When we brought home our daughter, 7 years ago. I was sure I had it all figured out. I had been a nanny and a preschool teacher. I knew kids, I knew babies, they were my thing. When we got married and decided to start a family I was already doing a victory lap on my Mommy awesomeness, before she was born. After a hard labor and emergency c-section. That is a story for another day. We brought home out little sweet, bundle of joy Nora. She was perfection. We kissed and loved on her, cuddled her close, watched her sleep. And then we tried to sleep that first night home. I had this motherhood thing all figured out at this point, me 2 weeks before having my first child.
After a night of no sleep, taking turns holding her, walking with her, me nursing her until I was certain she was drinking my blood (there is no way I had more milk to give). My Husband and I both had the same thought. The thought neither of us spoke out loud until years later. We thought "What did we do?" We knew nothing of her, we were out of options, ideas, and energy.
We had this nice little life, he worked on his car, I watched reality TV, we had long leisurely dinners, slept in. Well really, we got to sleep. We had this vision of being parents, of our little girl. The one thing we were not prepared for was the utter shock of a life changed. We knew it would change, we were told over and over nothing would be the same. But, no one ever said "you will question it all, you will fail, you will suck at this, you will wonder why you ever thought this was a good idea."
Because in our sleepy haze of those first few weeks we felt it all. I was out of my element, craving normalcy. That normal did not exist and never would again. Things shifted into a new normal. One I would never take back, now. Those first few weeks, we both had regrets. Not for our child, we loved her so much it hurt, even then. But, regrets of this overwhelming job that we got no training for. There was no trial period, nothing. As prepared as we were, we were SO unprepared. I don't think you ever will be.
You can organize the clothes, read all the books, interview all pediatricians, read vaccine debates until your eyes bleed. But, having that baby who only wants to be walked up and down that hallway at 2 am. That is reality, that is what will keep you up at night, literally. I wish I had known this clueless feeling was normal. Every single first time parent went through it. This too shall pass.
One day she slept four hours, and then six. Then we got on a somewhat nursing schedule, things started looking up. We learned her cries, her needs, she learned in her tiny little way to trust us. Then one moment of pure perfection.... she smiled. That became the binding factor, the "aha" moment that we knew we were doing something right. She smiled, she expressed joy, happiness, love! That is the moment we were hooked on her, this parenting ride, and willing to sign up for it two more times.
Finally you get it right, and it is everything!
I wish I had known that first day home, and those first few weeks: No one knew what they were doing. Every parent doubted if they could do it. No one instantly knew what their baby needs, what the cries meant. If I had known that I would have relaxed, rested when I could, cuddled her close, smell her new little baby smell, and just be. No one knew, that is what I wish I knew.