Granted, I knew that this was going to be the end result of 9 months of awkward bodily functions, a redecoration of our spare room, and all sorts of cooing and weird questions from strangers, friends, and family members alike.
But it’s still baffling nonetheless.
I have a baby now.
Wee Connor was born on October 6th after 26 (!!) hours of labor and an emergency c-section to end it all. The actual labor story is a different story for another day (someone has suggested Halloween as it is, indeed, scary beyond all imagination), but like my cousin said, “Just remember: at the end of it, you get a baby out of the whole thing.” And we have a baby!
As people keep seeming inclined to remind me, I’m a first time mom, so anything I try to do or say or observe about being a mom is seen as somehow adorable and worthy of a semi-sympathetic, semi-patronizing equivalent of a pat on the head. Nonetheless, I have a few observations from my two weeks of first time motherhood that I would like to impart that go beyond the whole, “omg I had no idea how much I’d love this little bundle of tiny human” (even though that is totally true) or “you’re going to be tired because this little person that is suddenly no longer in your insides needs to eat every 2-3 hours and doesn’t care whether or not it’s daytime or nighttime” (which is also totally true).
1. You need more changing pad covers
My friend actually delivered this piece of advice to me via her sister and I sort of listened and bought about 3 more covers immediately. I couldn’t be more happy I did.
Here is what I would advise: think about the number of changing pad covers you think you’ll need. Now double it. Now double that number, and you will maybe come close to having enough changing pad covers. If you are expecting a baby, just start stocking up now.
2. Baby fingernails are the tiniest things in the world
They are impossibly small, y’all. IMPOSSIBLY small. They have to be clipped/cut and I don’t know what I’m going to do about it. Thinking about cutting these perfectly, impossibly, inexplicably minuscule nails almost puts me into a nervous breakdown.
3. Cats are perfect practice for babies
If you have ever had a cat, here is what happens when you first get the cat:
- Become insanely excited about cat
- Buy a multitude of toys that will entertain both you and cat
- Attempt to play with all toys with cat
- Watch and become disappointed when cat is completely disinterested until it finds a quarter on the floor at which point it goes insane with joy and playfulness
We got a very high-end beautiful swing chair thing that has all sorts of “human-like” motions that seem to do nothing but annoy my child and make him cry more (though we had one successful soothing session with it moving…yesterday. Progress!). However, completely stationary this chair seems to be the magical sleeping mechanism that my baby will sleep in without question. The beautiful bassinet that came with my stroller? Fahgeddaboutit. There is no sleeping in the bassinet! (Before I get any lectures, yes, we are working on sleeping in the bassinet instead of the chair, but the point still stands.)
This pattern is never-ending. Luckily, my cat trained me well to deal mentally with such changes in use of toys/seats/what have you. Thanks, Miss Madison!
4. There is nothing that can instill self doubt like fastening a baby into a carseat
The carseat doesn’t care how many times you scream “I HAVE A COLLEGE DEGREE, THIS SHOULDN’T BE THIS HARD!” into the void. The carseat doesn’t care how many times you watch the video on the manufacturer’s website on how to secure a baby into the carseat. The carseat doesn’t care and there is nothing that will instill self doubt into your psyche like wondering if you have secured your infant into his carseat properly.
5. I completely forgot to learn lullabies/songs to sing
Oh, sure, I know the beginning words to “Hush, Little Baby,” but the actual full song? Errrrr…not so much. I know the main words to Sweet Baby James by James Taylor but all of them? Maybe my mind is more like a sieve than a steel trap with age and baby hormones and all, but that last month of pregnancy I really should have been brushing up on songs to sing to Wee Connor, since apparently the only songs I know the full lyrics to are ’90s hits.
6. Chest-napping needs to have a time vortex theorem written on it
Stephen Hawking, I know that you’re busy doing things that make you one of my all-time heroes and generally most revered people I have ever learned about, but I must suggest you begin a study into the time vortex that is a baby napping on your chest.
I think a lot of people have visions of their baby snoozing perfectly in their crib/bassinet from day one. While we absolutely have been trying to enforce this bassinet behavior as much as possible, the chest snooze has occurred. A lot. And seriously folks, it’s pretty much completely awesome. I don’t know what happens to time during this period, and it could just be that the magic of a sleeping newborn speeds up your perception of time, but whatever it is, it’s amazing and highly recommended for a daily dose of pure happiness.
7. There is no joy quite like deleting the labor/contraction timing app off your phone
I think that getting out of the mindset that labor and delivery would be like the movies where you start labor, your water breaks, you scream at your husband/partner for a little while in pain and then you get a baby right after the commercial break was a bit difficult. The reality is you have to stay at home and labor for a good long while before you are admitted into the hospital. Our hospital’s rule was “5-1-1”, meaning that contractions are 5 minutes apart consistently, they last 1 minute a piece, and this pace/length lasts for 1 hour. I started labor around 6AM and we headed to the hospital at 12:30PM, and that 6.5 hours of laboring at home is very normal, if not on the lower end of the scale.
To make things easier on ourselves we used an app called Full Term, which has a few good features such as forcing the app to stay open past your phone’s automatic normal shutoff time, an easily accessible button to start a labor timing contraction (which when you’re in the throws of a contraction you need something excessively easy to press), and the ability to see the contractions over a period of time. The nurses and doctors nowadays will ask you about the measurements of the contractions, and having something easily referrable and tracking just flat-out makes it easy on everyone.
With all that awesomeness of the app, though, I think possibly one of the greatest moments of my life was deleting that app off my phone, knowing that it will literally be years before I’ll need to think about labor again.
I have plenty more observations, of course, but I think I’ll leave it at that for now except for this one last one, since having two hands free is such a rarity these days that getting anything published is a near act of god. Though for all the lacking of hands, the constant wakings and feedings, I can say without a doubt and with complete certainty:
8. It’s totally worth it.