boy short style underwear that in addition to being unbelievably attractive allow you to wear said pads that are nearly the size of an adult diaper, little pads soaked in witch hazel (available at your nearest Target in the hemorrhoid section, which is the coolest and not at all humiliating section you can possibly shop in at a Target), and a little plastic squirt bottle that you fill with warm water to use instead of toilet paper for obvious reasons. Oh that little plastic squirt bottle. If I had the wherewithal and mental capacity to write a poem about it that first week I would have. I know there are some women who bring a full on glam squad’s worth of makeup and hair products to the hospital, and that’s all fine and good if it’s your thing. But after the baby makes it way out of you, the only “products” you will truly need are the ones you would normally order online because you’d be too embarrassed to buy them at the store.
3. Part of your brain stops working. I am a pediatric RN. I work with kids of all ages including newborns. Occasionally I even float to work in the same Mother/Infant unit where I stayed after the baby came. And yet, I found myself constantly asking the following: “Is that normal?” “Do all newborns do that?” “Is her poop okay?” “What in sweet holy moses was THAT?” Okay fine, the last one I may not have said out loud but I certainly thought it when on the first night Ryland started to gag and then spit up what felt like an exorcist level of clear fluid. If my brain had been working I would have drawn from my work and school experience and known 100% that it was just amniotic fluid and totally normal, but the part of my brain that knew that was on vacation. I think childbirth is a great equalizer, because no matter who you are or what you do, no matter how much medical knowledge you have (my husband is a physician for God’s sake, and he also had similar WTF moments) you can’t help but wonder if every little hiccup or symptom (or alarmingly large, black poo) means something ominous when it’s your own child.
4. It takes a while to accept that you are 100% in charge of another human, particularly when it comes to healthcare related decisions. On our last day in the hospital, the pediatrician who saw Ryland told us she had a “tongue tie.” Basically it means her top and bottom frenulums (a little piece of tissue that connects your tongue to the bottom and top of your mouth) were thicker than normal. (Fun trivia fact that the doctor quizzed us on and that my husband actually knew, Moses is probably the most famous “tongue tied” personality, I had no idea this was the case despite 13 years of Catholic education, so fail on my part ) The main problem with a tongue tie is that it can cause issues with breastfeeding (poor latch, pain, etc). It can also cause speech problems later in childhood. For newborns it can be fixed by “clipping” it in the hospital, a procedure with almost zero risk that takes a minute. If you wait and it ends up needing to be fixed when a kid is older you have to do it in an OR with anesthesia. We were literally packing our bags when this was presented to us, and I remember just having a total freak out moment. We had to make a choice for another human being. This was a fairly low consequence choice and I still felt like I needed several days of research and second opinions. This was not possible so we furiously researched on our phones and I texted my wonderful OB (who texted back right away with her recommendation that it was the right choice). I didn’t witness the procedure but per my husband it was very quick and Ryland took it like a champ. I know this is just one in a series of these choices I will make over the next 18 years and good Lord is it a lot of responsibility and stress. I feel like we did the right thing in this case, but I will know otherwise if I receive her therapy bill in a couple decades.
5. Lactation nurses are terrifying. First let me be clear. I have a LOT of respect for lactation nurses. They are really smart about all things breastfeeding and they help so many women breastfeed successfully. However, let’s be real, they are milk Nazis. Whenever one came to see me in the hospital I felt like I was thrust into a super stressful job interview that I was woefully unprepared for. Only in this case the person who interviews you grabs a hold of your boob and shoves a baby into it. So make that a REALLY stressful job interview. Like I said, I know they mean well and know a lot, but one of these nurses came into my room after our first night (when we ended up giving ONE TINY bottle of formula because I was sleep deprived, hormonal new mom who had been breastfeeding for 6 hours straight and needed just like one hour of sleep without a baby attached to my boob) and basically talked to me like I had given Ryland a shot of whiskey. If I hadn’t been half naked I may have gotten a little uppity, but I just kind of meekly nodded and agreed with what she said (it’s hard to defend yourself eloquently when you’re topless, I imagine strippers would agree with me on this point). We also had to start hiding our pacifiers (btw, Ryland took a pacifier from like hour 2 of life and that has never even slightly interfered with her ravenous desire for boob). Basically lactation nurses are great for a lot of things, but I think they can also be a little harsh on a first time mom. And no matter how many times I tried to replicate the extremely complicated (or at least complicated when you’ve just birthed a human) choreography they showed me for getting a good latch (something about my boob being a sandwich?) I never could. However I figured out a system, which while probably not textbook, works for us.
6. Am I bad person if I miss the days of a good old-fashioned hospital nursery? The hospital where I had Ryland is “baby friendly”, a kind of confusing phrase (are there any hospitals that are openly hostile to babies), but which basically means that they are extremely pro-breastfeeding and do everything to encourage breastfeeding. Which, great. I am totally on board with encouraging breastfeeding. I’m a nurse. I know breast is best (if a woman is able and willing to do this, and if she’s not, that’s totally her choice too and her baby is not doomed to be a serial killer or aggressive mime because they were formula fed). However, I feel like it can go a little overboard, and some well meaning initiatives can end up being baby friendly but really hard on moms. One such initiative at this hospital is that babies do not go to the nursery except on very rare occasions. “Rooming in” is not only encouraged but basically mandated. Babies get their vaccines and blood tests and hearing tests all in the room. And again, I get the upside of this, I really do. It’s supposed to make mom more able to breastfeed on demand and bond with the baby and all that really great stuff. But it also means that you don’t get any kind of break at a time when you really kind of need one. Here’s why it’s hard. You go through one of the, if not the most, physically draining and painful experiences of your life. You don’t sleep. You are bleeding and in pain. A lot of women have just had major surgery. And you are so in love with your baby and want them close of course. But if a nurse has to take the baby out for like an hour or two to do the bath and various procedures and what not, that gives mom just like a second to become a human and sleep or shower or do something that she can’t really do with the baby in the room. That first night I was so physically just DONE. I hadn’t slept in 36 hours. Ryland would not stop crying and would only sleep for like 15 minutes before waking up and signaling she wanted to eat. I know now that she was doing this cluster feeding to get the colostrum and stimulate my milk to come in and that it’s all good and healthy, but at the time I just felt like she was starving and I couldn’t give her what she needed. Because I was sleep deprived and hormonal and exhausted. And if a nurse could have taken her to the nursery for just like the tiniest fraction of time to let me sleep, I probably would not have asked for formula (and gotten scolded by the lactation nurse as a result). So ultimately I’m not sure if this is as “baby friendly” as hospitals like to think. I get the point and the intentions are good, but shouldn’t hospitals be baby and mama friendly? I think there might be a middle ground that isn’t quite so stringent.
7. Modesty really does go out the window. I cannot over state how nervous I was pre-labor about how exposed I would be both during and after labor. I am really a pretty modest person (I don’t even like going for walks on crowded beaches just in a bikini), and thought the whole experience would be humiliating. Nope. Obviously during labor a whole army worth of people saw my lady parts, but this continued during our time in Mother Infant as well. Nurses check your bleeding, stitches, and level of swelling regularly as well as the OB resident on call. There are so many people coming in and out of the room (at a teaching hospital, this includes but is not limited to med students and residents (both pediatricians and OBs), attendings (also pediatricians and OBs), nurses, nursing students, unit secretaries to fill out birth certificate related paperwork, housekeepers, dietary services people with trays, patient care techs, etc). During the first few days of nursing (okay really the first few weeks), you are basically feeding non-stop, which means your boobs are exposed non-stop. And so this whole parade of people walked in on me nursing like 75% of the time. The old me would have been so mentally scarred by this that it would have probably taken therapy to get over it. The new mom me just shrugged and welcomed them in.
8. Visitors are awesome and very welcome. We had some really incredible visitors during our stay in the hospital. Between my husband’s family, my family, and our friends, we were very spoiled. People brought food and drinks. My mom held the baby one afternoon while I napped. My sister even brought champagne (somehow I managed to not crack open that bad boy and gulp it down due to how much I had missed alcohol). There’s not a lot of quiet, solitary time in a hospital but honestly I think that’s for the best. It keeps you going and relatively energized at a time that you might otherwise become a total zombie. Plus you want to show off your incredible baby that is absolutely the best baby every (and that’s without even a trace of bias).
9. I never would have imagined how long you can stare at a baby without getting bored. So newborns don’t do a lot besides eat and poop and sleep. Occasionally they sneeze or yawn. Oh and they hiccup. That about covers all of their tricks. And yet I could have watched Ryland endlessly those first couple of days (okay fine, I still can do that). Maybe it’s because it’s hard to believe, even with the physical evidence in your arms, that this little person who’s been in your stomach for 10 months is actually out in the world. For whatever reason I couldn’t get enough of her face, the constantly changing expressions that flashed across it like lightning when she was in light sleep, the peace of it when she was sleeping more deeply, and of course her eyes when they were open. I loved examining her little toes and fingers. Basically I couldn’t get enough of my sweet little baby. They have TVs in Mother/Infant rooms but really they’re not necessary, because all of the entertainment you need is your baby.
10. It is a little surprising when they actually let you go home with this creature. I like to think of myself as a fairly capable and responsible person. I’m a nurse. I was a nanny or babysitter for years. I pay my taxes and am never late on a bill. I have a good credit score. I’ve pretty much got it together. And yet there was still this holy crap moment when they cut off the baby security band and let us get in the car with our daughter. I’ve managed to keep our dogs alive for a few years now, but there is just an entire new level of craziness to knowing that as parents you are single handedly responsible for keeping a HUMAN alive. And not just alive but healthy and happy. Plus there’s the whole make sure they don’t turn into a sociopath or cult follower or Donald Trump supporter thing. It’s a lot of responsibility. It is shocking to me in some ways that literally anyone can do this. I guess you just do your best. Luckily there is a learning curve and in the early days all you really need to do with a baby is feed her, change her diapers, and make sure the dogs don’t eat her. So far we’ve succeeded with flying colors on all 3 of those (minus a lot of vigorous licking from the dogs, but no nibbles at least).
I'm a thirty-something mom of two, wife, pediatric RN, and writer with a passion for all the big and little things in life.