We like to celebrate a lot of babies’ firsts. Baby’s first bath, first car ride, first tooth… you name it. I have pages in my girls’ baby books dedicated to this stuff. But what about mom’s firsts? If you look at any of those things from the new mom lens, you can see that they’re firsts for her too. She’s just figuring it all out. And there are other things she has to figure out for herself too. If you’re a new mom, or you’re about to be one, there are some things you’ll probably do for the very first time that you might not see coming. Here are a few of mine.
- Leaving the house with a newborn by myself.
It was one thing leaving the hospital with newborn Madison when I had Matt by my side, a nurse to check the carseat straps and nowhere to be at any specific time. It was a whole other thing when I had to leave the house for our first doctor visit, just me and Madison. I probably gave myself about an hour to get her ready. Should be plenty of time, right? I fed her, burped her and got her dressed. Then she promptly pooped, blowout style, and had to be completely redressed. Then I started to get her into her carseat but I forgot how to loosen the straps (it’s a hidden button you press while pulling on them) and they were too tight to just pull over her arms without hurting her it seemed. So I fussed with that for a while, looked up a Youtube video and finally got it. Now she was really fussy and I was pretty sure she’d gotten hungry again. She was feeding about every hour, after all. So I fed her quickly and got her in the seat and got to the appointment about ten minutes late and completely frazzled.
- My first poop.
I got a little freaked out about what my first poop would be like after giving birth. I’d watched a vlog post that made it sound horrific. Keep in mind it was created by a woman who had a fourth-degree perineal tear, meaning it tore all the way to her anus. She painted a detailed picture of her first poop experience that she had procrastinated, making it worse, and it was painful and very messy. My tear was only second-degree so I had stitches but it was a “normal tear”. Still, it stung to pee so I was scared of what it would be like to take it a step further. Turns out I needn’t have worried. It was not at all painful. It was very straightforward and happened within the first 24 hours. A particularly polite poop for me, thanks very much. I was nervous to shower too but that also went fine.
- Going to the grocery store.
Okay, this one might seem dumb of me. I don’t know. Obviously if you take a small child to the grocery store you can sit them in the top of the cart right by the handle. But a newborn can’t hold their head up, let alone balance on the seat of a moving cart. So what do you do with them? It seems really silly, looking back, that I didn’t know what to do considering how many times I’ve done it now. But I had never seen it done (or noticed, at least) and at that time I hadn’t even had her in a wearable carrier yet and I was nervous to try that too. So I texted a friend to ask what she did. She told me the carseat would fit on the top half of the cart. That had not ocurred to me and it totally worked. I have since gone to the grocery store countless times with Madison and with Mallory (separately) either in the carseat or in the wearable carrier. It is actually quite simple as long as they don’t start screaming. I have yet to abandon a cart full of groceries in order to tend to a screaming child but I have had to hurry up and check out. Forget the yogourt, let’s go!
- Operating any new baby-related device.
Madison was born a week before her due date and one thing I had planned on doing during the week I thought I had left before her birth was familiarizing myself with all these new gadgets I’d gotten that would allegedly make having a newborn easier. I’d gotten a sound machine, a baby monitor, a bottle warmer, a santizer, a foldable stroller, and more. I didn’t know how to operate any of them and that was really stressing me out when I had a newborn to figure out at the same time. My sister helped me figure a couple out. My mother-in-law helped, my mom, too. With support, I got it all sorted. Individually none of them are particularly complicated. It was just the unknown weighing on my mind. But yeah, if you have time before baby comes I invite you to do what I had originally planned to do and get familiar BEFORE baby comes. But if you don’t get a chance don’t sweat it. You will figure it all out. And you don’t actually NEED any of that stuff. You basically just need breastmilk or formula, diapers and love. The rest will come.
- Leaving her in someone else’s care.
Even for an hour so I could go to the dentist it really stressed me out to leave Madison with anybody else. I left her with my mom and thought about her constantly and hurried back. And she was completely fine, obviously. Once I did it that time, it got easier and easier to do it again. So I recommend just doing it. Start really small if you need to.
- Sending her to daycare.
Okay so I got over letting her stay with my mom for an hour or two but when my maternity leave ended my mom had Madison at her house during the days while I worked from my home. I wasn’t nervous about this but I was sad. Even though I looked forward to getting back into an adult mindframe and having some quiet time, I still missed her like crazy. I went over almost every day for lunch for a while. And returning to my house for work felt lonely. The house felt uncomfortably empty and her toys looked oddly abandoned. But eventually I got used to it and I didn’t always have time to go over for lunch and that was okay.
And then one day she started daycare at a formal facility which was another emotional hurdle for me. I was nervous for her. I hoped she’d settle in and not feel scared and nap well and just generally not be sad. Of course you can’t control all these things so at some point she’s just got to work it out. It turns out she did fine. She didn’t jump right in but she slowly warmed up, she did nap, and she even had fun. The daycare has a camera that parents can log into to see their little ones during the day and I checked into that like crazy for the first few days. Slowly, over time, I stopped checking in entirely. And now she loves daycare and looks forward to it (and so do I).
Those are just a few firsts that stood out in my mind. Things I had to navigate as a new mom that I hadn’t given a lot of thought to beforehand. I am still having firsts here and there as Madison progresses through toddlerhood and I suppose there isn’t really an end to all that a parent needs to figure out. But the firsts I faced as a new mom were the most stressful because everything was new at that time. I hope that in reading this, a new mom out there might have a little less shock and a little more confidence when faced with firsts like these.