Your first bundle of joy is in your arms. He or she has finally stopped screaming after exiting your womb and has settled into a “what just happened to me?!” deep sleep. You stare and think, “This is perfect. He is perfect. Life is perfect.”
And it’s all downhill from there.
No matter how many books or blogs you read or classes you take, you will never be fully prepared for taking care of an actual living, breathing, burping little person. Things happen that you’re not expecting. You won’t know how to handle them until they actually happen to you – and they normally happen when you’re least expecting it. Here are nine awkward first moments for new parents.
1. The first time you have to decide if your newborn will sleep with you or in the nursery. Your baby was born mere hours ago, and now the nurses are asking you, “Would you like us to take him to the nursery so you can get some rest?” Well, no. I want him to stay here. I just birthed him for crying out loud. But I don’t know what I’m doing. You know what you’re doing. Maybe he should go with you. But what kind of mother doesn’t want to spend the first night with her child? Will you judge me? I have been up for 52 hours straight … but I love my baby. But but but … I don’t know!
2. The first time your breastmilk leaves a wet spot on your shirt. You’re so happy when your milk finally comes in. Hooray! Rite of passage achieved! You hear your baby guzzle and suck down the nutrients and you are overwhelmed with joy. Then your in-laws are over visiting while your baby is asleep. He wakes up crying, your milk lets down with the force of a firehose, and suddenly you have two targets on your shirt outlining exactly where your nipples are. You cover up to decrease the embarrassment – which means you’re essentially grabbing your boobs – and run off to rescue your baby and change your shirt. And throw some nursing pads into your bra.
3. The first time your kid poops on you. My daughter was two weeks old when this happened. She woke up around 2 a.m., and I opted to change her in the dark of our bedroom so as not to disturb her or my husband. Her diaper was saturated, so I changed it as quickly as possible. Diaper off, lower body wiped, lift the legs to put the new diaper under her booty and SPLAT. Poop fired out of her butt like a paint ball gun all over me. She didn’t get one bit on the changing table. That’s how good her aim was. The panic ensued. “What do I do?! Get out of my craptastic clothes first and leave her whining and naked? Get her changed and just wear poop pants? What order do I do these things in?!”
4. The first time your baby has a meltdown in a restaurant. It’s your first night out with the baby. He’s sleeping peacefully in his car seat, and it appears that you’re going to actually enjoy a meal for the first time in months. Then he wakes up. Then he starts crying. Then he won’t stop crying. You try feeding him, holding him, bouncing him, rocking him, and his screams get louder and more insistent. People are staring at you. They’re rolling their eyes. Their judgment pierces your brain as you try to figure out what the hell to do. Your face reddens with embarrassment as you toss a twenty onto your table, pack the kid up, and yell over your shoulder for the waitress to bring your food out to your car.
5. The first time you cut your baby’s fingernails. Your baby is scratching his face, so you break out the clippers for the first time. His fingers are TINY. The clippers seem HUGE. You don’t want to accidentally hurt him. Do you do it while he’s asleep? What if you cut him and wake him up, which will really piss him off? If you do it while he’s awake, he may squirm and you’ll cut him. You can’t win. It’s going to be wrong no matter what you do. Welcome to motherhood.
6. The first time your kid rolls over. Sure, you could be one of those lucky parents who gets to see your kid roll over for the first time while you cheer and clap. Or you could be like me. My son was lying on a blanket surrounded by some toys and blocks to look at. I left to go pee and came back to this:
My first thought was, “Wait. He wasn’t like that when I left, right?” as if I wouldn’t have noticed. Then, “I can’t believe I missed it!” Then, “That doesn’t look comfortable at all. What kind of mother am I?”
7. The first time you use a breast pump. Pumping milk is discussed so often these days that it sounds almost as natural as breastfeeding itself. It is not. You will suck at it the first time. You will turn the sucking strength up too high and feel like your nipples are being pulled by the force of a black hole. You won’t have the cups lined up right and milk will drip and squirt all over everything. And, when you get it right, milk is being pulled out of your body like Bessie the Brown Cow. Just moo and continue.
8. The first time your baby projectile vomits. I’m not talking about a little spit up. I’m talking about a curdled Niagara Falls spewing out with force and distance and stank. You never expect it. You’re holding her on your shoulder, maybe trying to get her to sleep, and then you hear and feel and smell hot liquid covering your neck, shoulder, back, and the floor behind you. The volume of the vomit alone is surprising and impressive, as you’re positive the milk multiplied inside of your baby’s belly. And damn does it smell just putrid.
9. The first time your kid has a blowout. This normally happens when you’re in untamed love mode. Your baby is making sleepy grunting noises, his eyes twitching as he sleeps, and you breathe a sigh of relief. This is love. Then you hear a rumbling, a gurgling, and the smell hits your nose. Your baby has not just pooped, but her butt has expelled its contents all over her diaper, her shirt, her back, her hair. It’s everywhere. No matter how much you love your child, poop is always gross, and now you have no choice but to touch it while you remove the soiled garments and clean up your bowel movement-covered baby. YOU HAVE TO TOUCH POOP.
Rest assured, dear newbies, you’ll get used to all the sights, sounds ,and smells that come out of your baby. By the time they turn one, you’ll be ready to just sit on them in order to cut their nails, and you’ll own so many nursing pads you’ll use Pinterest solely for Christmas crafts you could make with them. Enjoy the next 18 years!