The Germans have this lovely term for new parents: frischgebackene Eltern. Which means “freshly baked parents”, haha. Even though the German phrase for “bun in the oven” is “einen Braten in der Röhre* haben”, which means they have not a bun (Brötchen!) but rather a roast in the oven.
*Side note: Incidentally, Röhre is a synonym for oven, but it also means “tube” or “pipe”. Hah.
It’s been funny hearing people ask how I’m doing as a freshly baked mom. And I am so very thankful to say that I’m doing really well. Lots of people have commented on how relaxed we seem to be as parents. I think part of that is that we have a pretty relaxed baby (so far, at least!). Yes, he’s a normal baby who cries, spits up, and needs to be held and comforted. But he’s been a pretty easy baby so far and lets us take him pretty much everywhere without putting up a fuss.
Becoming parents for the first time is definitely a steep learning curve, no matter how easy your baby is. Here are some things I’ve learned along the way:
1. You can never have enough burp cloths. Going to a baby shower and not sure what to bring as a gift? Burp cloths. I’ve got them strewn all around the apartment and yet somehow, I’m constantly finding myself sitting somewhere where there isn’t a burp cloth, and that’s exactly when I’ll need one.
2. People say all sorts of weird things. Those odd questions and comments you get while pregnant? It doesn’t stop when you’re a mom. People you don’t even know that well will still ask you all sorts of personal questions, like how breastfeeding is going, or if there were any complications at birth. And they’ll comment on the baby’s looks and which parent he most resembles, and one person will say exactly the opposite of what the last person said.
Also, pretty much everyone comments that babies can’t really see this early. I’ve had countless people comment on the fact that “oh his eyes are already open?” Um, yes…he’s not a puppy! Yes, babies sleep a lot, but they’re not born with their eyes closed. Ha! Babies can most certainly see, although not that clearly or not that far yet, but even just a few weeks old, they can follow an object with their eyes if you move it really slooooowly. It does change and develop more, and at some point you realize they’re looking intently at something rather than just staring. But that doesn’t mean they can’t see beforehand.
3. You’ll do whatever it takes to make your baby happy. All those pre-parenthood ideas you had about parenthood will fly out the window. Yes, sometimes the baby sleeps in the bed with me. And yes, a pacifier can be a really good thing. Okay, maybe not everything changes, but you realize quickly that when you’re running on a lack of sleep and dealing with a crying baby, you’ll do all sorts of “crazy” things to calm him down.
4. You’ll wish you had an extra set of hands. I’m actually nursing right now in such a way that I can type with both hands, and BOY do I feel productive! Theo doesn’t always cooperate, though. Cooking and eating has gotten interesting.
5. You’ll feel much better if you shower. Even if it’s a power shower that you take in about 30 seconds while the baby is crying, just do it. I haven’t had to do this yet (while baby is crying) because my schedule is flexible; so far I’ve been able to time things to shower when he’s asleep or content in his bassinet, but I’m sure that day will come. And when you’re fresh and clean, you’ll feel more like yourself and more able to function.
6. Breast pads are your best friend. I’m sure this borders on TMI, but I was eating breakfast this morning and on the rare occasion was wearing just a t-shirt without a bra. Theo starts fussing and I feel a tightening sensation that indicates the beginning of let-down…I try to finish the last bites of my breakfast before heading off to nurse him, and not one minute later, I’ve got a wet spot on my t-shirt that’s the size of my face. Awkward! At home, thankfully, that doesn’t matter. But out and about? Breast pads. FOR REAL. SO very necessary.
7. Breast milk is powerful stuff. Not only for feeding the baby, but for curing all sorts of ailments. Theo’s had clogged tear ducts since birth and we’ve tried all sorts of things – saline solution, black tea – and when I tried adding breast milk to his eyes, it cleared up much faster. It’s also good for cuts, scrapes, burns (I burned my hand and just put some breast milk on it and it didn’t hurt anymore). It’s also a good moisturizer and a pretty good zit cream. Haha!
8. Your feelings for your child are unlike any other feelings for any other person. It’s hard to imagine that feeling until you feel it. I love my husband A LOT and I think I love him even more seeing him be such a good dad to Theo. But it’s definitely a different kind of love, and rightly so. Both equally important, yet different types of love.
9. Trust your intuition. Obviously, every parent does things differently. But every kid is different and every situation is different, too. So you can read all sorts of advice, tips and tricks, but in the end, intuition is one of the best teachers. Trust it. Do what you’re comfortable with, even if others don’t agree or understand.
That’s all for now. I still want to shower before Theo wakes up. 😉