My daughter just turned four months old and in some ways it has been a brutal four months. In other ways, I can’t believe it has already been four amazing months.
However I describe it, I have learned several things in these first 4 months:
1. Babies are jerks. Cute jerks, but still jerks.
2. Taking a baby out in public means EVERYONE will stop you and talk to you so, yeah, I totally know how Umbrella Attack Era Britney Spears felt.
3. We were listening to pop hits of the nineties and I bawled my eyes out to Where Have All the Cowboys Gone because the thought of my daughter having such an unhappy life was overwhelmingly awful. Pregnancy hormones have nothing on postpartum hormones.
4. It can be almost impossible to tell the difference between sleep deprivation and depression, especially when it’s probably at least a little of both.
5. I read everything I could find on baby sleep and made myself insane over it. The second I stopped reading and started responding to what she was actually doing instead of what she was supposed to be doing, it got better.
6. Weeks 3 through 5 were the worst weeks of my life. We came out the other side doing well, but I‘m terrified of having another kid and repeating that experience.
7. I didn’t feel the overwhelming love from the moment of her birth, but I do now. It is equal parts awesome and bone-deep terrifying.
8. I didn’t think I would post as much baby stuff on social media as I have. In those dark moments the narcissistic thrill of a Like can really help.
9. I will never judge anyone who doesn’t breastfeed for any reason. The mechanics of it came easily to me, but the physical demands were almost overwhelming. After crying with exhaustion and pain many times because she couldn’t possibly want to eat again (she did), I can harbor zero judgment on that subject.
10. Babies are jerks.
11. Coffee is the greatest beverage that has ever been invented. Every book I have says you can only have two cups a day while breastfeeding, except one book, which says you can have three. That book is my favorite.
12. Pre-baby if someone talked about their child doing something new, like recognizing an animal, I would sarcastically think, “Wow, future Rhodes Scholar you got there.” Turns out it’s seriously really awesome when your baby does something new. And I don’t expect anyone else to be as excited as I am.
13. Watching this baby sleep makes me feel something I have no words to describe. Probably because sleep deprivation and mommy brain have destroyed my cognitive skills.
14. I look at her at least three times a day and think, “Holy effing shit, that’s my baby” in all the different ways a person could think that thought.
15. “Sleep when the baby sleeps” is the worst advice EVER and if I could have done that/could currently do that I would.
16. Babies fart really loud and it is hilarious every time.
17. SIDS is utterly terrifying. I‘ve never been prone to paranoia or anxiety and generally don’t worry much, but the number of times I check that she is still breathing is ridiculous. It’s reassuring to know this is normal, but that worry took me by surprise.
18. Around her 1 month “birthday”, she stopped nursing, looked into my eyes, and smiled. Easily the greatest moment of my life.
19. Babies will communicate exactly what they need. If you learn to listen to your baby you don’t need any other advice. This is both easier and more difficult than you think.
20. Babies are jerks
First-time parenthood is a crazy ride, full of emotion. It’s wonderful, it’s awful, it’s hilarious, it tries to pull you down into a pit of despair. It’s a ride I am so glad to have bought the ticket and taken.