We are not even two weeks in as new parents, and are still very much in the honeymoon phase with our bundle of joy. Babies have a way of ensuring you love them very, very quickly–something other moms had told me, but it was true when they said “you won’t know this type of love until you experience it yourself.” Being a new parent, from what I gather so far, is both the most rewarding and trying period I’ve ever experienced. You sacrifice your sleep to make sure your baby is taken care of. You sacrifice your comfort, so that your baby can be comfortable. And you do it all out of love. Many of my already-parent friends have given their views on what it’s like, so of course we did not go into this without some sort of perspective, but here are a few things I didn’t know:
1. The amount of laundry in our house has tripled…maybe even quadrupled. Our baby is not even two weeks old, but both of us have been pooped on, peed on and barfed on multiple times. The thing is, when this happens, it’s never just on us. It’s on the floor. The chair. The bedsheets. The blankets. The change pad. The crib. Our shirts. Our pants. And the list goes on and on and on….who knew a tiny human, still less than 10 pounds, could create so much laundry?! And of course I’ve been told “sleep when the baby sleeps, don’t worry about the chores,” which I’ve been trying to do, but you can’t really say “oh, there’s just a little bit of pooh on those bedsheets, we can still sleep on them.” Can you? Maybe I will reach that point in a couple of months.
2. Pooh-based disasters. Yes. And speaking of pooh. We knew babies barfed and poohed long before having one. But we weren’t quite prepared for the volume or power of our baby’s pooh. Maybe we’re still trying to figure out her diaper schedule. Maybe we’re learning when to change her. Maybe her diapers don’t quite fit. Maybe her tummy is upset. But it’s unbelievable how many pooh-based disasters have happened in such a short period of time. The other day we were giving baby a bath. We had her small tub about one foot (12 inches) away from her change table. My husband removed her diaper, and in the short, 12-inch trip from change pad to bathtub, the baby managed to projectile-shit all over the place. On my husband. On the carpet. On the change table. On herself. (And of course, this was right when company showed up). Then, once she was in the tub, she proceeded to shit in the tub. Well, you can’t win ’em all.
3. It’s a whole new level of tired. OK…veteran parents, go ahead and make fun of us. We’re rookies at this, and of course everyone already told us we’d never sleep again. The first few days didn’t feel so bad…afterall, mommy DNA kicks in pretty quickly–baby cries, needs food, needs changing, needs cuddling…and all I want to do is tend to her needs. But when the exhaustion hits, it’s a tired like you’ve never experienced before. Go a little further than sleep deprivation. Further than exhaustion. It’s more like being a boxer in the fifteenth round, struggling to see, stand straight, and digging for that last little bit of adrenaline that keeps you going just so you dont get KO’ed. Its that kind of tired. And when you reach that point, it’s very, very easy to have an emotional breakdown.
4. Having a shower is a huge accomplishment. Being able to put baby down for long enough to have a cup of coffee or shower is a monumental task. This is because the hours in the day just seem to fly by–the days and the nights literally become one. Newborns need 8 – 12 feedings per day. It takes about 45 mins to an hour for one feed/diaper change. Do the math…let’s say 10 feedings X 1 hour = 10 hours of newborn care. That leaves 14 hours left in the day to sleep, eat, shower, etc. Take out time in the middle for unplanned surprises (see #2, Pooh-Based Disasters), bathtime, transporting carseats, walking the dog, preparing food, chores, etc….and the time really does disappear.
5. Despite all of the above, it’s all worth it. If this were someone else’s kid, it might seem like the investment was too much. When other people have said “motherhood is the hardest, most rewarding job in the world” I never quite understood it…how can such an investment be worth it? It is because this is our baby. We created her. We have now experienced the miracle of life firsthand. Being a new parent is an experience unlike any other. Even her quirks are cute. She looks like a gremlin, makes funny noises, and breathes heavy when she’s rooting for the boob. She doesn’t know how to smile yet, but when her lips turn upwards, we see little dimples. She farts like it’s nobody’s business. And she’s all ours.