It wasn’t very long ago that my days consisted of strong coffee and last-minute lunch dates. I had just married my best friend, and the changing leaves were welcoming a sense of serene bliss that I had never experienced before. We were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready to take on life as a unit.
I decided very early on that I wanted to be as unemployable as possible, so I got my degree in English. As a recent graduate from the University of South Dakota, I was super stoked to be starting at 605 Magazine, and felt like all I was missing was a dog. I was settling in and finding my role in our office while my husband was acclimating to a change in careers. We were a force to be reckoned with. A force that consisted of just the two of us, at least for now.
Must-Haves For The Hospital
- Bring clothes that are loose and comfy.
- Having a pillow or blanket from home can help keep you calm and focused.
- Honey straws provide a sweet burst of energy without breaking the “no eating” rule.
That was our initial plan, until a routine checkup turned into something much more. I remember looking out the window and listening to the nurse in the hallway type an email; her acrylic nails punching each word of someone’s recent diagnosis into the keyboard. We had been advised to start our family sooner than later to avoid possible complications. This moment of reality took our ignorance and flushed it down the drain, along with throwing a wrench into our “five-year plan.” So, we did what any couple in our situation would do and drank a bottle of wine while we binge-watched Bob’s Burgers.
“THIS MOMENT OF REALITY TOOK OUR IGNORANCE AND FLUSHED IT DOWN THE DRAIN, ALONG WITH THROWING A WRENCH INTO OUR ‘FIVE-YEAR PLAN.”
With the Merlot still hanging on from the previous night, we sat on our mismatched living room furniture, and even though we knew the answer to the lingering question, we held onto the last few moments of oblivion like the life raft we didn’t know we needed.
The funny thing about having a baby within the first year of marriage is that everyone’s reaction goes something like this: “Oh, wow, you didn’t wait long,” or, “Must’ve been a good honeymoon,” or (my personal favorite), “Are you Catholic?”
When did it become taboo to have a baby within months of “I do?” And since when did you have to defend your decision? These are things I asked myself as I looked in the mirror at my nonexistent belly, swearing to teach my child the importance of being understanding and having compassion.
Fast forward nine months, and we find ourselves with yet another setback. This time an entire set of socket wrenches hurled our way. (We’ve now vowed to never make plans again, because we are cursed and the verdict is still out on who has the voodoo dolls.) After a planned induction, 20 hours of labor and a lack of vitamin D, we had a tiny human of our own.
Birthing Playlist 101
- “BABY-BABY-BABY” – TLC
- “…BABY ONE MORE TIME” – BRITNEY SPEARS
- “BABY GOT BACK” – SIR MIX-A-LOT
- “BABY CAN I HOLD YOU” – TRACY CHAPMAN
- “ICE ICE BABY” – VANILLA ICE
She was the new kid on the block, the freshman, the greenhorn, and we now had the job of showing her the ropes. The problem is we are still learning the rules and regulations of life, not to mention the law and order of parenting. All of this occurred to me as my husband slept soundly on the couch that barely fit his 6’5” body, and my baby (which I was still getting used to saying) lay quiet and still in the hospital bassinet.
This was it. This was our new life, our new family. No longer would my nights be spent planning surprise weekend getaways in lieu of our honeymoon, but it would now consist of this; watching and listening to the loves of my life in their most vulnerable state. It’s a weird thing to have your role in the world change in a matter of seconds, but that’s what happened. The moment she took her first breath, I was no longer a 20-something writer that was newly married and addicted to coffee. I was a provider. I was a protector. I was a mom.
I’m a mom (still so weird to say) and I love it. It is the most difficult thing I have ever done, and each day seems like a year, but a year full of love and wonder and possibility. We are seven weeks into this new endeavor, and boy, is it a trip. All along I thought she was the newb, but jokes on me, because she seems to have more figured out than I do.
So, with a pacifier in one hand and prayer in the other, here we go.
What i’ve learned…
- Turn the shower on a few minutes before bath time to get the room nice and warm for your baby.
- Mom guilt is a real thing, and it’s okay to feel it.
- Never say no to a pre-made meal from a well-meaning neighbor or coworker.
- Getting a cute picture for instagram is a major accomplishment, but is not a priority.