People have all sorts of advice when you’re having a baby. Sleep while you still can. Wipe warmers are unnecessary. Don’t name your baby after inanimate objects.
Inevitably, though, they’ll tell you that nothing can prepare you for the experience. They’re right. Caring for an infant is downright humbling.
A few notes from my first delirious months of new motherhood:
• My first thought upon seeing parents of teenagers: Really? They’ve all raised babies and survived?
• There are times I’ve waited desperately for my son to doze off. When he finally did, all I wanted to do was watch him sleep.
• Some things seem much less important with a newborn around – like continuing resolutions, sequestration and showering.
• Getting by on five hours of sleep once required loads of Mountain Dew. That much sleep is now a minor miracle.
• If I don’t know you, then, yes, I mind if you touch my baby, and no I do not want to hear about what will make him sleep at night – especially if your advice is to drink a beer immediately before nursing.
• The first time your baby sleeps through the night, you’ll wake up every few hours to make sure he’s OK. It’s a mean trick, because he might not do it again for months.
• Kindergarten feels forever away, but there doesn’t seem to be enough time to save for college.
• Sleep, what’s sleep?
• If someone tries to tell you that newborns are easy because they sleep all the time, don’t believe them. They are clearly suffering from parental amnesia.
• Parents of twins must be miracle workers.
• If you’re having a June baby, don’t bother planting tomatoes in May. You won’t get to the weeds until October.
• Having a wonderful family, good friends and a supportive workplace makes a world of difference – those things, and coffee.
• I completely underestimated the value of sleep.
• There were times, mostly at 3 a.m., when I wondered what I’d gotten myself into. Sunrise was the best cure.
• There is nothing sweeter than my son’s smile in the morning. It’s like he can’t believe his luck that his parents didn’t really disappear overnight.
• Saw a story about the biggest party night of the year. I’m sure I’ll remember what that is when my son returns home from college.
• I’ve never been so acutely aware of time passing. A little person who doubles in size in four months will do that.
• Did I mention how good sleep is?
• People go out of their way to help a pregnant woman with a giant belly. Hardly anyone lets an exhausted new mom with a screaming baby cut in line. The dirty looks are reserved for her.
• It’s the worst feeling in the world to realize you won’t be able to protect your baby from the pain in the world. You learn that the first day he gets shots.
• Do not wear dangly earrings.
• Everybody warns you of the sleepless nights and thankless diaper changes. Nobody warns you of the terrifying fear that this little being is depending completely on you.
No books or advice could prepare me for the absolute joy and fear of motherhood. There’s nothing more heartwarming. Even at 4 a.m.