The other morning, I was drinking coffee and watching my 15 month-old son play while babbling to himself. It was one of those sweet moments where he wasn’t screaming for our TV remote and he hadn’t pooped his pants. I actually sighed happily. Then it hit me – I have a toddler. Where did my baby go? He used to be this small blob that couldn’t hold up his own head and now he’s walking around. Since last November, my life has been a rush of happy tears, sad tears, anxiety, anxiety about my anxiety, milestones, pictures, videos, and more milestones.
Here are some lessons I think all new parents learn.
– All of the pre-baby planning goes out the window once you bring your baby home.
Yes, it is great to have the nursery decorated and the essentials purchased. However, none of that mattered to us when we found out our son had acid reflux. It threw us for a loop because he would spit up after every bottle. We would have to do laundry daily. He couldn’t lay flat to sleep, so the adorable bassinet I begged my mom to get us sat empty while we used the Rock ‘N Play. Our perfectly decorated nursery wasn’t even used until our son was six months old. In the grand scheme of things, this is not a big deal. My point is, we thought we were prepared for everything (like baby vomit, everywhere), but we weren’t.
– Your house WILL be a disaster.
At first, people will help you with cleaning and laundry since you’re exhausted and preoccupied. But when the help eventually tapers off, your house will be a total mess. Everywhere. On every surface. You just have to learn to deal with it until you can multitask like a pro and simultaneously sweep your floors, wipe down the counters and feed your child lunch at the same time. I have mastered this for maybe a month now and am always open to suggestions from other moms on how to handle the mess.
– Dads can get postpartum depression, too.
You don’t hear about this very often, at least I didn’t, but dads can suffer from “new dad depression” after having a baby. My husband helped with the feedings because I was unable to breastfeed, so he was up all hours along with me. He felt like he was giving everything and getting nothing in return (welcome to the club, right?). It did get better once our son was able to interact more and smile. Dads love babies that smile.
– It takes a village.
This may be the most cliché thing I could say, but it is so true. I was very naive to think we could handle it all ourselves, but in reality, we couldn’t. Help was never far away and we are truly grateful for our parents giving us shower breaks, our friends for bringing food, etc. I could go on and on. It is absolutely crucial to have help because you cannot do it on your own the first few months.
– Speaking of breaks, you’ll want to take a break from your baby, but then all you will talk about is your baby.
Two weeks after bringing our son home, my two best friends came over and told us to go on a day date. I wore an actual bra and put on makeup for the first time in weeks. It felt great! We sat down at the restaurant, ordered two glasses of prosecco to celebrate and then we just stared at each other. Our baby had consumed our lives completely and we didn’t know what else to talk about. We had a ten minute discussion about his poops while drinking prosecco. That part gets better, I promise.
I don’t need to say much about this topic. I have a wonderful relationship with coffee. Coffee was my sweet best friend when I was most exhausted. I implore all non-coffee drinkers to just start drinking coffee.
– You will never forget the terrible things that happened to your body, yet you will want to (eventually) do it all over again.
The first few months, the thought of having another baby sounded awful. Then a month ago, my husband and I were at brunch and I saw this squishy little newborn at the table next to ours. I just went “Awww” and my husband, without taking a breath, whispered “No”. I flipped a switch and was ready for it all over again. Another cliché thing to say – I have baby fever again.
Like all new parents, we have learned a lot about raising a tiny human, and we have so much more to learn now that our son is a toddler. This new phase is exciting and scary. Now if you’ll excuse me, he has pooped his pants.