Stranger in a Strange Land (Having a Baby is Just Like Being a Clueless Tourist)

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newborn baby crying

My third child is due in June.  I know that, by now, I should have a clear, crisp and complete memory of what it’s like to have a newborn.  But that would assume my mind is still intact.  Not only has that ship sailed, but it has gone down in an undisclosed location near the Lost City of Atlantis.

Plus, the convenience of Parental Amnesia has set in.  You know, that Darwinian force that wills you to forget most of those details — so that the human race will continue to procreate and, by extension, exist beyond your lifetime. I haven’t forgotten everything, per se.  To oversimplify things, I know this much about the newborn phase:  It is hard but so worth it.  It is stunning and unforgettable and frustrating — often overwhelming — yet it goes by so fast. Sort of like traveling abroad.

Don’t believe me?  I think the similarities are evident:

You don’t speak the language.  You know that feeling — wandering around in a fog, somewhere between enchanted and frustrated as hell, because you can’t understand a damn thing that’s being said.  You are an outsider.  You can’t communicate, despite your desperate attempts through hand gestures,  other bizarre body language, inflection and gutteral noises you feel must be universal.  No dice. Are you trying to ask a local Parisian for directions, or are you attempting to communicate, plead and reason with a newborn?

You are awake at all hours of the night.  After a day of excitement — the beautiful sites, the new sounds, etc. — you find yourself wide awake at, say, 3am.  Maybe you visited The Great Wall and your adrenaline is pumping.  Maybe you are checking out that after-hours club along the Mediterranean.  Maybe you are jet lagged out of your damn mind and staring at your hotel ceiling.  OR, maybe you have a newborn who thinks that party time is run by the light of the moon.

Everything costs a fortune.  Every journey requires preparation.  Clothing.  Travel gear.  Gadgets.  And then, after months of such prep, your arrive at your destination and realize there are all kinds of must-haves indigenous to this land.  Your purchase way more shit than you ever, ever needed — because you’ve developed a bizarre propensity to pay a premium on just about anything.  Despite your carefully planned budget, the costs seem alarmingly disproportionate to what you considered spending at the outset of this adventure.  So.  Are you on an international vacation, or does a newborn live in your house?

The locals can be hostile.  You’ve tried your best to be polite, to be a kind ambassador of your land, to have patience and manners.  But the locals can just suck, right?  They seem to mock you, pretend not to hear you and just not provide any helpful clues about the lay of the land.  Yeah, your newborn is the same way.  She’ll even spit on you and scream in your ear for hours on end.  Where is the consideration, people?

The sites are beautiful, but it’s not easy to navigate this place.  It sure is lovely here — and I’ve never seen anything quite like this — I’m so lucky to be here.  But man, this is exhausting.  I wish I could enjoy it more.  I feel bad saying this, but I think I’ve had enough now.   It’s time to go back to my regular life.  I miss normalcy — and my bed.  Exotic travel or mom to a newborn?  Hard to say.

You try to convince your friends to come along.  Who would want to experience this alone?  Why, you must convince all of your like-minded girlfriends to join you.  I know, I know — it’s a big trip.  But it will be fun!  Of course we’ll stay on budget!  I’ve researched everything!  You only live once!  You’ll soooo regret it if you don’t!  And why not do it together?! {Subtitle:  I’m scared shitless to do this on my own and I’m taking you down with me}.  Girls’ getaway this summer, or group trip to Labor & Delivery?

And here I thought that my next exotic trip was painstakingly far into the future.  Not at all!  It looks like I should dust off my passport {and my credit card} and get ready for my next big journey to a foreign land in June. Now, really:  Who wants to come with me? Because it’s still scary the third time. Where the hell is my tour guide?

Comments

      • 11

        Rebeccah says

        Oh gosh – the unrealized wanderlust. It’s the absolute worst. I fantasize about travel pretty much constantly. Like super off the grid travel, like the Mongolian desert. Sigh.

  1. 14

    Kathy at kissing the frog says

    Perfect comparison! I love it. And I’d be down for a group trip to labor and delivery. Would have made the time go lots faster!!

    • 15

      kim @the fordeville diaries says

      Thanks Kathy.
      I’ll send you directions to my L&D — we can do manicures in between my contractions :)

  2. 16

    MILF Runner says

    I found the third time to be so familiar! I’m sure you’ll navigate your way around the “strangeness” with ease and grace :)

    • 17

      kim @the fordeville diaries says

      I’m so hoping you’re right! Because my international diplomacy skills are drained from mediating the arguments between the two kids I already have :)

  3. 18

    Anna says

    so, so funny. and honestly, newborns sounds much more glamorous when viewed as just an exciting mode of foreign travel that can be enjoyed from my very own home. congrats and enjoy number 3, and here’s hoping they are a quiet, mom-friendly destination!

    • 19

      kim @the fordeville diaries says

      Thanks Anna! As for the glamorous newborn, isn’t that a myth captured only for a fleeting moment by professional photographers?

    • 23

      kim @the fordeville diaries says

      Now you know you are just perpetually jet lagged. Doesn’t that sound more exotic than sleep-deprived?

    • 25

      kim @the fordeville diaries says

      Thanks. I realized I forgot to add that the shower situation is also less than ideal in both scenarios.

  4. 26

    HouseTalkN says

    So funny, Kim! Having a newborn is a wild ride every stinkin’ time. Shouldn’t we get a hall pass after the first one?

  5. 30

    Hannah says

    Great post! Also, based on a trip I once took to Mexico, you might also add: Violently sob as you ask god how so much poop can come out of one person.

  6. 33

    Deanna says

    I have found that the 3rd 4th and I assume (!!) so on just kind of blend right in. My 3rd was so easy we decided to have a 4th (DO NOT FALL INTO THAT TRAP!!! #4 is a raving lunitic…but OH so much fun!!)

  7. 37

    Jenny says

    This is exactly how I felt about my firstborn. I mean, exactly. I always used to say I felt like I’d been dropped into a foreign country where I didn’t speak the language, didn’t know a soul, and didn’t have a map. Especially if it’s your first, and especially if you haven’t been around babies much in life, it’s really a perfect metaphor. Love this!

    • 38

      kim @the fordeville diaries says

      If only we could incorporate the drinking quotient of a study abroad program. Oh, to be wholly irresponsible again…

  8. 39

    Natasha says

    This is SO true! I’m trying to find my favorite, but all of them are so on point that I can’t choose just one. Great post!

  9. 41

    Rose says

    My 3rd will be here in a few weeks, and no one believes I’ve totally went blank on what I’m supposed to do with him all day. At this point Im pretty alarmed and hope it comes back to me in a flash after he exits my body, that can happen right?!

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