7 Things I Learned in My First Week of Parenting
Our little Max is one week old today – which is pretty mind-blowing to me, really.
I mean, on the one hand, it feels like he’s been here forever. On the other hand, though, I just can’t stop talking – like, literally CANNOT STOP TALKING, sorry to everyone who’s had to listen to me – about how, just a few days ago, this little bundle was INSIDE MY BELLY, I mean, CAN YOU EVEN?
Guys, I cannot even.
This time last week I was sitting in a hospital room, shaking with nerves as I waited to be taken down to theatre, absolutely convinced that something was about to go catastrophically wrong.
And this week? This week I’m sitting typing a blog post from the comfort of my own bed, with this little face next to me:
In related news, there’s a strong possibility my heart is going to burst at some point, seriously.
Our first week as new parents has been a blur of night feeds and nappy changes, plus a constant stream of visitors. I feel a bit like I woke up on a moving treadmill, with no option but to just start running, even although I haven’t had time to draw breath, and actually, I’m not even all that good at running. As crazy as it’s been, though, I really want to try to document these precious first days with our baby boy, so here are some things I’ve learned in my first week of parenthood…
Having a newborn is a lot like running a commercial laundry
Seriously, though: I’ve always thought Terry and I got through a lot of laundry, given that there were only two of us in the house at the time, but Max generates more laundry in a day than both of us would in a week. Like, we’ve already had to have Hotpoint out to fix the washing machine, THAT’S how much laundry we’ve done.
(This is Max’s washing for, like, half a day or something. The giraffe’s all, “WTAF?!”)
(OK, slight exaggeration. Only slight, though…)
As I write this, Terry is ironing the clothes of ours that the baby spit up on last night, and there’s another load of whites making their way through the wash. Once that’s done, we’ll either sit down and take a few breaths, or we’ll just start doing more laundry. (CLUE: IT’LL BE THE LAUNDRY.)
Being undressed for any reason is, like, the WORST THING that can happen to a baby, seriously.
In general, Max is a pretty chill little baby. I mean, he cries when he’s hungry, or if he needs a nappy change, obviously, but, other than that, he seems pretty content to either sleep, or gaze around him in wonder at everything. Try removing his clothes or nappy for any reason at all, though, and it’s like when Bruce Bannon transforms into The Hulk. Max is just OUTRAGED by your attempt to change his dirty nappy, or put him in some fresh clothes, and when Max is outraged, he’s ALL DRAMA. It’s basically the only time you can tell he’s related to me, as opposed to just being 100% Terry, so hey, at least I’ve given him SOMETHING, huh?
On the subject of fresh clothes, though…
LOL to the idea that I would dress him in “outfits”
Before he was born, I had this crazy idea that I’d carefully pick out a little outfit for him every morning, and that would be what he’d wear that day. Which is just, HAHA, NOPE.
Yeah, onesies are basically all we can manage at this point, and, rather than carefully selecting the one that best matches his eyes, or whatever the hell I thought I’d be doing, it’s mostly just a case of reaching for whichever one happens to be a) clean and, b) within reach at the time.
SERIOUSLY, AMBER, Y U SO CRAZY?
As it turns out, though, no outfits have been wasted due to this delusion of mine, because it turns out that Max is so tiny (By which I mean he’s a totally normal size for a newborn, it’s just that I had absolutely no idea what size that was going to be…) that absolutely none of the clothes I’d bought for him fit him yet. On our first morning at home, my mum messaged me to say she was going to the supermarket, and did I need her to pick anything up, and I was just like, “ONESIES. BRING ONESIES. TINY ONES.”
So, as things stand, Max currently has 6 onesies that fit him (But which still look too big, because he likes to pull his hands and legs towards his chest, so he’s basically just a tiny ball in the centre of his clothes, with the empty fabric of the arms and legs flapping around him), and approximately 6,897 that are gigantic on him.
Er, at least he’ll grow into them, right?
(I was just joking about the c-section: Max was actually delivered by a stork, the old-fashioned way…)
Sleep is for the weak
Absolutely everyone talks about the sleep deprivation you go through with a newborn, so I’m not going to dwell on it, other than to say that it’s amazing how quickly you progress from, “God, I only got around 3 hours sleep last night: nightmare!” to, “Yeah, I got a full three hours: pretty good, no?”
On that note, I’d suspected this would be the case, but the whole “Sleep when the baby sleeps,” thing? Yeah, that’s not going to work. I mean, it would be cool if it did, because it’d mean we’d be getting something like 20 hours sleep a day, but it would also mean that all of the visitors we’ve been getting would just be sitting there looking at this view:
Poop can be green.
And it can also be yellow.
I’ll just leave that statement hanging there, for those of you who, like me, have never had to care for a newborn before…
Staring at a baby is a totally legitimate hobby for a new parent
I know a lot of people say they find the newborn stage a little boring, on account of the fact that new babies basically just eat, sleep and poop all day long, but I’ve honestly been loving it. Every single thing Max does is absolutely fascinating to me, so I spend a lot of time just staring at him, and going, “Look, Terry, he waved his arm! He blinked! Lookit how cute he is!” Oh yeah, and when I’m not with him, I look at photos of him on my phone instead. It’s my hobby, and I like it…
I really wasn’t joking when I said my heart might explode
It’s another one of those things that people talk about to the point of cliche, so you listen to them, and you’re just all, “Yeah, yeah, WE GET IT, it’s like your heart is now outside your body, plus every other cliche you can think of,” but honestly, nothing can prepare you for the amount of love you feel for this tiny little creature who’s just dropped into your life. On our first night at home, I woke up to see Terry pacing the floor, trying to rock Max to sleep, and just the sight of that little dark head bobbing around in Terry’s arms made me want to burst into tears. Given that this is just the BACK OF MY BABY’S HEAD we’re talking about, you can imagine how something like his face, say, or his tiny little hands, or that cute little roll of skin at the back of his neck gets me.
(See also: HORMONES. RAGING.)
The flip side of this, of course, is that the love comes with the absolute terror that something might happen to him. We spent one night in hospital (I’ll be writing about our hospital stay, and his birth story, as soon as I get a few hours to myself: so, pencil that one in for some time in 2025-ish, then…), during which I couldn’t really move much on account of having just had surgery a few hours before, so I tried to convince Terry that he had to stay awake all night to make sure the baby didn’t just randomly stop breathing or something. Then I stayed awake too, just to make sure someone had EYES ON at all times.
(Terry rolled his eyes at this, but I wasn’t fooled: I know he’d have stayed awake anyway. Since we’ve been home, though, he’s had this crazy-ass idea that we could both try to sleep simultaneously, which… yeah. I’m working on it.)
So. The first week has been hard in lots of ways (Not least the fact that Terry’s mum was admitted to hospital again yesterday morning: there’s obviously a whole lot more to be said about that, but it’s another, “don’t have the words” one, so I’ll leave you to imagine just how extreme the highs and lows have been this week…), and I’ll be writing about it all in more detail soon, I’m sure, but, despite everything, it’s also been one of the happiest weeks of my life. Throughout my pregnancy, whenever people would ask if I was worried about the actual parenting part of this journey, I’d say no, not really: that, for me, the pregnancy and birth was the hard part, and that, if I could get through that, I was pretty sure I could do anything.
(Well, almost anything. I still couldn’t do a skydive, or touch a crab, say, and now I come to think if it, I STILL can’t clean glass properly, or change the duvet cover without wanting to stab myself. You know what I mean, though…)
Well, it’s still early days, obviously, and I’m sure there will be many, many times when I’ll want to eat these words, but, for now, I think I was right. Because the moment I heard that first cry in the operating theatre, a wave of relief washed over me, and I’ve been living on that feeling ever since.
Our baby boy is here, and he’s perfect.
Everything else is just detail, really, isn’t it?