My brother came to me with a concerned look on his face when we brought our first daughter home from the hospital, just days after she was born. “So, they just let you take her from the hospital without checking to see if you know what you were doing?” That was the second I realized that I had no idea how deep into life I really was. Sure, I had been a babysitter for several children growing up and had countless experiences with babies but this one was mine, my responsibility. My brother added “You know you’re responsible for keeping her alive, right?”
I sat there on the bed with my husband, staring at our four-day old baby girl and wondering just how badly I was going to screw this all up. I wanted to call the hospital and let them know they forgot to send the manual with me, that they forgot to run a background check on me, and that they forgot to send a nurse home with me in case things went south. As my mom got her purse and headed to the door to go home, I wanted to grab her by the ankles and beg her to stay.
I won’t sugar coat taking care of an infant. It’s brutal.
I’m currently getting a petition together that demands better television programming at 2am. Do they really expect us mommas to watch 25-year-old reruns of Saved By The Bell while trying to stay awake and feed an infant that is completely relying on us for life! Help the moms out here TV Land! I can’t count how many times I woke up with my daughter in my arms, covered in milk that had leaked everywhere, a crick in my neck and a baby who’s diaper had leaked on to my already unattractive maternity nightgown. Give us things a little more exciting to watch to keep us awake!
There’s some really sweet advice out there for new moms and all of it is well intended but there’s a truth that we tend to skirt around as to not completely freak the new mom out.
Sweet new mommy, may I be honest with you?
You can’t sleep when the baby sleeps. Visions of sweetly napping next to your baby is adorable but the reality is there’s stuff that needs to get done that you simply can’t get done with an infant in your arms. You know, like showering. You can only go a few days without a shower before people start avoiding you. You’ll also need to do as much laundry as possible while the angel rests peacefully in her crib/floor/bassinet/bouncy seat, heck put that baby down where ever she will sleep the longest. The super cute receiving blanket with the teddy bears on it will suddenly dub as a burp cloth, spit up catcher, poop wiper and possibly a dish towel. You will find yourself standing in front of the washing machine far more than you expected. It’s fine, you can sleep when that angel graduates and heads to college. It’s not as far off as it may seem.
That’s a beautiful manicure you have now, but plan on getting poop under your nails more than once. Your angel will poop. It will find its way up her back, around her neck and if you’re having a bad day, it will reach her hair. Grab that cute teddy bear recieving blanket and get to it. Glamorous mommyhood just went out the window. It’s okay to cut that cute little onesie off of your angel instead of pulling it over her head and risk smearing even more poop across her chubby pink cheeks. You will develop a relationship with your child’s poop that will find you no longer flinching at the stench and ability to cover half of your arm in a matter of seconds.
When the pacifier falls on the floor pick it up, lick it, wipe it on your pants or whatever is most convenient and stick it back in the crying baby’s mouth. Claim the 5 second rule or 10 second rule. Claim whatever rule you want.
The baby will eat a leaf that she found on the floor that was tracked in on the bottom of someones shoe. It’s okay to freak out the first time but the second time count it has a source of fiber and move on.
Wiping the baby down with a couple of wipes counts as a bath.
Cutting little tiny fingernails on a squiggling infant is terrifying. Pin her down with your legs as if practicing a wrestling move. No one’s watching.
Wipe the booger on the inside of your shirt and wash it later or wipe it on the baby’s shirt, no one will reject the baby because of a booger.
Stains on clothes will not scar your child’s sense of fashion.
Forgive yourself when the baby rolls off the couch the first time. They are squishy and resilient.
The baby won’t break.
You won’t be the first mom that wants to tell her baby to shut up in the middle of the night. You also won’t be the first mom that wants to set the baby in the other room and walk away. You won’t be completely head over heels for your baby every second of every day. You’re human. You are not alone. Forgive yourself. Plus, the baby won’t remember it and you are not obligated to divulge that information in the future. It will be our secret.
Baby Einstein videos will not make your 3 month old a genius just like sitting your child in front of Mickey Mouse Club House will not make your child ADHD or lower her IQ. Plop that baby down, crank the TV up and give yourself a minute or two to use the restroom.
Lastly, you can’t do it alone. You shouldn’t do it alone. No one expects you to do it alone. Take the offers of help. Let someone else feed the baby, even if they’re doing it the wrong way (you know, not your way). Eat left overs. Eat McDonalds if you’re desperate. Get a 46 ounce soda from the convenience store if that’s what gets you through the day. Chug it. Wear the same clothes two days in a row, three if there’s no poop on them. Take the offer for someone to care for the baby for a few hours so that you can be you and not the baby life saver.
Never, ever compare yourself to another mom, because she doesn’t know what she’s doing either.
There is no mommy manual. There is no perfect mommy. The truth is none of us really know what we’re doing, we’re all just doing the best that we can and hoping that we don’t totally ruin our children along the way. It’s okay to not get it right 100% of the time. Give yourself some grace.
This time with your baby won’t last forever so don’t waste it trying to figure out how to be the perfect mom. Give your baby kisses and remind her that you’re doing the very best that you can. She’ll love you no matter what.
And if it helps, that little baby I brought home from the hospital? She is now 14, healthy and for the most part she’s a pretty well rounded kid, except for the fact that she wipes her boogers on the inside of her shirt. I’m just kidding…maybe.