You’ve just had a new baby—congratulations! You may have been planning for impending parenthood for nearly 10 months, but starting life at home with a newborn will be full of surprises. You can have the nursery ready, a bag packed and a diaper bag filled, but no matter how much talking, reading and researching you do, the truth is that much of being a new parent is a trial by fire.
Those first few days, weeks, and even months will introduce you to one new experience after another as you get to know the new little person in your life. The good news is, you can handle it. The tricky news? You’ll never be able to guess just what “it” may be until it happens.
Here are few of the things that might come up along the way:
There will be times that you look at your partner (or the mirror), and ask, “Are we supposed to know what to do here?” Don’t worry, the answer is no. But you have to figure something out anyway, because you’re the parent.
Baby likes back? Baby likes long car rides at midnight? Baby likes being wiggled over your shoulder while you walk in circles for hours? Do it. Just do it.
You’ve probably been warned about poop explosions and projectile vomiting, but the true volume (and velocity) of a baby’s outgoing bodily fluids can boggle a new parent’s mind.
Whatever. It. Takes.
Some days, just putting on a clean shirt will feel like a victory. Don’t stress about those days, and when things calm down, go for a walk, a massage or a haircut and you’ll feel like a million bucks again.
She is. (Just kidding. A baby’s sleep cycle is different from our own. It will even out in time, and until it does, see number 4)
This is true at every stage of the game, but especially with newborns. If the change is tough, like sleep resistance or crankiness, just remember that with any baby, “it’s not forever –it’s for now.”
There will be afternoons of clock-watching and nights that feel like the dawn will never arrive, but time plays funny tricks on a parent. Blink and your baby will be another month old.
The transition from being a couple to becoming a family is not always 100% smooth. Try to handle the bumps along the way with fairness and respect, or at least save the complaining for a walk with your BFF.
Have you ever watched a mother robin fly continuously to and from her nest, mouth full of worms, trying to satisfy the crying, ravenous little chicks whose hunger never ceases? Yeah, that.
Oh yeah, your baby may not be the only person whose hunger never seems to abate. Nursing moms need a lot more calories than usual, so keep healthy, filling snacks on hand. It takes a lot of energy to keep mamas and babies fed.
Pets, friends, co-workers – it may seem like, while everybody knows you just had a baby, nobody really gets that it means your life has just drastically changed. It’s an adjustment period for all, so make sure everybody gets cut a little slack.
You will go from feeling totally lost at sea to being the captain of the ship pretty quickly – promise. Trust yourself, listen to your heart and your gut, and remember that you know your baby best.
When you are in the trenches, it’s good to be around others who are as well. Find a mom gang, play group or just sit down next to that other new parent at the park and share experiences, ask questions, laugh, cry—be with people who won’t care that there is spit-up in your hair.
Yeah, you will!
This story is part of our New Baby Guide. Check out the rest of it for more info on bringing home, planning for and surviving having a new baby.