It all started when I saw 2 lines on a pregnancy test that I didn’t even plan to take in the first place because I didn’t think for a second I could be pregnant. I called J over to see for himself and we both stared at each other in shock at the realization that we were going to be parents in a few short months. In my mind, I still felt like I was 18 years old and on my way to Organic Chem lab, followed shortly after by happy hour with my girls and then a binge-watching session of Nip Tuck and/or Greys Anatomy. Babies having babies, am I right?
Fast forward 9 months, a corporate merger, a new (awesome!) job, a new (lovable!) dog and I’m a mama. My cute, chill, funny husband is now a new dad and we have a tiny one-month old human that depends on us for survival. I’ve always been the happiest when there have been multiple moving parts in my life. Planning a wedding during my residency while settling into a new apartment and co-habitating with a boy (!) for the very first time? Sure, bring it on. Learning to be a parent for the first time with J while making the most of my maternity leave by working on my daunting goal of writing a book before I turn 30 on very little sleep? Bring it on but at the same time, take it easy on me.
I’m questioning everything. Am I changing her diaper the right way? Am I providing enough head support? Is she getting enough food? Is it too soon to take her outside? Is she getting enough fresh air? Am I crazy for writing? Should I be staring at my baby while she sleeps instead? In honor of my tiny human now being over a month old, allow me to share with you what I have learned so far about parenting, babies, my marriage, and myself.
Invest in a baby carrier (or three)
A baby carrier, specifically the Solly Baby Wrap, is a miracle worker. Within 30 seconds, Perry falls asleep, which allows me to have both hands free and then the possibilities are endless! Invest in more than one because you do not want to be stuck in a situation where one is in the laundry and your baby is fed, changed, and still crying.
Get dressed strategically
Do not get dressed to go outside until AFTER you feed your baby because she will spit up on you and you’ll probably already be running late.
Figure out how to function at 4am
I always knew I wasn’t a morning person and now I realize even more so that I’m not a morning person but since i’m up anyway feeding my baby, I might as well make the most of my awake time by checking emails and Instagram obsessively and brainstorming article ideas. Humans can survive on very little sleep. Right?
Continue to be yourself
Start taking your baby to places you love going to, like delicious restaurants (I’m talking to you, Barbuzzo!) and maybe even some art galleries (vibrant colors are good for babies, I think). You may successfully brainwash her into thinking that Luke’s Lobster is much better than Chuck E. Cheese.
Maximize your (lack of) time
I must have wasted a lot of time pre-baby. I always felt like there weren’t enough hours in the day and that feeling has amplified ten-fold since having a baby. On the plus side, having a baby teaches you how to maximize every minute of the day because you just don’t have any other choice.
Minimize the baby gear
Babies require a lot of stuff but not nearly as much as stores have you believe. Our daughter has survived the first month of her life without having her wipes OR towels warmed.
Remember your marriage
Marriage requires more effort than it ever did. The days are broken down into three hour increments and our attention is so focused on the baby that it’s so easy to forget about what allowed this baby to be here in the first place, our relationship. Little things like going for a walk together in our old neighborhood or going out for lunch together as a family for the first time make a huge difference. You may even find yourself staring at your significant other with a look of fear in your eyes as your baby shows the initial signs of a meltdown in a public setting but maybe you’ll laugh about that one day. Even just being the one to wash the bottles while the other person gets a 15-minute break makes a huge difference and can keep you from snapping or worse, turning on each other.
Taking a shower is the equivalent of pressing a reset button. You will feel like you’ve been given a fresh start and a chance to start over…until your baby poops on you.
Infants do not require complete silence to sleep. One of the best and first decisions we made as parents was to not walk around on our tippy toes when our daughter was sleeping. Babies are adaptable so we talk normally, don’t prohibit anyone from calling the house line, let the doorbell ring and listen to music when we want to while she’s sleeping and she manages to stay asleep. Next task, get her to fall asleep in her bassinet instead of our bed.
Having mommy friends is key to staying sane, especially ones that had a baby a few months before you or at the same time as you. Thanks friends for answering my texts at 3am!
Play (good) music
Play music you like instead of endless hours of baby songs to calm your baby. You will have fun jam sessions in the car and your baby will suddenly have amazing taste in music (hello RHCP and Billy Joel) and you won’t have Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star playing on repeat in your head. I know, my taste in music is random and doesn’t have a consistent theme but it’s better than the Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round…round and round…round and round.
Freak out…but not everywhere
Chill parents equals chill baby. So many things happen during the day that can make you anxious and emotionally unstable but I truly feel that the way you react to situations rubs off on your baby’s personality so if you feel like you’re about to freak out, do it in the shower.
There are many things I haven’t learned yet-like how to get my baby to consistently sleep in her bassinet and i’m still desperately trying to create some sort of a routine and cross things off my to-do list, when I even get a chance to create one. I won’t lie, there have been some days when I finish something that wasn’t on my list so I go back and add it, then cross it out. It’s just too good to resist.
There will be days when you start to feel like you know what you’re doing and you get into a groove and some of those days may be followed by 24 hours of no sleep and a cranky baby. Just remember one thing, it’s temporary (that’s what my friends tell me) and she won’t be this little forever. Enjoy these precious moments when you’re all she needs to be happy.
J, I love you. Thank you. I wouldn’t do this all with anybody else.