Here we are, 24 weeks along. Although the cliché is so cliché it’s hipster, it still rings very true: time flies. Particularly when you’re chasing a whirlwind toddler around…time really really flies. But I didn’t realize how quickly the days were passing until I responded to an email from a friend who is currently pregnant with her first child, and due just two days after me (assuming Kid Two is on time, hint hint).
She had asked what things were my must-haves for those newborn days (short answer: neck pillow, thousands of receiving blankets and sleep ‘n plays that zip, a Boppy pillow, gripe water for the baby and wine for me) and what “tips” I had. That’s the moment you’ve made it to Level 3 of the Mom Club: a first timer asks you for advice, because they trust your judgment. It’s flattering and intimidating, all at the same time. To realize that the same girl who thought nothing of table dancing during happy hour not too many years ago was now not only a parent, but a trusted parent with good judgment and decent mom skills, is totally b-a-n-a-n-a-s.
And so, in addition to the must have items that no one tells you about, I rattled off some of the things I learned during those very early days. Then, because I’m completely obsessive and an editor in a former life, I proofread my email prior to sending…and I was amazed at my own wisdom and sound advice. (Note: This is not bragging; this is me in shock and awe, seriously.)
I told her that of all the growth spurts your baby will hit, the three week spurt is the most terrifying, at least for me. Four days of crying that sounded less like a sweet, cuddly newborn and more like a screaming baby goat, and I was a frazzled mess. But we made it. We said goodbye to those growth spurt months long ago, but of all the transitions we experienced in that first year, the three week spurt is still the only one that gives me PTSD. If you’ve been through it, you know what I’m talking about. Maybe yours wasn’t the three week; maybe it was the two month, five month, seven month, etc. Maybe yours was that first round of teething, or the first ear infection, or getting your baby to latch properly. Maybe it was sleep training, because I know I’ve heard some horror stories. I believe that we all have that one particular moment in the infant days that we can reflect back on with thoughts of both terror and nostalgia, and heaps of gratitude, because we all survived.
I provided my thoughts on an epidural, which I did not have with my first, and which I do not plan on having with my second. But I gave her my thoughts from a place of knowing what was best for me, and that she would know what was best for her. I could tell she was leaning heavily towards forgoing the drugs, and I could also tell she was in need of some encouragement, which I gladly gave. I reminded her that the human body and mind are capable of things we can’t even imagine, and that the way your mind and body handle childbirth is truly miraculous and astounding. Moms will tell you they can’t describe the pain of childbirth, and that it’s forgotten the moment that sweet baby is placed in your arms. A lot of that is true (but if you get hemorrhoids, you will remember them forever and always for the rest of your days, I PROMISE) So, yes, you can do it without drugs, but stock up on the Dermoplast spray juuuust in case. TRUST ME.
My friend had also asked the “breastmilk or formula?” question that all soon-to-be moms ask. And to this, I told her she would know what was right. I cannot give advice on breastfeeding because I simply didn’t do it; but I can give advice on feeding your child with love. I reminded her that of all the opinions she will hear, articles and books she will read, and thoughts that will be bestowed upon her by others, no one – and I mean no one – knows what is better than she will. I told her that we’re all unsure as first timers. We’re all new to the circus that is life after the birth of your first child, and I come from an understanding that having the first child is the most intimidating. While I have the blessing of carrying the knowledge and wisdom I’ve gained to my second baby, I vividly remember those first baby days (probably because they weren’t that long ago). But I told her that even in her uncertainty, she will know. You may always question and wonder, but you will know, and you will all learn together. And so I wanted her to know that no matter how she chose to feed, she was doing so from a place of love, and that was most important.
My other responses ranged from advice on the simple (don’t buy a Diaper Genie, it’s totally not worth it) to the terrifying (should you choose to circumcise, know that THIS is what you’ll be doing for the next ten days…) to the gross (DID YOU KNOW YOU MIGHT POOP DURING DELIVERY?!) to the difficult (someone will judge you for a parenting decision; you will cry now, but you will laugh later, and you will know that you are the best mom your child could ever have).
As I closed my message, the realization hit me that all of this advice and wisdom can be applied to my own life, and very soon. I have a confidence (albeit a terrified confidence…) this time around that I didn’t before. I also have fears of other things, because I am aware of them now. But I also know that no matter where this journey heads next, no matter what our delivery is like, our Party of Three will handle with great grace and strength the addition that will make us a Party of Four.
16ish weeks to go,
PS – I think my husband wants three kids just so he can say “Party of Five.” What a nerd.