At 35 weeks, I have about five weeks until I meet the latest addition to my household. However, as we all know, babies have a mind of their own and arrive when they feel like it. Either way, my days as the parent of an only child are quickly coming to a close. While waiting on our new bundle, I can’t help but be a bit nervous.
Considering we have an almost three-year-old, we aren’t completely inexperienced at the newborn thing. But that also means I remember the rough parts of the newborn phase too. Now I’ll be doing it with two kids. Here are just a few of the things that terrify me about the newborn stage, as a second time mom.
1. Fears of Fragility
My son was about a month old before I felt like I was a baby-holding pro. The early days, when they’re so fresh and tiny, makes me hyper-aware of a newborn’s fragility. I’m expecting a growth restricted (IUGR) baby this time so I know she will be smaller than anything I’ve ever held. It’s silly, but I’m terrified of somehow breaking her.
2. Where’s My Milk?
The first go-round, my son was in the NICU for the first week and had access to donor milk. I’m hoping to avoid the NICU process this time, but I remember it felt like forever before my milk came in. I’m pretty educated in breastfeeding, so I know that colostrum of the early stages is enough to keep their small tummies full. But I don’t know any breastfeeding moms who weren’t (impatiently) waiting for those small gold drops to evolve into white streams of joy. Please don’t let me down, milk. Well actually do let down, but please just come through asap.
3. The “Are You Breathing?” Checks
Few things look as peaceful as a sleeping baby. But while they sleep, a lot of parents (like me) feel the need to check on them every 30 seconds. Don’t get me wrong, I want her to sleep soundly and I hope that she has the best dreams a baby could ask for. I’d also be fine with a few random signs of life to reassure me that everything is okay, so that I can try to rest too.
4. What Does That Cry Mean?
Babies communicate almost exclusively through cries and body cues. It makes sense that they would have a lot of them. But the process of learning all of those sounds and cues never feels simple.
I can see the scene of the first few weeks in my head. “Are you hungry?” I ask. “Wahhhhhhhhhhhhhh,” she responds. “How about an extra blanket?” “Waah waah wah,” I hear.
Next, my son comes in to inform me, “Momma, baby sad.”
“I know, buddy. Me too.” And then exhausted and overwhelmed, I proceed to cry on the floor.
Don’t worry. By month three, I’ll be a pro. (I hope.)
5. Cluster Feeding
I won’t say I enjoy breastfeeding, but I do enjoy how easy it is to do once you get started. I’m pretty sure my baby will spend most of her time wrapped onto my chest. It makes sense for us to create a “one stop shop” environment and get all her comforts in one place.
Nonetheless, the early days of breastfeeding involve a huge learning curve and several growth spurts. All of that translates to cluster feeding — which is the absolute worst. I know baby needs the food and mommas milk supply will need the help. But why can’t I just use an “easy button” so I feel less like a milk machine and more like a person?
6. Clipping Nails
The only thing scarier than holding a new baby is clipping their nails. The Internet is filled with jokes on the terror involved in the first nail clip, and I don’t see myself being any less afraid the second time around. In fact, I think I would rather diffuse a bomb than cut a newborns nails. Sadly, it’s a necessary evil. I’ll even say it in my native Southern tongue: Jesus be a fence! I’m not particularly religious but, I need all the help I can get.
7. What Is Sleep?
My husband and I use comic relief to make it through hard times. I remember we were walking zombies with the first kid. Now that first kid is almost three and much more self-sufficient, but he wakes up around 6:30 most days and thinks bedtime is cause for rebellion. I’m pretty nervous about how hard it will be to juggle the erratic newborn sleep schedule along with the bedtime anarchy of a near three-year-old when my husband returns to work. And by “nervous,” I mean downright terrified.
8. Double ‘Doody’
It might seem silly but I’ve spent way too much time thinking about all of the poop headed my way. I mean that literally, not metaphorically. The early stages are all about poop: frequency, color, consistency. It tells you a lot about the new babies health. But now, there will be two times the poop in my house and I’m hoping not to get lost in the avalanche of shit.
The money spent on diapers, the frustrations of retrying the cloth lifestyle, and the frustrations of potty training are going to be regular parts of my life. Send help. And tell them to find me by looking for the smell.