You think you know what to expect from all the books you’ve read and stories you’ve heard, but nothing prepares you for the real experience of having a baby.
I am a planner, I need to know what to expect and be ready for it. So I was getting ready for birth! I read pregnancy and parenting books, wrote out my birth plan, packed my hospital bag and thought I was ready. Of course nothing went as planned. The birth was complicated, the medical team had to get involved, and my birth plan and everything I was getting ready for, went out the window. In the midst of it all, I still managed to enjoy the close bond with my husband and the anticipation of our baby’s arrival. I remember the first time I held Elie in my arms and the overwhelming feeling of love I felt for this tiny human being!
Our first day at home was also nothing like we planned either. The books tell you to feed the baby around the clock, except she was asleep most of the time and I couldn’t wake her up! The only time I was able to feed her was at night, because she slept the whole day and was wide awake at night! Since I breastfed, I didn’t know exactly how much she ate. It also took her almost an hour and a half for each feeding since she constantly fell asleep at the breast. So I was in a panic mode most of the time.
She also cried A LOT and I couldn’t sooth her! I remember on our 3rd day at home Elie just started to cry and cried for the next 2 hours loud and non-stop. No matter what I did, she didn’t stop. I was not prepared for it, she refused the pacifier I got from the hospital, so I ran to the nearest pharmacy and bought all the pacifiers they had. She refused them all! I was getting worried about what the neighbors might think – the kid screamed all the time!
Bathing time was another nightmare! She didn’t like the water and screamed all the time. I was afraid that she’d slip and drown in her baby bathtub because it seems like she was trying to get out, so I always bathed her with my husband’s help.
It took a while to settle into a peaceful routine where I felt like I knew what I was doing and she began to trust me. I definitely learned a few lessons in those early months.
Accept help. I thought, “Everyone has babies, they all managed and so will I,” but as a new mom you need all the help you can get. If your friend is offering to bring you a few hot meals so you can catch up on your sleep and not cook, accept it. If you’re lucky to have siblings or parents who are offering their help, take it. Let them take your baby outside in a stroller so you can take a shower in peace or catch up on the things you need to do.
Sleep when your baby sleeps. Boy, do I wish I listened to this advice while Elie was a baby! I don’t know if it was adrenalin or my newly felt superpowers, I thought I could last forever without sleep. A couple of months later I was a walking zombie, and finally agreed to split up nighttime feedings/diaper changes with my husband.
Don’t rush, and enjoy the baby. My favorite times with Elie were when we spent time on our rocking chair cuddling and singing. She loved to listen to my voice and whenever she was cranky, I sang, and it immediately soothed her. Those moments were so precious. We also loved to dance around the room and she enjoyed those moments as much as I did.
Celebrate your baby and take LOTS of pictures and videos. 14 years later I still enjoy going through the albums and videos and look back at those crazy fun times with our baby. It’s awesome to see her grow up, to see the constant changes, the first smile, the fist step she took, the first word she said, the mess, the crazy hair and outfits, the first time she tasted a lemon, her first birthday and all the birthdays that followed.
Parenting is a journey, nothing ever goes as planned. Be flexible and open-minded and remember to enjoy the ride!
Written by Julia Berger, founder of everydayparenting.com