Not long ago I had a baby. It’s amazing how much I deeply understand the challenges and unique characteristics of a certain phase while I’m in it, but once it has passed, I can’t remember a thing. For example, if you ask me when Hailey got her first tooth, I’d be scrolling the archives because I’m clueless!
8 months old; I couldn’t resist and had to go look.
Now I call these two sweet girls “my babies” but the truth is I have preschooler and a toddler (who I will call a toddler until the day she turns 3). And before these adorable baby days are too far behind me, I thought it would be a good idea to write these down for my future self, so when those around me have babies and I’m tempted to say, why can’t you meet me for coffee at 10:30 am? Just bring the baby! I’ll know better.
Overtired is a real thing. This might top the list as most mind blowing. How can a baby be overtired when a baby can sleep whenever a baby wants? I don’t know but I know it’s a thing. And the best cure is a good sleep schedule and ensuring the baby is sleeping enough. Sleep begets sleep and though pre-kid me may have thought the baby will sleep harder at night if she skips a nap, I was wrong. Very, very wrong.
Sleep deprivation is legit. And it’s nasty. You know your sleep is going to be messed with when you have a new baby because everyone jokes about it. However, it’s serious. Lack of sleep will mess with your moods and your sanity. It’s a tired you feel down in your bones. I would have mild anxiety before going to bed some nights just calculating the number of hours I wouldn’t be getting. And honestly? I didn’t even have it that bad.
White noise for babies should be loud. The pictures all show a soft hum or shh-ing, but those pictures are wrong. It needs to sound like a hurricane is engulfing the baby’s head to work its fabulous magic. Once the baby gets a little older, absolutely turn it down, but in the beginning- hurricane level. Trust me.
Swaddling is a talent worth learning. I know there are countless “magic” blankets with adorable prints and velcro, but in my two-baby experience, nothing beats a legit, old-fashioned swaddle with a blanket. Use the fancy velcro swaddles as a second swaddle over the first; double swaddle FTW! And swaddle them tightly. Yes, they will resist it but then they’ll sleep for a 7 hour stretch and you’ll realize maybe they don’t hate it all that much.
You will immediately understand the magic of holidays. Sure your baby is so young she may only be able to see 3 inches in front of her face but you’ll still go crazy decking the halls with blinking Christmas lights. And you’ll be right. Holidays with kids is the best thing in the world.
If you’re lucky, your family will be just as nuts about going all out too.
Trusting your gut is more valuable than parenting books. I think I read this book and that was it. I realized I know my kids better than anyone else in the world. And you know yours better than anyone else too. Take a deep breath, don’t give into the crazy, and trust your gut.
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You really do think your kid is a special snowflake. I always thought I would be levelheaded and objective but then they showed up and nope, my kids really are the most brilliant, adorable, hilarious, and super super special kids ever. Just like yours.
Babies communicate more than we give them credit for. By a few months in, you’re able to tell the difference between a I’m sad/hurt/hungry/cold/tired cry. It’s kind of crazy. Also, when a baby is trying to look away from you, let them. It’s a natural way for them to say they need a break so they don’t get overstimulated. They’ll look back your way when they are ready to engage again.
Breastfeeding is not innate. I breastfed exclusively for over 3 years total. Though I cherish that time, it does not mean it was easy. In the beginning it hurt like Hades, her latch wasn’t quite right, then there was clogged ducts and distractions. I didn’t innately know how to handle all of this, but I learned. Support is invaluable.
Most babies need help to fall asleep. Some pass out in the middle of tummy time but others (mine) might need total darkness, a tight swaddle, and bouncing. And back to the overtired thing… jumping into action at the first yawn is crucial.
Babies make talking on the phone a thing of the past. When babies are babies and you are living in 3 hour cycles, in the 45 minutes you get (if you’re lucky) of quiet time (while they sleep), all you want to do is eat, shower, or zone out before it starts over again. Then as they grow it just gets louder and they demand more of your attention. I’m 95% certain this is why they invented text messaging.
The intense love you have for them is like nothing you can imagine. I would do anything for my two little monkeys, no matter how whiny they’ve been that day (/week). I’ve realized in complete awe at how much my parents must love me. It’s really something I never fully grasped until I had a child of my own.
If you talk to 100 other moms, I’m sure you will get 100 different answers, but one thing is for sure. I thought I knew babies and kids pretty well before becoming a mom, but it turns out, I definitely did not. I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to go through the baby phase with my two sweet girls.
Now please excuse while I spend the next 4 hours combing through more baby pictures of baby Hailey and trying to not let my ovaries explode. My, my, how times flies!
Moms, what is one thing that you didn’t know about babies until you had one?