1. Try to start the day with a shower. Okay this might seem silly or unimportant. However I have managed to shower almost every day since having Ryley (early on when my husband or family member was there to help, and now when she naps, (usually we manage at least 20 minutes of napping in the rock n’ play or crib)). I am not an obsessive shower person. I do not think it is horrible to go more than one day without showering. And yet for some reason after having a baby it has become one of my priorities. The first few weeks it felt essential just because you’re so physically spent and feel so gross (one word: pads, and another word: blow out diapers, oh and throw in spit up there too) that a shower can be the only thing that makes you feel like a somewhat functional person. And now whenever I shower in the morning I feel like I start my day with a victory. Even if the baby refuses to nap again in the crib and I don’t get all the other things done I need to that day, at least I managed to get in one thing that is entirely for me and my sanity. It might be “selfish” to take that time to shower when I could be, oh I don’t know, cleaning the windows or exercising the dogs in the yard, but I think a new mom needs to do at least one “selfish” thing every day, whether it’s a shower or a glass of wine (heck bring the wine in the shower and really make a day of it!). And honestly it’s not really selfish because neither the husband nor the baby want me to be smelly.
2. Not all babies fall asleep in the car. I feel like this is one of those truisms of parenting you always hear, that a car ride will instantly lull a baby, and that with a fussy baby all you have to do is put her in the car and she will become a sleeping angel the second the wheels start rolling. This may be true for some babies, even most babies, but it is not true for my baby. She does not care for the car. On our best trips she treats it with open disdain before eventually sleeping in fits and starts (if we time it really well and she has just eaten right before we get in the car). On our worst trips (and we drive a lot because we live in the burbs bordering on boonies, and I like the city and doing things in the city), she screams like a rabid hyena for the entirety of the drive. I play music. I roll down the window. I wedge her pacifier (the kind with the stuffed animal attached) under her car seat strap so it stays near her face. When there are two of us, I will sit in the back and physically hold her pacifier in her mouth. And yet in spit of all of this, she sometimes still screams like she is a baby POW being water-boarded. At the end of these trips, we are all frayed nerve endings in desperate need of a drink (even the baby I think, if babies were allowed such things). At times this has made me second think ever leaving our house. But instead of turning to agoraphobia (which again, is SO EASY these days thinks to Amazon Now), I have steeled myself and continued to venture out into the world, hoping desperately that she doesn’t still scream her head off during car rides when she is 17.
3. Pregnancy hormone fun does not stop at childbirth. I kind of thought I was done with all the fun hormone related things when I delivered the baby. I was wrong. That continues apparently, possibly forever. The highlights so far: menopause like night hot flashes that leave me drenched in sweat, teenage-like acne erupting all over my chin a couple of weeks ago, and recently my hair falling out in huge clumps. The fun of being a woman never stops right?
I know this is temporary. I know that it shall pass and once the baby is older it will be so sweet to see the dogs interact with her (George in particular, who for all his annoying traits, is also the happiest and most loving dog in the world, to the point where he smothers you with his love). I know it is not their fault, and they have been abruptly shoved to the side in terms of their importance in our lives, and that this is not easy for them. And I remind myself of these things about 20 times a day, which is the number of times I dream of ways to get rid of them.
6. You will learn to eat faster and more disgustingly than you ever have before. This one is fairly self-explanatory, but I will say that you will never eat faster than when you have a newborn who is briefly sitting happily in her seat or asleep in the crib. I have literally unhinged my jaw to down a full dinner in like 2 minutes. There is no such thing as a leisurely meal with a newborn. And at restaurants? Forget it. If your baby is actually sitting in her car-seat not crying and you have a restaurant meal in front of you, you will eat so fast that you should probably just have whoever is with you standing by to do the Heimlich. This is one instance I should say where I am appreciative of our dogs, because typically my meals are eaten in such haste and with such wild abandon, that there is a pile of debris on the floor by the end of it.
As a side note to this, I met up with two girlfriends from nursing school the other day for lunch and we all had our babies with us (their babies are 1 and 3, so not quite so much babies). At one point I looked around and had to laugh, because I was standing up in the middle of the restaurant rocking Ryley who had had enough and was crying, my other friend was trying to feed her 1 year old who was not having the highchair, and my third friend was chasing her 3 year old around because she wanted to visit every table in the restaurant (and she’s so cute that of course everyone was thrilled to meet her). I thought back to our lunches 4 years ago where we talked uninterrupted for hours over mimosas. Times, they have a changed. And yes, we were those people I probably used to snidely groan about when I was trying to enjoy my pre-baby meal in peace and quiet. Karma is a bitch.
7. There is no such thing as a “quick errand.” I feel in some way this is the strangest thing to get used to. Sometimes I will be heading back from somewhere with the baby and remember that I need say, toothpaste, or to pick up a new pair of sandals. I’ll just stop on the way back, I think. And then I look in my rearview mirror and notice the baby and remember that there is no “stopping by” anymore. Any “stop by” is a full-blown production that requires elaborate planning, possibly with a detailed map and spreadsheets. There are just so many decisions to make. Do I bring the baby in her car-seat to run in somewhere so I don’t have to unbuckle her and really piss her off? If I do that I am immediately handicapped because the car-seat, which seemed so light when we purchased it, feels like it weighs about 100 pounds when I am lugging it around the supermarket. Do I put her in the sling? This works, but then I am faced with the whole getting her in and out of the car-seat which will guarantee some fussiness. Do I even bother bringing the diaper bag in? What if she has a blowout in the middle of the store and the diaper back is in the car? I will debate these things for a while until typically I drive right past the place I wanted to stop, go home, put on yoga pants and order whatever I needed on Amazon Now.
8. You will lie to your pediatrician. I’m sorry but unless you are textbook “perfect” parent (which according to baby forums there are plenty out there), you will probably lie to your child’s doctor. I’m not talking about important stuff here, like if your baby is having wet diapers or eating enough. I am in healthcare. Do not lie if your kid is having say, neon orange poops or spiking fevers every other day. Your doctor needs to know these things. But when it comes to the lifestyle, parental judgment type things, the stuff that is not really a doctor’s expertise versus opinion, you will probably fib a little. I certainly have. According to my doctor my baby sleeps angelically in our bedside bassinet and eats 6ish times a day. The reality is that the baby sleeps next to me (at least for now, we are working on transitioning!) and sometimes still eats 10-12 times in 24 hours. I’m not perfect. My baby is not perfect. We are still figuring things out, and right now that means doing things that are not textbook all the time. I’m not an idiot. I know what’s generally okay versus just stupid. So yeah, I do occasionally fudge things a little with the pediatrician, and I’m guessing that most parents out there will at some point do the same. Unless you are one of those perfect online forum parents that does everything perfectly. In which case, you are probably so horrified at my hippie, loosie-goosie parenting style that you have stopped reading already.
9. Don’t get so hung up on schedules. I am type A. I am a planner. And a perfectionist. I love schedules and itineraries and am never late. Needles to say it has been difficult for me to accept that at least for the first few months, scheduling a baby is near impossible. Oh but there are people out there who will tell you this not true, that you can in fact schedule an infant to within an inch of their teeny lives. There are “experts” who will swear that a baby can be as regimented as a little soldier. And you know what, some days this will be the case. Some days you can “EASY” a baby (eat, activity, sleep, you time) and they will follow this and you will feel like the most accomplished parent in all the land. You will get an entire day with this pattern and be on top of the world. But then the next day it may all fall apart. Your baby will fall asleep immediately after eating, and no amount of encouraging “activity” time is going to make your baby want to play instead of sleep, because as much as it’s hard to admit, your baby at this stage in her life is the BOSS. She is not your employee. You cannot hand your baby the itinerary for the day in the morning with strict instructions to stay on task. Newborn babies eat when they want to eat, sleep they want to sleep, and poop when they want to poop. And you can spend the first few months of a baby’s life fighting this tooth and nail (I am not immune to this, I have spent many moments stressed out because my baby didn’t have as much active alert time as I feel she should have), or you can accept that babies are as unpredictable as wild animals and go with it. Also I’ve learned that every second you spend stressing out over your 2 month old’s schedule is a second you are not enjoying your two month old. If she falls asleep after eating enjoy that nap with her in the Boppy, because a ten year old is not going to sleep in your arms. If she wants to eat more frequently than normal, go with it because she is probably in a growth spurt and needs more nutrition. Again I am by no means great at this (see Type A personality) but I try to remember that this newborn time is so short and that the more Captain Von Trapp I am about it all, the more of the good stuff (no, actually great stuff) I will miss.