(two weeks old, E on left, M on right)
One of the scariest things about being pregnant was not knowing how it would be to actually have a baby, and not knowing how I would deal with the various challenges. Being new at this, I was pretty worried that everything would terrible and horrible and super crazy hard. And some of it *was* terrible and difficult. But some of it hasn’t been so bad–in fact, there has definitely been some good stuff. And I have learned a lot–some practical, and some philosophical.
1. Turns out I love babies.
I never hated babies, but I was never a baby-fever kind of girl. Some people dream for years of being a mom–that wasn’t me. But now that I do have babies of my own–babies are awesome! I can never get enough of them. They’re so tiny and cuddly and sweet! That’s why I am so excited when I find out someone is pregnant–they get a sweet little baby to snuggle! There is NOTHING better than cuddling a tiny baby.
[I now know that there are “baby people” and “non-baby people”, which makes me even more nervous for the toddler/older kid stages, if the baby stage was my favorite.]
2. I can be a lot more patient than I thought.
In general, I’m not a terribly patient person–I hate slow walkers and slow drivers, and other things that seem to take too long. But as it happens, I’m a lot more patient with babies (most of the time). I think it’s because the babies don’t know any better and they can’t help it. They can only cry, and they have zero tolerance for frustration, because they’re like proto-people still. (I am worried about how I’ll be with bigger kids who DO know better.)
Juggling one or two babies is hard. Especially when it’s the middle of the night, again. Or when both babies are crying at the same time. Talking it out loud helps me get out some of the energy and I always hope that something is reaching the babies–at least my voice if not my arms at that moment. Also, when they were smaller, this is when the baby swing or the sling were lifesavers. (Why can’t they make stationary swings for toddlers??)
When I do get overwhelmed, sometimes my husband is around to help or take over if I need a break. And when he’s not, I just try to take a deep breath and try to get through it, remembering that at some point it will be over. Sometimes I panic and feel really annoyed and frustrated–I’m no saint! Sometimes, honestly, I have to just laugh because it’s so ridiculous and there’s nothing to do. I took a video once, when I was home alone with babies, I was pumping and they were on the couch on either side of me, screaming. And we were all just kind of stuck. I couldn’t do much but roll my eyes and shake my head. And then record it for posterity. 🙂
3. Baby farts and burps are funny.
I’m not one of the tomboy girls who thinks it’s funny when grown-ass dudes burp and fart all over the place. However–that same fart ripped from baby butt is somehow hilarious. I guess that means I’m not as grown-up as I thought. 🙂
4. Babies are noisy in general.
I knew that babies cried, and that they most likely would cry a lot, all the time, for no reason. I didn’t know that when they weren’t crying, they still make a lot of noises. Especially while sleeping, our babies made all kinds of sounds–it was like a barnyard! We heard pigs, horses, hyenas, and sometimes an old movie villain. There were also squeaks and peeps and snorts and grunts. At night, these sounds would startle us awake to go check on the babies–who were often still asleep! It also made it hard for me to nap while they napped nearby–too noisy!
5. I can indeed survive on less sleep.
This was honestly one of the things that scared and intimidated me the most about having babies. I love to sleep in (which was never as often as I wanted) and I also love to stay up late, which meant that I rarely got enough sleep. The prospect of being awake all night every night for months on end was a little (a lot) terrifying. The reality wasn’t much better. You’re thrown in to a new situation–a time when you really need as much as rest as you can possibly get. And then you get hardly any. The first couple weeks, we would ‘go to sleep’ after a feeding at like 2am and set an alarm for 4am and good god, it’s like torture. Inhuman.
Things did get a lot better, eventually! (Partly because my husband and I built ourselves a better schedule.) But god, it’s really hard sometimes. (There’s another sleep regression coming soon….help me!) A lot of times, there’s nothing to be done, you just have to get through it. And that *sucks*. If an opportunity for you to nap comes up, TAKE IT, FOR GOD’S SAKE, TAKE THAT NAP.
As an aside, I tend to believe that sleep is necessary for sanity, so I would encourage parents to do whatever they need to do to get more/some rest.
6. New babies are boring.
I mentioned this months ago–but I didn’t realize that since newborns just sleep and eat…they don’t do anything else. Which means that, in many cases, you can’t do anything else. [C-section recovery plus the logistics of lugging two babies and their stuff meant I didn’t do anything or go anywhere at all for at least four weeks. An easier birth/recovery and a single baby means that you can use a carrier to get out and about easier and faster.]
I always figured that since new babies are so overwhelming, it would mean that you’d be busy. And you are, for some parts of the day. But if the baby is sleeping 16-20 hours a day (which is what newborns do, especially pre-term babies, I think), then you have a lot of time to just sit around. In small chunks. However, you’re way too braindead to *do* anything with that time, since you’re not getting any sleep (naps often made me feel more tired and groggy, so I didn’t try to sleep every time the babies slept). This is why you want a Netflix subscription.
7. I do not have those classic attachment issues.
Some people don’t sleep well in the first few months even when they’re able, because they worry about the baby, or they want to constantly check on the baby. I have never had that problem. If I had the chance to sleep, I slept, and I slept hard, thank you very much. Yes of course, I checked my babies’ breathing every night before I went to bed. But once it was bedtime, goodnight ma’am, I’m out. If there was a trusted visitor here for a chunk of time, see ya, I’m taking a nap. (Again, sleep is precious!)
That’s another thing–some people are anxious about other people caring for their babies. I am not one of those people. As long as it was a trusted family member or friend (or a qualified childcare provider), I knew things would be fine. I wanted to sleep, or to go outside by myself for a bit for some air. Possibly it makes me a bad or selfish mama, but I have not had any issues with putting some of my own priorities at the forefront for a few hours and leaving someone else in charge.
8. I am not quick to accept change.
I like to think I’m adaptable and can easily go-with-the-flow. In some ways I can be, but in a lot of ways, I hate change and new things (especially if they aren’t my idea). I tend to gripe and groan, and I definitely tend to hold on to the past. None of this is actually a surprise, just one of my bad qualities that has played a part in this baby-having adventure.
There are plenty of good changes that we’ve had (sleeping more! adapting schedule!), but the sheer amount of change has been startling. *Everything* is always changing! I’m not ready to give up my little babies yet! Not fair!
Ahem. I’m working on taking in the details every day and enjoying things as they are right now. It’s tough sometimes. 🙂
9. There is no such thing as too many photos.
Okay, anyone who knows me knows that I love taking pictures. And that I take too many pictures. In the last thirteen months, I have taken thousands of pictures of my babies. And I still want more.
Most importantly, I desperately want more quality photos of the early days of *me* and my babies. I have a number of dark, crappy iphone selfies and only a handful of photos from my real camera (with the speedlight flash, because it was December and practically always nighttime). Since I’m the photographer in the family, I had to set up the camera and then ask my husband to take a picture. Who wants to do that every other day?
I also really, really wish I had more photos of me interacting with the babies. Most of the ones I do have together are the posed on the couch type, where I’m smiling at the camera. Over the months, I have captured a lot of adorable moments of my husband and a baby or two playing together, just casual snapshots that captures them having fun and loving one another. I have hardly any of me having fun with the babies, because again, since it’s my camera, I have to set up the thing and ask for it to be captured. My husband is always willing to do it, but there’s something about expending the mental energy to ask, and of course losing the spontaneity of the moment. And really, it’s hard when I can visualize the photo I want, but I can’t magically import that vision into someone else’s mind to take it the way I’m thinking, so there goes more time and effort and shots and babies are done now.
However–see point number 8. I need to remind myself that I *do* have some precious photos of me with my babies this past year. And that I can resolve to do better in the future.
But please, learn from me. Take pictures, and then take more pictures. And videos of noises and movements are so especially priceless! Make sure you AND your partner look to capture fun and beautiful moments of both of you and your new snuggly babies. 🙂 (And then print them out. But that’s another post!)
10. Did I mention how awesome baby snuggles are??
Did you learn anything surprising about yourself or about babies in your first year of parenting? I’d love to hear it! And/or–what interesting things have you parents of toddlers learned about the second year of parenting? I know there is SO MUCH still to learn and experience! [But don’t scare me more than I already am! :D]