This post was originally run on Scary Mommy last year, but as we’re now doing this again I thought I would share it here with a few new thoughts.
When Connor was born, we were the quiet room in the hospital – the one whose walls didn’t vibrate with crying baby sounds. The nurses rarely visited us because we didn’t need much other than the usual post C-section/new baby checks.
“You two have it figured out,” one nurse said.
“You’ll be back here with your second in no time,” said another.
Not so much, as it turned out.
The first month was great. We reveled in the middle-of-the-night feedings, watched him sleep peacefully wherever he happened to doze, and slapped each other on the back for being such great – and natural – parents. The secret to this baby thing, we decided, was not to be overly anxious about it. Those parents who hovered nervously were the ones who were going to have a tough time. We were sure of it.
Then the second month came and he got really fussy.
By the third month he hadn’t grown out of it like my mom predicted he would.
When the fourth month came around and his sleeping got worse instead of better we had to admit we were overwhelmed.
“Your instincts will guide you,” is the common wisdom. “You will just know what needs to be done.”
It’s all hooey, isn’t it?
Parenting a newborn is hard.
I had figured out nursing and we didn’t have many struggles there, fortunately. Thanks to the nurses in the hospital we were comfortable giving him a bath. But a lot of the other stuff was a total nightmare.
He was up so much at night I thought I was going to die. (At one year of age and then two and then three and then four he still didn’t sleep through the night. We seem to have overcome that nightmarish bump, but you didn’t hear it from me.) He fussed ALL the time, or at least that’s what it felt like to me. He didn’t like the stroller unless it was on a gravel path. He was okay in the carrier, but only if I bounced. It took us hours, literally, to put him to bed at night. One night it took us five hours, during which my husband spent a lot of time walking up and down the stairs with Connor in the Snugli. When he was finally asleep we phoned my parents. “Send whiskey,” we said. My mom wanted to know if it was for us or for him. Both. Definitely both.
I’m used to feeling competent. I was pretty good at my day job, I think, but that new day-and-night job nearly killed me.
Looking back, I think maybe I tried too hard. I read too many parenting books, that’s for sure. I spent too much time on forums comparing my baby to others and my mothering to what their mothers were doing. I spent too much time thinking about what I “should” do that would make me a “good” mother.
It’s all hooey. I know that now.
You just have to do your best and trust that it’s good enough. And maybe keep a bottle of whiskey nearby, just in case.
Now that we’re through the early newborn days with Ethan, I’ve think it’s true that I did too much of some of those things with Connor – too much reading, too much comparing, too much expecting-thing-to-happen-a-certain-way. Sure, Ethan’s a much easier baby, but I think I am reading his cues more and worrying less about whether he’s doing what other babies his age are doing.
Or maybe that’s hooey too, and it’s not what I’m doing but that he’s just a much easier baby.
In any case, he’s four months old now (already?!) and I’m kind of glad I don’t have to do the brand-new-newborn thing again.
But still, he’s darn cute. Don’t you think?