Top 10 Things I didn’t Fully Understand (or understand at all) Until I Brought My Baby Home

Hello Simply in the Flavor followers! It’s been quite some time. Since we were last together I got pregnant, birthed a baby, took three months maternity leave, got a new job and have been trying my hand at parenting. I’ve been a little busy! I’m back (until my next hiatus) and thought I’d share something with you I wrote when Isla Jaye was a little over three weeks old. As you know, sometimes I stray from the food writing, and this is one of those times. We can call this some what of a recipe of things I learned very quickly after bringing Isla home. Isla is now seven months old. A sense of normalcy has settled into our house and I can tell all of you first time parents out there who are in the beginning days, weeks and months of your babies lives that it will get better, you will sleep again and it really is all worth it.

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Babies are so emo.

This was taken in a 60 second span. Babies are so emo.

As prepared as I thought I was for the arrival of my daughter Isla, I wasn’t prepared at all. Yea, after 37 hours of labor and a very difficult delivery, I thought I was a warrior. Little did I know it was all fun and games before I left the hospital. Parents tried to tell me what it would be like to have a baby and I thought I got it. But I now know nothing prepares you for being a parent like being sent home with a baby. Now that I am an expert on these matters, having had my beautiful daughter at home for just over three weeks, let me at least help you expectant parents out there by telling you the following 10 things, already learned in such a brief period of time (not that it feels brief), are really really true.

1. You can’t get anything done – and people aren’t just saying that
Babies have a sixth sense. They know the exact moment you are becoming productive and they will somehow fuck it up. For example, after I wrote the third sentence of this piece and thought to myself, “Hey! I’m back in my writing groove! This feels great!” my daughter decided to start wailing over absolutely nothing except for the fact that my undivided attention was not on her. I thought during my maternity leave I’d catch up on a whole bunch of stuff that I had put on the back burner – you know, working on getting my novel published, starting my next book, organizing closets. Because I would have SO MUCH time on my hands! Well, let me tell you how a typical day goes: I start a project. My daughter cries. I feed her. Change her. Soothe her. Forget I started said project. I begin another project. Rinse and repeat until I have 14 different things going on and my husband comes home to a disheveled mess that I thought would be a sparkling clean and orderly house. My intentions are always good – and every day is going to be THE day I get shit done. So far, no day has been that day.

2. You will get excited over a bowel movement, a pee, a burp and basically any bodily function
I never in a million years thought I would be the parent who would praise my child for a poop diaper. I was wrong. After Isla’s first poop, I said in an all out baby voice, “Way to go! You’re such a good girl! Mommy is so proud of you!” And every time after she burps I sing-song that she is a genius. Because she is, isn’t she? Oh – and FYI for all you future moms out there – you’ll be excited about your own bowel movements, too. No one seems to talk about how your own bowel movements after delivering a baby are a triumph. So, now you know.

3. People say “sleep while you can” for a reason
This drove me insane at the end of my pregnancy. I was so ready to meet the little one inside of me and was so over being pregnant. I was annoyed with people who told me to enjoy the last few weeks before our baby’s arrival. I wanted to say, “I’m fucking swollen and uncomfortable and over being pregnant. Stop telling me to sleep and lounge around and do nothing!” And now, a little less than a month into this gig, I’m telling any pregnant and non-pregnant person who will listen to sleep while they can. You won’t believe how quickly your previous dreams of some luxurious vacation turn into dreams of eight hours of uninterrupted sleep.

4. Don’t get pissed at people who tell you “As prepared as you are, you can never be fully prepared”
I was prepared for how hard this would be – and I understood I would be sleep deprived – but I was COMPLETELY unprepared for how out of control my hormones would be and what an emotional roller coaster this gig is. The bottom line is, no matter how prepared you think you are, nothing prepares you for this role except diving right into it…which leads me to…

5. The first night you will ask yourself “Did I make the biggest mistake of my life?” and if you’re like me, you’ll ask yourself that a few times…or maybe more than a few times
And hey, it’s OK. Because babies can be major assholes. They can’t help it, of course. They are helpless beings and suck every ounce of what you have to give out of you. Just know that at some point you will wonder if you can do this. And trust me – you can. You might have to cry your way through it multiple times, or lock yourself in a closet and hide from the sounds of your baby crying for a little while. But YOU CAN DO THIS!

6. It’s important to find friends who are parents
Don’t get me wrong, my friends without children are amazing – I can tell you right now that I wouldn’t be able to do this mom thing without them. But there is something about looking into the eyes of another parent while telling a story of how you haven’t slept for days and have that parent look right back at you and say, “ME EITHER. THIS SUCKS”. Misery loves company, and all that jazz.

7. Eating a meal over the kitchen sink is a perfectly acceptable way to eat a meal
I never understood why people eat standing over the kitchen sink instead of plating a meal and sitting down. Until Isla was born. You have to shovel the food in as fast as you can while the baby is still asleep – because who knows how much time you have before she wakes up – and when she will sleep again. Kitchen sink meal, I love you.

8. You will receive unsolicited advice from anyone who has children – and some people who have never had children
When it comes to babies, people have opinions. People will tell you the “miracle worker” that magically put their baby to sleep (does that even really exist? I feel like these offerings are unicorns that I will chase forever and never find). People will tell you what bottles you MUST use or that breast feeding is the ONLY way. Also, people who don’t have children will decide they some sort of advice that is helpful – and it will annoy the shit out of you because you will suddenly feel like until they have babies, they don’t know what the fuck they are talking about. I was this person. Before I had a baby I loved to give little tidbits of things I had picked up from friends who had children. I now hate myself a little and want to apologize to everyone out there I ever advised before I had my baby. Sorry!

9. Something as simple as the very first smile will make it all worth it
The cliches are true – all of them. Recently my daughter cried for what felt like the entire day. Or an entire three days. But who’s counting? When my husband came home from work I threw her into his arms, forced him into the bedroom, made him turn on the sound machine, and closed the door while I hid in our hallway closet because it was the only place in our one bedroom apartment (yes, that’s right. one bedroom) that I couldn’t hear the painful cries of our daughter. I hid in the closet and sobbed, wondering if I made the biggest mistake of my life (see point number five). The next morning while filming Isla mastering the art of the pacifier (yes, something like that becomes an incredible achievement) she smiled at me for the first time, and I caught it on video. Suddenly every horrible and awful moment we had been through together was worth it. And I could watch the video 1000 times (note – Isla is now seven months and I have watched the video almost on a daily basis. it never gets old).

10. You will, at some point, become the person you swore you would never be when you became a parent
Whether you’re suddenly telling people to sleep while they can before they have children, or find yourself talking about the color of your baby’s poop at an adult dinner party, though you swore you would never do stuff like that before you had children, you will indeed become the person you swore you would never be before becoming a parent. Because hey, you had no fucking clue what you were in for before you baby arrived. Welcome to the club.

-November 19, 2014

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