It has been four full weeks since our little noodle turned our party of two into a party of three, and it has been some of the best and most challenging times of our lives! Now that we’re slowly but surely working ourselves into a tiny routine with our little bundle of joy, I thought it was an appropriate time to reflect on the experience of parenting a newborn for the first time.
The good: Five things that make parenting a newborn fantastic and worthwhile.
The cuddles! There is nothing more rewarding than when he nuzzles his little face into my shoulder or my chest and falls asleep cuddling. For the first week or so we spent most our time cuddled up watching The Great British Bake Off in my recliner, and I still will put off doing anything if he falls asleep in my arms because his cuddles make me feel like maybe I’m not failing at this whole parenting thing.
They can’t go anywhere! This one is really a life saver and sanity protector, because I know that I can strap him into his swing, leave the room to use the bathroom, and come back and he’ll be exactly where I left him. Newborns can’t move around on their own, so knowing that if I put him in his sleeper with the baby monitor and go shower really quick and he’ll still be there when I come back has done wonders for my mental health.
The toe beans! Have you ever seen baby toe beans? They’re so little and perfect and they don’t smell yet! I love giving toe bean kisses and vividly remember repeating to myself throughout the lengthy labor process “just think about the toe beans” because they’re just so darn precious! I would venture a bet that no one could turn down giving some baby toe beans some kisses because they’re the absolute most perfect thing in the entire world.
The support of family and friends! You would be surprised how much our friends and families offered help in the early days of being home with the baby! Thankfully we live minutes from both of our immediate families so we have been beyond lucky when it comes to having an extra set of hands when we need them. Word to the wise, don’t be proud and accept the help! You will absolutely drive yourself insane if you think you can do it all yourself, trust me I was there and it made me physically sick with anxiety, don’t be that mom! Accept the help when its offered because the newness will eventually wear off and you’ll be wishing you let everyone and their mother hold him so you could eat!
Not being pregnant anymore! This one’s self-explanatory but boy oh boy am I glad I’m no longer carrying a tiny human inside of me! I can drink the occasional glass of wine, I can work out, and I don’t have strangers trying to touch my belly! As frightening as it is that the tiny human you once could take care of so well inside your belly is a living breathing human on the outside, it is beyond wonderful to be able to sleep on your belly and eat whatever you want without worrying about how it will affect the baby. Plus babies are way more fun when you can share them with everyone else and not just your rib cage.
The bad: Five things about parenting a newborn I wasn’t ready for.
The post-partum hormones. Holy mother of God did the first week of post-partum hormones absolutely destroy me. I thought I knew what I was in for, newsflash I wasn’t ready. If you thought pregnancy hormones were bad, imagine those on steroids because they were the worst part of this entire adventure. I remember being at a cook out at my parent’s house five days after Ezra was born and crying on a deck surrounded by my family and friends because my Dad said my baby looked like Homer Simpson. The hormone shift after having the baby is the world’s worst biological roller coaster and unfortunately you just have to ride it out. Have no fear though, they do eventually level out and you’ll get back to somewhat normal, you just have to remember you’re doing the best you can and try to breathe through the constant tears.
The mom guilt. This one I blame the internet for truthfully, with the bombardment of information available in the palm of our hands, it is literally impossible not to feel like you are doing something wrong as a parent, especially when it comes to feeding baby. I had intended to breast feed but after 18 hours of not being able to feed my baby, it finally took me breaking down in tears in front of my mom and one of the OB techs to finally get formula for my baby while I was in the hospital. Yes, every baby is different and according to any medical professional you ask, breast is best, but to that I say shove it because if your baby is fed and healthy, you do you. In the world of instant mom advice and social media, if you try to keep up with other moms you get trapped in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenario and that is enough to make any new mom feel guilty and overwhelmed, something I just hadn’t prepared for.
The exhaustion. Yes, this sounds silly, everyone knows that babies don’t sleep right off the bat. What I failed to realize was that after having my baby at 12:06am, it would take a good week and a half before either me or my husband got a shot at sleeping for more than two hours at a time, and man I just wasn’t prepared. I was under the delusion that maybe since I spent over twenty hours in labor, that some sort of magic fairy would take my baby to the nursery for the first night and bring him back eight hours later, and of course this didn’t happen. Exhausted from pushing out a tiny human, I was then immediately responsible for his wellbeing, even though I couldn’t walk from the epidural somehow they trusted me and my sleep deprived counterpart enough to care for the hours old infant. Don’t worry, we did fine, but again, we weren’t ready.
Carrying my baby in his car seat was a lot heavier than expected. When we installed the car seat the morning I went into labor, it didn’t seem that heavy, but put in the baby and somehow my arms struggled to carry it. It’s been a month and I still struggle on occasions carrying the baby up the stairs from the car. I used to be able to easily lift upwards of twenty pounds with one arm, so I again wasn’t ready for this massive loss of arm strength.
They grow up so fast! Again, it’s only been four weeks since our little chunka was born, but as he outgrows his newborn clothes and starts being more active and expressive, it’s hard to believe just four short weeks ago he was brand new to us! It’s only the beginning but I still can’t help but feel like he’s growing up faster than I was ready for!
Parenting a newborn in the first month has been quite the adventure, and I’m glad to say we’ve made it through the very short first leg of our journey as parents. I look forward to the many more months and years ahead of us, and can’t believe what a journey it’s been so far! Stay tuned for more updates along the long and winding road that is parenthood, and feel free to share some of your own in the comments below!