Recently, I was asked to offer some words of encouragement and advice to a friend expecting her first child. My first piece of advice? Pay no attention to even the most well-intentioned pieces of advice. With that said, here are a few things I’ve learned on my 3 trips to baby town.
- Doctors don’t want to scare you, so they don’t tell you exactly how long labor will last. But I will. Labor will last a long time. A few days. Yes, days. I know only two women whose first labors lasted less than 24-hours. Two. (I’m not counting scheduled C-sections.) And when you’re 40 weeks pregnant, anxious to meet your little one, in pain, and don’t know what to expect the whole process will seem excruciatingly long, miserable, and sometimes a bit out-of-control, no matter how well you plan. But you will be okay. You will.
- Get one of these.
Fisher Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper
- People with children who are teenagers or older will tell you to enjoy every minute, that it all goes by so fast. Those people are wrong. You won’t enjoy/savor/cherish every minute. In fact, I think it is far more likely that you’ll find a lot about caring for an infant to be tedious, repetitive, messy, exhausting and not-so-fun. BUT, it gets better, and there are lovely, quiet, rewarding, amazing moments.
- Sometimes you’ll feel like you’re doing everything wrong. You aren’t.
- Forget what the books and registry guides say. Children don’t need much: love, warmth, a food source, and when they get a little older, a toy that makes a crinkly crunchy sound. You have enough and you are enough. Get this whale for the crinkly toy part.
Franky the Hanky Whale by Lamaze
- Don’t feel bad about asking for what you need. If someone asks what they can do to help, tell them to bring food and hold the baby for an hour while you shower and nap. Never underestimate the restorative power of a shower and a nap. (In the reverse, if someone is over-staying their welcome, don’t feel bad about asking them to leave.)
- Bring your own pillow to the hospital. The bed is uncomfortable enough. Don’t add to your misery by sleeping on a pillow encased in rubber.
You got this, Mama.
… Bruce Springsteen concerts. Laurel Snyder’s blog post, “On being a serious fan…” sums it up nicely.
… beets. They taste like earth smells, only sweeter. And they’re the most beautiful color.
… my son’s double hair whorl and the back of his soft little neck.
… pedicures. Sure, this is an obvious one, but truly, I think I should be able to write these off as medical expenses – they’re that good for me.
… going out to eat by myself. I first got used to this when I was traveling solo. Now, I use this as “me” time. I don’t have to cook, I clean out my purse, or write a note to someone, or check out the NYT headlines on my iPhone.
… my new purse. Even when I’m feeling worn out, my purse makes me feel shiny and bright. A little tacky? Yep, probably. And I don’t care.
… this contraption: The Fisher Price Rock ‘N’ Sleeper. Portable, cozy, and better than those little baby bouncy seats. Why didn’t I have one of these when Mr. Pickle Pumpkin was teeny?
… my grunting, snorting little newborn girl. She is hysterical. She is noisy, and sounds like an 8 pound elephant. Must remember to videotape her antics to play for her prom date!
Plum Baby is two weeks old today. She is really pretty amazing. She is growing like crazy. And is really pretty reasonable. She doesn’t fuss too much, is soothable, and sleeps in 3 hour chunks (sometimes). And big brother has been amazing – gentle, kind, concerned and helpful. Sometimes I look at the two of them and cannot believe my luck.
Okay, now all the mushy, lovey stuff is out of the way…
This is hard. Really hard. And today I am tired.
Who am I kidding? Every day I am tired. And today I don’t feel like talking about how lucky I am (I am), or how good I have things (I do). Indulge me while this tired mama whines a little.
Today was a 12-hour day alone with the 2 peanuts. Did I rely on “Wheels on the Bus” on repeat on my iPhone, and DVRed versions of “Yo Gabba Gabba”? I did. Did baby fuss and cry and otherwise not sleep for an eternal 4 hour stretch during dinner –> bath –> bedtime? She did. Did Mr. Pickle Pumpkin take his first tumble down the stairs (only 4 of them – I was supervising and actually caught him, mid-tumble with a baby in my other arm)? He did (and was fine). Given all of that, it wasn’t a bad day. But it was a long day. And I am simply done.
Tomorrow I will do less, and sleep more, and spend lots of good quality time with Miss Plum, snuggling. And I will cut myself some slack.