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The Baby’s Here–Now What?

Categories: maternity leave

11 comments

All 7 pounds, 2 ounces, 21.5 inches, and dark brown hair of my perfect little son arrived at 5:25 p.m. on his due date, December 14, no induction necessary. Considering that only about 5 to 10 percent of babies are born on their due dates, I’d say he had a brilliant sense of timing if not for the fact that the labor lasted twenty-six hours, and that’s if you don’t count the day and a half of painful contractions leading up to that. But all’s well that ends well, everyone’s healthy and recovered, and although I can’t speak for the kid himself, he seems to be enjoying this world as much as the world enjoys having him in it.

And so now I’m a mom. Time to roll up my sleeves and dive elbow deep into the hard work of parenthood.

But…is this it? I dare not even whisper the word “easy” in present company, but I will say that the experience so far has been overwhelmingly pleasant. Of course there’s the usual elation and slackjawed wonder at the miracle of it all, but what I’m talking about here is how much pure fun it’s been doing the “work” part of having a baby. In the weeks leading up to the birth, I’d really taken to heart the old chestnut that advises us to expect the best but prepare for the worst, and by the time the kid was undoubtedly on his way, I was well rehearsed and ready to star in my own B-movie zombie extravaganza; bring on the sleepless nights, under-eye circles, and daily menu of braaaaains–anything will do so long as I have five uninterrupted minutes to eat while the meal’s still hot. And yet, now here we are more than two weeks later and I’m still waiting for the director to shout “Action!” When will the oft-cursed misery of first-time parenthood begin? Have I really been lucky enough to dodge that bullet?  

Granted, the little dude is only sixteen days old and we’ve had family helping out and extra leeway with our jobs and very few expectations from anyone–including ourselves–to do anything but care for and get to know our son during these early days, but…Nevermind. I just answered my own question. Having help, leeway, and reasonable expectations are just as important to surviving newbornhood as being prepared. Books, magazines, websites, blogs, and even childbirth classes won’t do as much for your sanity as will a grandma who can soothe an infant while Mommy takes a shower, or as friends who will hand-deliver a couple of burritos from your favorite take-out restaurant.    

It is work, yes, but it’s a different type of work than I expected. I thought it would be more sleepless, more thankless, more of a challenge to my identity as a woman and a spouse and an individual. Maybe those days are still to come, and maybe I should stop peeking around every corner looking for them. For now, the best use of what little free time I have is definitely best spent counting my blessings and kissing baby toes rather than tidying the kitchen or thinking about my office job or worrying about the hospital bill. Having a baby adds a lot of extra tasks to my to-do list, but it also helps prioritize it: everything is now second to Being a Good Mom. 

 



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11 comments so far...

  • Spouse? I thought you guys weren’t married.

    Some people just have any easier time of adjusting to parenthood and I’m glad to hear your one of them.

    Dorie  |  December 31st, 2008 at 1:35 pm

  • Congratulations!!!
    I loved loved loved the newborn stage! It was one of the most magical times in my life. Even with the extra work I love the little toes, when they first smile. Everyone is different and every baby has its own temperment. I never had a colicy baby (pray you don’t either) Even the laundry was fun. The cute tiny outfits. However, the newborn stage vanishes very quickly and before you know it you have a four year old getting into the sugar bowl.

    Enjoy every moment and every stage. They all come with blessings and challenges.

    Terri  |  January 1st, 2009 at 4:40 am

  • I’ve been looking forward to this post, but it was way better than I expected. I’m due in April, and have been trying to simultaneously somehow prepare for and hope that I can avoid the prophesied misery of having a new baby. This whole time I’ve wondered if it isn’t possible to get through just fine, happy even, and your post has confirmed that it is possible! I’ll make sure we have plenty of help and I won’t worry about the state of the kitchen, and there doesn’t have to be misery! Thank you!

    Margie  |  January 2nd, 2009 at 8:07 am

  • glad to hear you’re having an easy time of it–about a perfect 180 of my experience, where two days after the child was born everyone left me and I had to ferry her and myself around to doctor’s appointments all day, despite the fact that I hadn’t slept since I went into labor. Plus work was calling to ask me to check my email. And hubby went back to work himself and asked me to please not disturb him after 9 pm. Count your blessings. Support is essential and not everyone gets it.

    Samantha  |  January 2nd, 2009 at 8:39 am

  • Congrats on your first child! As I have just had my third son and already planning a fourth child, I can tell you that every baby is different. Having help around you does make a difference. I would be curious to see how things go over the next few weeks. Motherhood is ever changing as your baby grows. I am amazed with each child.

    Lisa Nolan  |  January 2nd, 2009 at 9:50 am

  • Congratulations!!!
    My daughter was also born on her due date.

    Enjoy, it’s not as bad and difficult as people make it out to be. I mean there are of course difficult times, like when you return to work, look for a nanny, can’t make time for household chores because you kids and work keeping you busy. Or when you son goes to K and starts asking you questions, you are not ready to answer, like, “how was I made? who made me?”

    But it’s great. Enjoy. I am going out for lunch with my son now and really thrilled about it.

    Vera Babayeva  |  January 2nd, 2009 at 10:59 am

  • I avoided motherhood because of all the work.

    But after being a mother for more then 3 years, it’s a lot different than I expected. All the work is such a joy! Yes, my baby doesn’t sleep well all alone in her own bed, but darn it, I have a baby resting on a boppy while I cruise the net. I can’t do dishes or laundry or mop the floor. But those chores will wait.

    My theory is that we share the hard parts of parenting with expectant parents because it’s hard to describe the amazing joy and fulfillment that a little one brings. Or maybe there’s something sweet about the hopeful expectant parent that incites experienced parents tell only the challenges.

    Embrace and enjoy yourself!

    Rachel  |  January 2nd, 2009 at 9:11 pm

  • Congrats and enjoy! I had twins, and FWIW they didn’t “wake up” until they were about 6 weeks old. That’s when things got harder for us–also probably because I went back to work around week 7! I remember some blissful moments with them early on when I thought we were really going to have a handle on this parenting thing. There are ups and downs of course! But some people Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff as much as others. My husband and I are pretty intense people, and we ended up with intense children. So we sweat everything. LOL

    spacegeek  |  January 3rd, 2009 at 3:05 pm

  • Congrats Leah! Glad that it’s been a fun experience so far…nice to know the first few weeks don’t kick every new mom’s butt! Enjoy your little man.

    JennyL  |  January 4th, 2009 at 6:03 pm

  • How great for you that it’s been so (gasp) easy! For me, the first two weeks were a living hell of extreme ppd, breastfeeding nightmares, endless crying jags, and my husband refusing to let any family stay with us because “we’re the parents and we can do this ourselves.” I envy you this peaceful, joyous time. Please, on behalf of those of us who didn’t have it, enjoy it! (no snark intended)

    Robyn  |  January 6th, 2009 at 8:29 am

  • Congratulations! Your baby is beautiful!

    In general, I would say that a.) it’s mostly luck, b.) it IS different with every child–you may get an easy first baby and an incredibly tough second one, and c.) things change on a weekly if not daily basis, so don’t get either too lulled by the ease of things when life is great OR too distraught when life is crazy.

    Regarding point a), whenever I hear about babies/experiences like this, it confirms to be that some people luck out with relatively easygoing, good-sleeping, good-eating babies and others draw a different card. My first baby arrived after four days of back labor and a medically traumatic delivery, she had colic and cried all night long for every night for her entire first month of life (unless nursing), she had three ER visits for various maladies in her first two weeks of life, she didn’t nap for more than 20 minutes at a time from five weeks old to six months old, and I suffered from recurrent, painful breast infections until she was three months old. So, it was anything but easy or pleasant, but it was just the way things happened for me. We survived!

    Shannon  |  January 14th, 2009 at 12:21 pm

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