While The Kid and I were waiting for the elevator at our local mall the other day, I noticed a newborn in the stroller next to us.
After leaning in to take a proper look and making the appropriate “ooooooh” and “aaaaaah” noises at her, I turned to the baby’s mom and started asking all of the standard questions:
How old is she?! 3 weeks.
OMG, how do you look so good?! Um…
Are you getting any sleep? No.
With this last question, the woman looked at me with tear-filled eyes and a wobbly lip and said, “but it gets better, right?!”
In that moment, I wanted nothing more than to take that poor woman into my arms, stroke her hair, and rock her to sleep. But since I spend about 90% of my time at that mall, and the staff already think I’m crazy as it is, I decided it would be better if I just chatted with the woman for a little while.
So I told her about my own struggles at the beginning.
I admitted I didn’t really enjoy it at first when I was awake night after night with a crying baby, wondering why I couldn’t get her to go to sleep.
I assured her that, as annoying as it is when people tell you “it gets better”, it really is the truth. It does get better. More than better, actually. It becomes so incredibly awesome.
And I promised her she would sleep again.
But I didn’t tell her she would never sleep past 7 am again in this lifetime, and that she would soon be trading sleep for a few minutes of alone time. She doesn’t need to know about that part yet.
By the time we reached our destinations (the car park for her, the liquor store for me), we reached that awkward pause where neither of us knew what to do or say. Thinking back to how I felt when I was in her shoes, I’m sure she would’ve liked to stand there talking to me all day, but I had booze to buy, a toddler to entertain, and a blog to get home to, so I I wished her luck, gave her arm a reassuring squeeze, and went on my merry way.
But when I got home, I couldn’t stop thinking about her, and I was so angry at myself for not giving her my email address. She clearly needs a friend she can lean on as she navigates this whole Mom thing.
Just like I did 2 years ago.
So on the off-chance that I bump into her again, I decided to write down some of the things the first year of motherhood taught me in hopes I can spare her the steep and difficult learning curve that is motherhood.
Here’s what I’ve got so far:
1. Throw all of the swaddle blankets and velcro gimmicks into the trash and find a place that sells Miracle Blankets. And make sure to buy at least 2, or someone will have to take you away in a strait jacket when (not if) your child projectile vomits or poops all over it at bedtime.
2. Hair dryers and vacuums work wonders for colicky babies. They also help ensure your husband doesn’t sleep too soundly if they are used in unison in the middle of the night.
3. Sign-up for a postnatal mom-and-me class as soon as possible, and exchange email addresses with all of the other moms. Even the ones that make you want to put a fork in your eye. You’ll thank me later.
4. The woman at the park who brags her child took to breastfeeding without any issues and slept through the night from day one, and claims her sex life is better now than it’s ever been is a big, fat LIAR!
5. Remember that diapers can hold 12-ish hours of pee, so do yourself a favor and don’t automatically change your child every time she cries . . . like I did.
6. While you might not agree with Weissbluth’s approach to sleep training, his whole “sleep begets sleep” theory will save your life.
7. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
8. Whenever someone gives you crappy, unsolicited parenting advice, remember 2 things:
1. Go with your gut. Your mommy instinct is very rarely wrong.
2. Write that stuff down. It’ll make for excellent blog fodder one day.
9. Each time (and there will be many) you reach your breaking point, things will miraculously get better.
10. Start a blog. It’ll introduce you to some of the best friends you’ll ever have in this lifetime.