What do I wish I’d known when I first brought Vale home from the hospital? Truthfully, the first thought that popped in my head when I heard this question was … anything.
I wish I’d known anything at all when I dressed her in her far-too-big “going home” outfit, sweated over the riddle of the car seat and slow-rolled down the highway wincing at every bump in the road, fearing it might break her. But I didn’t.
I didn’t know how to feed her. I didn’t know how to change her. I didn’t know how to hold her. I didn’t know how to entertain her or play with her or stimulate her in those fleeting moments when her little eyes would open. I didn’t know how to bathe her (all I know is the first time I did, she cried and then, so did I). I didn’t know how to make her sleep; I didn’t know when (if ever) I should wake her up. I didn’t know if I should take her out for a stroll, or keep her safely at home. I didn’t know how to “get her on a routine” or “sleep when she sleeps.” If all the things I didn’t know were stacked on top of each other like diapers, there would be a pile of Pampers at my house reaching toward the heavens.
Fast forward six months. Vale is here, she is healthy, she is happy and she is quite deliciously round. So I am living proof that you can manage as a parent even when you feel (and are) clueless and incompetent and inadequate. Somehow, you muddle through and before you know it, you do kind of know it.
When you’re a new parent, you hear the same advice over and over again – probably because most of the “clichés” are true. The truest thing I’ve heard is how it all goes by so quickly, how it truly is such a blur. When Vale was first born, I stared at her for hours, marveled over her tiny little nose and silky hair and rosebud lips. I hung on her every squeak, hiccup and sweet little noise. I thought this version of her would always be as distinct and vivid in my mind as it was in that present moment.
But now that she is 6 months old, I realize it is already hard for me to conjure and remember exactly how she looked and smelled and felt as a teeny tiny newborn. I thought I would never forget, and yet, in some ways I already have. So now, I join the chorus of parents dispensing that old advice to new parents – savor it, because it goes by so quickly. And I am going to get very specific about this: don’t just take pictures, take video. Don’t wait for a milestone or for her to “do something” to get that camera rolling. Just turn it on, every day if you can, and let the lens soak it in. There will come a day soon – sooner than you think – when those little moments of nothingness will be your greatest treasures.