I had never been much of a baby person before I had my own. I tolerated babies, but I was never one to rush to hold someone else’s newborn or to fawn over a fresh ‘bundle of joy’. I assumed that would change when I had my own babies. And it did. Sort of.
Bringing a baby home from the hospital is a terrifying moment. You’ve just spent the last nine months fantasizing about what your baby will look like, what it will feel like to hold him, dress him, bathe him, and now that you’ve got him home you realize that none of the things you thought would be fun are, and there are 10,000 other things you have to do to this kid to keep it alive.
The first night we brought my first son home was comical, in retrospect. He had been screaming for three hours and my husband and I thought we had tried everything. With your first kid, you don’t know that babies are little sadists and like to cry sometimes for no good reason. I remember both of us, sitting on the edge of the bed, looking at this tiny, screaming human that we had created and feeling utterly defeated.
That feeling never stops with newborn babies.
As soon as you get him dressed, he poops and spits up at the same time. As soon as you get him to sleep he wakes up and screams at you for 30 more minutes.
Like most new moms, I found myself turing to the internet for help with my baby. Another rookie mistake; three babies later and I know that seeking help from other moms online is like looking for a needle in a gigantic stack of other needles. Other moms are brutal, and everything you’re doing is the worst and have you tried tummy time or gripe water or co-sleeping because if not you should take the baby back to the hospital and turn yourselves into the authorities you terrible awful person.
By baby number two I had a few more things figured out, but the shock of having a newborn in the house is something you can never really prepare for. I remember reading social media posts about moms feeling “baby hungry” which is something I’ve never experienced. I love my babies, but I’m definitely more “big kid hungry”. I like to be able to talk to my kids, (sort of) reason with them, play with them and have them be (sort of) little humans. Babies are little balls of needs that don’t give any thing back.
By my third, the only thing I’d really learned is how little I valued to opinions of other parents when it came to baby stuff. I finally was able to let go of the anxiety of what other people thought of me as a mom.
I see first-time parent friends fall prey to the stress of over-explaining their parenting choices to the world. A friend recently posted a photo of her newborn baby sleeping in his car seat with a short “Look who’s tuckered out” caption and then a paragraph on “I know his straps aren’t buckled don’t judge me we were in the living room I swear I buckle his seat every time we leave the front door”. As a jaded and ‘senior’ parent I don’t care any more about what people think. That’s the one nice thing about having lots of babies.
When my third was a newborn I felt infinitely more confidence in my ability to do what was best for him. I’m not sure there’s a way to get there but through experience, but it’s a lovely place to arrive at.