Being a parent for the first time is no joke. I don’t envy those of you holding tiny babies right now that are going through this brand new. While my postpartum recovery seems to get worse after each baby, the babies themselves? They keep getting easier.
Also, I think I just keep getting better at taking care of small babies, and I’m owning that.
I WISH I could gift every first-time mom a basket of mom-of-4 confidence.
I remember taking my first to the ER at 2 in the morning within a week of coming home with him. I couldn’t get him to stop scream-crying. Maybe it was the beginning of months of colic, but I look back on that night and tell old-me, “First, calm down. Okay, now feed him. I KNOW HE JUST ATE. I know your nipples are screaming and bleeding and there are literally chunks of flesh falling off of them. PUMP. Pump a bottle. A bottle is not going to ruin him. Stop obsessing about ‘nipple confusion.’ Give him milk. Put something in his mouth to soothe him. Pacifiers are okay. It’s going to be okay. FEED HIM AGAIN.” We probably would have saved the $50 ER copay and I may have got a few more hours of sleep that night. Because I don’t think I went to the ER with a baby with colic (yet). I went to the ER with a baby who was born to a mom who had no idea what she was doing.
That first baby learning curve is steep, and there is no way to relax when, for the first time ever, you are responsible for something as huge as a human life with the tiniest toes you’ve ever seen.
First babies feel so much more fragile than each baby thereafter – to me, at least. And I’m not just talking soft-spots and floppy necks.
By this time around, I know a baby crying in a crib for a few minutes while I tend to other things (like his 3 siblings) is not going to suffer permanent damage. I know there is no need to stress about tracking diapers and feedings – that because my breasts feel actual relief after he nurses, and because we’re washing a load of bumGenius Littles cloth diapers every 2 days, he’s doing just fine.
The thing is, though, these are things you have to learn yourself. You have to learn what that rooting look is- the one all your babies will do long before they break out into full- blown “I’M STARVING” screams. You have to learn what “advice” to take and what to toss. You have to learn to trust yourself.
You will also have to learn how to totally make up stuff on the fly when the nurse at the pediatrician’s office wants a real answer to “How many wet diapers a day? And dirty? And how often is he eating?” They don’t seem to like to record “Plenty” and “The whole damn day. Just look at him!”
If you’re reading this while rocking your first baby, hang in there. We’re all in the trenches together, but you? You’re in the deepest part, in mud (or something that looks like mud but smells much worse) up to your knees with flies swarming you. It gets better. I promise. And if you do this again? You’ll do it better. Yeah, sure, it’s hard when there’s more than one kid to look after, but confidence sorta makes up for all that.
And by “confidence” I partly mean not caring if the 3 year old is running around your backyard naked while eating his 3rd chocolate breakfast bar of the day, and knowing your baby will be just fine with no socks on.
They’ll be fine. You’ll be fine. It’s fine.