I remember being a new parent. I remember how it feels to worry that any little decision will irrevocably harm the precious new life you are now fully in charge of. I remember the frenzy Jack’s cry created in me, the overwhelming urge to OMGFIXITNOW. I recall hovering nearby whenever anyone else held Jack in case he needed me. It all felt like a weird dream and the role change was so jarring that I could hardly remember what I did prior to having Jack.
I visited a co-worker and her newborn baby Sunday. She and her baby are trying to figure out breastfeeding and she didn’t feel comfortable going to her midwife with her questions. I gave her some tips but mostly I just tried to be reassuring. I think one of the most important things to hear as a new parent is that you are doing everything as you should be! At one point she asked me incredulously if I really wanted to go through all of it again. I laughed and said it’s taken me three and a half years to be ready to do it again (and I’m not even quite ready now). I do recall being in her place and wondering why in the hell anyone had a second child. I doubt there is anything so humbling as becoming a parent and realizing that all of the things you filled your life with pre-baby are now completely unimportant and alien.
I liked sitting on the other side of the fence and realizing how much has changed in my outlook since Jack was born. There are so many things that being a new parent taught me, and I really think things will be a little less overwhelming that second time around because:
- When I have that second child, I will already be a mom. I will have to stretch my identity a bit to “mom of two” but the much larger non-mom–>mom shift has already happened.
- I now know that babies cry, as opposed to I am screwing something up and making my baby cry.
- I know that when you’re in the trenches it seems like you’ll never get out, but that things will change in an hour, a day, or a week. Change is constant and with each change, you learn to handle things with a little bit more grace.
- I am quite aware that things always seem worse when hormones are involved and things get better once the hormones calm down.
- I am confident that the baby knows even less than I do!
I have a lot of parents reading my blog who are removed enough from that newborn period to have figured a lot of this out, as well. Some of you have second (or more) children and may have some things to add – please comment and let me know what conclusions you have come to about your journey into parenthood! I can’t think of a day that has gone by since Jack came into my life that I didn’t think about what becoming a parent is all about.