I make light of how relatively easy Wallace, our 4th baby is. I think it’s partly his personality, but mostly that we’re basically seniors in the school of raising babies now. After going through the 1st year of a baby’s life 4 times, we’re ready to walk the stage. We could teach the class next year, to be honest.
But when I talk to friends and friends of friends who are there right now with their very first, I remember how much I forgot. How absolutely totally terrifying it was to be handed another tiny little human with a floppy neck and a soft spot on their head and be expected to keep them alive.
I don’t think there are any books that adequately prepare you, nor any amount of well meaning advice from… anyone. None of it takes away how completely overwhelming it can feel to parent a newborn for the first time.
Because no matter how many times people tell you there’s no one right way to do something, you’ll still second guess if the way you’re doing something is right… or at least not wrong.
And it just takes a while to feel confident that you’re not going to break them. They are so little, after all, with floppy soft heads. How could you not break them… or damage them? You can’t even be trusted with China or plants or gold fish. You watch to see if they are breathing every night because what if you really did break them this time?
They are so needy. Crying. Never using words you know. The books say to listen for this kind of cry and that kind of cry and you drive yourself nuts watching the shape of their mouth sometimes as they wail after you’ve fed and burped and changed them. Like, what shape of their mouth, what noise- the ahhh or the oohhhheeeee- is the one that means you should go to the ER?
It’s just so freaking scary, wondering if your breasts are actually working, wondering if the formula bottle is incompatible with their tummies, wondering why it’s so fucking hard to feed something. You rescued a baby bird that fell out it’s nest one time and managed to feed that thing, and it HAD FEATHERS AND CAME FROM AN EGG. The one from your womb with anatomy the exact same as your own continues to scream at you for not being able to figure out how to feed them.
Is the swaddle too tight? Too loose? Is the white noise too loud? That guy your partner works with went home with the flu today and OMGHOLYSHIT you will kill him if your baby somehow gets the flu.
Hating yourself for hating this.
Wishing it would all go by fast- that you’d wake up to a baby that has days and nights figured out- then hating yourself for wishing newborn days away.
Oh, momma. If that is you, I have been there. I remember. It was scary as fuck. I think we need to acknowledge this part more. It’s hard and it’s scary when you don’t know what you’re doing, and there’s really NO way to know what you’re doing without… doing it.
I wish you calm and comfort and a good night’s sleep. But mostly I wish that you know that you are not alone if you are terrified right now.
I cherish these photos our friends at Regetis Photography took for us so much. Life with our first newborn was so hard that I barely documented any of it after we left the hospital until Kendall was about 2 months old.