There's sleep deprivation, healing from birth and a lot of wandering around the house in a daze not knowing which end was up, but I think the most complicated, most difficult and certainly most frustrating thing about a new baby is feeding him.
I wasn't expecting breastfeeding to be a piece of cake, but even I didn't anticipate two weeks of breastfeeding, then tube feeding, then pumping to store more milk for the next round of tube feeding while we waited for the baby to get bigger and learn to suck better. Which meant I had, what? Fifteen minutes to myself every day? Thank goodness a lactation consultant graduated me from tube feeding the day before my husband had to go back to work because I never figured out how to do it without him. And while breastfeeding got more familiar and I learned how to manage it other places than my couch, it was never really easy. Not for me, anyway. My son wasn't even that interested and weaned his own little self at exactly six months. Fine by me! I thought. Yay! I had my body back!
We switched to formula and rice cereal. Who decided rice cereal should be baby's first food? Mine didn't particularly enjoy his first bowl of tasteless mush, or the hundreds of others after that. We quickly moved on to pureed fruits and vegetables in addition to the cereal, trying to stick to the Holy Food Introduction Schedule, but you know, it was hard to keep those rules floating around in my less than functional mommybrain. Besides, Jack liked and ate EVERYTHING, so the new hard thing became 1) what do I feed him today? and 2) how do I take it with me? For another six months I dutifully prepared a dozen kinds of baby food and froze them in ice cube trays. I kept a running list in that less-than-functional brain of what he'd eaten the day before so I wouldn't give him avocado an entire week in a row (although, let's face it, sometimes I totally did.) I had a hard time coming up with new things for him to try and new ways to prepare them. And oh, how I hated packing his lunch or dinner in the diaper bag and feeding him on the go. Fill the tiny containers, pack them precariously in the bag, hope there's a way to heat them up, pack all the empty dirty containers precariously in the bag.
Then there was the day I ordered a grilled cheese sandwich for him at a restaurant and HE ATE IT. He didn't just store the chunks of sandwich in his cheek for me to dig out before naptime, he ATE HIS SANDWICH. A whole new world opened before me, a world in which my son could eat People Food. A world in which I was free of the food processor, the freezer, the ice cube trays, the incessant conjuring of dinner from a small assortment of frozen food cubes. Hallelujah!
But now... NOW dinnertime has a new struggle and I shall call it The Battle Of The Wills. While I am beyond thrilled (no really, you have NO IDEA) that my kid eats macaroni and cheese (only the real cheese and wheat pasta kind of course) and chicken nuggets (free range) and peas in their actual pea form, feeding it to him as become a royal pain in the neck. He wants ALL his food on the tray so he can stuff ALL his bites of sandwich in his mouth AT ONCE. No, he doesn't WANT a spoonful of peas, he wants the MACARONI and he wants it NOW. Wait, HE wants the spoon, GIVE HIM THE SPOON. And if I give him the spoon and his bite of pasta goes flying across the kitchen and I snatch the spoon away: WAAAAAAHHHHH. The howling is especially attractive when accompanied by an open mouth full of half-chewed food. It's hard not to be affected by the giant tears rolling down his fat little cheeks, but COME ON. I don't care if he wants to throw the rest of his dinner on the floor - IT'S NOT ALLOWED.
So what's the next stage, you experienced moms? When he suddenly decides his entire diet should consist of Doritos?