It is a pretty steep learning curve when you become a parent for the first time. After a month and half, I wanted to share some of the lessons I have learned so far.1. Bring new parents food. Our friends organized a meal train. You pick the nights you could use a meal and people sign up online for different nights. Great way for them to meet the new baby for a short visit while you eat something warm and delicious. That frees you up to rest, work on laundry and try to get a regular shower. Don’t forget dessert and the occasional six pack. We enjoyed a range of thoughtful meals from hearty homemade dishes to picnics in bed with tapas.
2. Clean the new parents’ house. Arrange a time to come by, tell them to take a nap while you work and systematically clean their house room-by-room. Be insistent – no one wants to ask a friend to scrub their floors, but they will be forever grateful to you for doing it. My Mom came by those first few weeks to mop, vacuum, scrub the bathroom, do my laundry and dishes. It was like the heavens parted and sent a cleaning angel to me.
3. Family becomes incredibly important overnight. Even if they were important before, it’s more so when the baby comes. We had family visit from Oklahoma and it meant the world to us to have them bond with Juniper so early on.
4. The life and vigor of babies is contagious. Walking down the halls of an assisted living center draws coos from the staff and residents. After ten kids of her own, 30+ grandchildren and 50+ great-grandchildren, my 98-year old Nana is still baby crazy.
5. Have a network of support. Perhaps the biggest lesson learned. Most of our friends don’t have kids, but our midwife clinic puts together mama groups for women due around the same time. It has been invaluable to swap stories, share advice, and continually ask the question “is this normal” with other people in the same boat. We got together for a potluck recently with our partners and winter babies – such fun!
6. The tiniest person you have ever seen will bring you the greatest joy you’ve ever known. I find myself being more cautious with my own safety because I now have someone completely dependent on me. My neck was sore the first few weeks from just staring down at her.
7. You will find yourself doing things you never quite imagined. I ate my own placenta. Okay, not with a fork and knife. But I had it dried and encapsulated so I could take it as a supplement. I know, ew. Yet it is amazing for increasing milk supply, helping with postpartum depression, replacing nutrients lost in labor for healing, etc.
8. Their littlest milestones are huge victories. It seemed so incredibly when Juniper first became fascinated with her black & white book. Yes! She can focus on something! It’s totally entertaining her for five minutes!! Lately she has begun to smile socially, meaning in reaction to you and not gas. Yes! Another huge victory! She’s becoming a person with preferences and opinions on things!
9. Each side of the family will claim traits from your baby. Her nose, hair color, eyelashes, mouth, fingers and feet have all been “claimed” by each side of our family as being clearly inherited from that side of the family. You do the math on that one.
10. Your baby won’t look like any other baby you have ever seen before. You know how sometimes all babies look the same? Well, not your baby. The moment she entered my arms I knew she was mine. She didn’t look like any other baby I had ever seen. Even now, I see something familiar to me in her face.
So many more things to learn. Everyday is new – sometimes a struggle but most of the time not. I’m getting enough sleep, getting mostly regular showers, eating mostly well. But most importantly, I am still blissed out beyond belief with this new chapter in my life.