21w, 1d. I’m still over the moon from our baby girl news last week, despite an insanely itchy mystery rash that only spreads instead of responding to treatment (thank you, pregnancy hormones) and our whole family being felled by a vicious summer cold. This week is a particularly good one as one of my closest friends from college (one of the awesome women with whom I make an annual girls’ getaway) gave birth yesterday to a healthy baby girl. It’s her first child, and I couldn’t be more excited for her—but part of me is terrified too.
I (thankfully) barely remember those first days and weeks of having a newborn for the first time. Our son was a seemingly inconsolable constant crier and around-the-clock nurser (as in nursing for 45 minutes every two hours), and I had yet to develop any faith in my own parenting abilities. What I do remember is the small kindnesses people showed me—the dear friend who came in from out-of-state bearing groceries, capable arms for squiring my crybaby away for an hour so I could nap, and a shoulder to cry on while I sobbed through dinner, my brother and his girlfriend staying up to do a late-night bottle feeding so I could get a few hours of uninterrupted sleep, and the new mom friend who responded to my desperate texts with contact numbers for lactation consultants and a baby nurse. I was a complete mess, I think (although really, I just can’t remember—maybe I’d have been impressed with myself had I been looking in from the outside). And while I know that plenty of folks have much better experiences as new parents than I recall having, I just remember having been so caught off-guard by how hard parenthood was; why had I wasted all of those months reading about pregnancy when I should have been figuring out what to do once I had a BABY!? Sigh.
Anyhoo, there’s plenty of advice I would give myself if I could go back to that time (and that I give to friends who have just become moms, should they ask for it), including to follow your instincts, not be so hard on yourself, forget about doing everything perfectly, connect with other new moms, and shower/change out of your pajamas everyday. But, again, I recognize that everyone’s experiences are different, and I would never want to freak out a new mom with my horrible recollections of those early days—maybe my advice for moms with easy babies should be something like “Have a stack of books to read during all of those peaceful moments with your babe” (my brain could never focus enough for reading on such little sleep) or “Make sure your glasses/contacts prescription is current so that you don’t miss a moment of staring into your little one’s eyes” (again, my eyes were often closed because I was so exhausted). This video with advice moms would give themselves if they could go back to right before their babies were born always makes me teary too (women are so damn smart!).
What advice would you give to a friend who’s just become a new mom? (Feel free to toss some of that wisdom my way, especially if you have three or more kids—I can’t imagine how chaotic things will be once we’ve got three kids around.) Leave a comment!