21 Things You'll Learn During The First Year

by Jennifer Canavan
Originally Published: 

Cliché Alert: The past twelve months have been a fucking blur.

It all started when I pushed a tiny human out of me last August. Six months later, we moved from rural Maryland to NYC. I started a new job. My husband started a new job. We attended 264 weddings (give or take a few), drove A LOT of miles and gained A LOT of gray hair.

And now, that tiny human is a chubby beast who is about to turn the big O-N-E. So allow me to share with you some things I have learned about babies, parenting and myself during year one:

1. Babies do not require nearly as much shit as the registry consultant at Buy Buy Baby will try to convince you they need. These people are trained assassins who prey on the hormonal instability of soon-to-be new moms and clueless fathers/partners/baby daddies. Somehow we were able to keep our daughter alive without warming her wipes and with only ONE bouncy chair … not FOUR.

2. I am convinced that 99.9% of children’s television shows are created by sadists on Quaaludes. Substitute with the Food Network or HGTV whenever possible. I’m hoping that by the time she turns two, she’ll be able to install a backsplash in our kitchen AND know the secret to perfectly braised short ribs.

3. ALWAYS keep your newborn’s “danger zone” covered while changing their diaper … unless you enjoy getting shot in the eye with urine/feces first thing in the morning.

4. Do not pay attention to other babies’ milestones. Everyone develops at a different rate. If there’s a real cause for concern, your pediatrician will let you know. Therefore, feel free to punch the next person who asks why your 10-month-old isn’t crawling yet directly in the face.


5. Mealtimes are the equivalent of sitting first row at a Gallagher show once your baby starts eating “solid” (nasty mush) food. Wear a rain poncho or don’t bother getting dressed for work until AFTER they are fed. Most of their breakfast WILL end up on you. And you will probably have a very important meeting that day.

6. If you ever want to sleep again, get your baby into their own bed and on a schedule ASAP. According to people who are way more intelligent than I am, children are comforted by a routine and, just like anything else, you have to TEACH your baby how to sleep. This was invaluable to regaining some sense of sanity. Our daughter may be a pain in the ass when it comes to other things, but the kid has been sleeping like a champ since she was 2 months old.

7. Finding child care is THE WORST. It’s basically a more torturous form of dating. Whether you are interviewing nannies, trying to retain the one you already have or figuring out a way to bribe your way to the front of a 1+ year waiting list at a daycare facility … you will lose your mind and your paycheck.

8. Playgrounds in NYC on a summer day can be likened to the Ninth Circle of Hell; hot as fuck, echoing screams, dirt-ridden humans climbing all over each other … I could go on.

9. If you don’t already have friends with kids … find some. They will be invaluable for providing moral support and advice, and are completely capable of maintaining a conversation regardless of screaming children in the background.

10. Your baby WILL roll off the couch/bed no matter how much you swear you are more careful than every other parent on the planet and would never allow it to happen to your own kid. It’s going to happen and you will most likely be trolling Instagram when it does. Luckily, kids are pretty resilient. But put some pillows on the ground just in case.

11. If you have hardwood floors, attach Swiffer cloths to your baby’s hands and knees as soon as they start crawling to create an inexpensive DIY version of the iRobot Roomba.

12. Take the batteries out of the TV remote BEFORE giving your child free rein to press every button and completely fuck up your DVR settings.

13. Do not waste money on expensive baby toys. Kitchen utensils, empty water bottles, wrapping paper, shoe boxes, shopping bags, paper towels and magazines will keep them entertained 50 times longer. (NOTE: This translates to approximately 50 seconds.)

14. Anyone who makes it through a full year of taking monthly pics with those numerical stickers deserves a fucking medal. In the midst of our move I lost the stickers. Game over. Even when I had them, I’m pretty sure that months four and five were taken like two weeks apart from each other because I kept forgetting.

15. If you have ever judged another parent while their kid was having a public meltdown, karma will get you back. BAD. I am now the proud owner of a little hellion who enjoys squealing at the top of her lungs as if she were Celine Dion’s much less talented twin. All. The. Time. It isn’t even crying. It is a high-pitched screeching that only dolphins and bats should be able to hear. She isn’t hungry, tired, or sitting in a pile of her own shit … she just wants EVERYONE within a 2-mile radius to acknowledge her. It’s not cute. Despite all of my attempts to keep her quiet, there is nothing I can do to stop this from happening. Apparently this is a phase. And if for some reason, you suffer from hearing loss or simply are not bothered by the screaming, then she will take off her shoe and throw it at you.

16. Forget fancy teething rings with all the bells and whistles; chewing on a wet washcloth works better than any teething toy. And if that doesn’t work … Tylenol.

17. Puff snacks = baby crack. Once your child has even just one tooth, NEVER leave home without them.

18. Germs happen. At some point everything within grabbing distance will end up in their mouth: your cell phone, car keys, their feet, the dog’s tail, dirty tissues from the garbage. You can only sterilize every single surface so many times before you give up and adopt the new motto: “Eh, it will help build her immune system.”

19. Take your baby to the bar … and everywhere else. We bring our kiddo just about anywhere we would normally go in the hopes that we will gently brainwash her into believing that $1 oyster happy hour is way better than Chuck E. Cheese.

20. During the first year, DO NOT do something stupid like pass on birth control, drink three martinis, tell your husband, “Don’t worry, I’m totally not ovulating right now,” and then get unsafely frisky. If so, you WILL find yourself standing in line at the drugstore having a panic attack with a 4-month-old strapped to your chest and a shopping basket filled with three different brands of pregnancy tests or the morning after pill.

21. While my FB and IG newsfeeds have never lacked new moms sharing feelings of how their hearts “burst with joy and an overwhelming sense of love that they never knew existed” at the very moment their child exited their body … that wasn’t exactly the way I felt. It wasn’t all rainbows & butterflies.

During those first several weeks I was totally confused, overwhelmed and felt a bit disconnected. I never had bad thoughts, but perhaps it was a mild form of postpartum. People may think I am coldhearted and nuts for admitting this, but it’s the truth. I beat myself up over this and carried an enormous amount of guilt, but I don’t think anyone should feel ashamed if they feel and/or have felt this way. I do suggest talking to someone about it though.

I guess, when you think about it, we were both strangers to one another. And anyone who knows me, knows that it takes time for me to warm up to new people. I don’t just fall head over heels the moment I meet someone (unless I’m drunk). And the hospital did not serve alcohol. However, as I have gotten to know this little lady, my love has grown to an obsessive level and I am eternally grateful for her … despite the fact that she will only say “Dada.”

And here’s another shocker – I DO NOT want to stop time. Why? Because in my opinion, she gets cooler with each passing day. Also, I really need her to get a job and start contributing to the rent. I definitely do not think that this parenting thing gets easier, but it DOES get a hell of a lot more entertaining.

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