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New-Mom Milestones

From his premiere smile to that debut step, your baby's first year is full of memorable milestones. But over the next 12 months, you too will hit more than a dozen markers along the motherhood trail  -- and with each one, you'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll kiss your old self goodbye.

Week 1
First easy bowel movement.
When you can finally go to the bathroom without having to go to the "happy place" in your mind.

Week 1-4
First baby shots.
When the pediatrician sinks a needle into the pristine pastry bag that is your baby's thigh, you'll suddenly understand the classic parent credo, "This hurts me more than it hurts you." Sure, your baby may wail and even squeeze out her first real tears, but you'll be the one sniffling long after you exit the office.

Week 1-52
First Mother's Day.
What's better than getting a card and flowers from your baby, breakfast in bed, and a reprieve from changing diapers? Knowing that you deserve these gifts.

Week 2
First time your mom compares notes on motherhood.
She's waited a long time (your entire life, in fact) to tell you about her pregnancy with you (she gained only 17 pounds), or her labor (24 hours without drugs), or how she coped with sleep deprivation (actually, she had you sleeping through the night at four weeks). So grin and bear it. Then, remind yourself that you'll probably be doing the same thing to your child one day.

Week 3
First "adult" beverage.
Maybe it's a champagne toast to you by your husband. Maybe it's a huge cup of coffee in the morning. After months of deprivation, who cares? Just remind yourself that it's well earned and will probably make you shaky and nauseated.

Week 4
First real baby bath.
A cute milestone and a major operation. The setup takes way more time than the act itself. Two people are necessary to do the job. The baby's slippery and possibly crying. It's not something that you want to repeat again anytime soon.

Week 6
First sex
(Unless you don't admit to your husband that the doctor gave the okay.) A painful milestone and a major operation. The setup takes WAY more time than the act itself. Two people are necessary to do the job. Nothing is slippery. You're possibly crying. It's not something that you want to repeat again anytime soon.

Week 4-6
First trip outside with your baby.
It may be just a trip around the block, but it feels like your baby's big coming out. After bundling her up just right with matching blanket, hat, and booties, and packing the diaper bag with enough toys, wipes, diapers, and burp cloths for sextuplets, you're on your way. And in approximately five minutes, you're back.

Week 6-52:
First time you sleep through the night.
Okay, maybe it's only four or five hours in a row, but you'll definitely take it. (And you'd better, because who knows if you'll get it again tomorrow night.)

Week 8-12
First time you use a bulb syringe or rectal thermometer.
You thought being the target of projectile poop was bad, yet nothing prepares you for the courage you'll need to gently probe your squirmy baby's nostrils or anus.

Week 12
First stranger's compliment on your baby.
You've been expecting this. You know your baby is the most beautiful creature on earth. And yet, when a stranger points out the obvious ("Ooh, what lovely eyes!"), you're floating on a cloud.

Week 12
First stranger's dis of your baby.
You've not been expecting this. You know your baby is the most beautiful creature on earth. And yet, when a stranger points out the obvious ("What strong features! She'll be a handsome woman"), you're crushed.

Week 18
First boob flash.
It's practically the first law of breastfeeding faux pas: You forget to fasten that crucial third button on your blouse, or your baby pulls off mid-meal, letting it all hang out. The second law? It happens in front of a male relative or neighbor.

Week 24
First babysitter.
No matter who you've entrusted with your baby's care  -- be it your mom, your best friend, or a licensed nurse trained in CPR  -- you can count on three things: You will feel uncomfortable. You will feel guilty. And you will cut short your outing and rush back, only to realize that your baby didn't know you were gone.

Week 24
First time your husband asks when you'll start exercising again.
You don't have to answer your spouse because you're too busy trying out some kickboxing moves on him.

Week 28
First non-nursing bra.
Weaning is bittersweet. The bitter is knowing that your baby is growing up. The sweet is slipping on a bra that doesn't have easy-opening latches or snaps, or shoulder straps as wide as lasagna noodles.

Week 30
First time you realize you have nothing to say to your baby-free friends.
Actually, you have plenty to say; it's just that you have trouble doing it without using the words "poop," "breast milk," or "episiotomy."

Week 34
First time you meet another mom who delivered the same time.
You talk about your babies, but you're sizing her up, looking for signs that she's as tired and confused as you feel. Does she still have a big belly and backside? Does she have dark circles under her eyes? Does she have spitup on her shirt? Does it matter? You bet your big bottom.

Week 52
First non-elastic-waist pants.
You may have to breathe deeply and button quickly, but it doesn't matter. You feel as triumphant as Oprah on a liquid diet when you banish your one-size-fits-all pants to the back of your closet (they'll be going right next to your miniskirts and bikini).

Week ?-forever
First time you realize you love your baby more than yourself.
Maybe it happened the first moment you laid eyes on your baby, or maybe it happens at week four while you're changing diapers at 3 a.m. One thing is for sure: It will happen, and when it does, you'll know that you've reached the mother of all milestones.

Kitty O'Callaghan is a Babytalk contributing editor and the mother of two boys and a girl.