We've welcomed the newest member of our family to planet Earth this week with the arrival of my niece's first child, a healthy baby boy. That makes me a GREAT aunt and that's all we're gonna say about that!
Seeing her and her husband figure out what to do with their little pooping, fussing, perfect little bundle of baby brings back all those emotions of the shock and AHHHHH of being a first time parent. If I were being honest, the emotions weren't that different with my second born. Parenting doesn't exactly come naturally to Adam and me.
When visiting them in the hospital, the baby started to fuss and mommy and daddy were immediately startled and anxious to find the solution. I remembered how freaked out I was when Jonah would cry. It was completely irrational, but I was sure that something horrible was going to happen. My heart would race as soon as he started to cry. I'd frantically start looking for the solution. And let's not forget, Jonah had colic so he cried ALL THE TIME...for months. There was no solution. I was a walking, pacing maniac until he was 16 weeks old. Looking back, I think those 16 weeks were just one looooooong panic attack.
Adam and I were such rookies when Jonah was born. Neither of his had much more experience with babies than the occasional babysitting gig with our family and friend's children and with my nieces and nephews when I was a teenager (I was a young Aunt if you haven't already figured that out). I really had no experience with a newborn.
On top of it all, when I was pregnant I had figured out exactly what kind of parent I was going to be. I had decided that I was going to be flexible, not sweat the small stuff, not be Hitler with routines. Essentially, I thought parenting would be a very natural experience and the answers would just present themselves along the way. And I truly believe that is the experience for many of my friends. Lisa over at Extraordinary Ordinary is the most easy going momma I've ever met and she has three children under 4 years old. You've got to read her post on Insanity. It's a long one but so very worth it.
However, my plan for being an easy breezy mom didn't really pan out. I wanted to be, but I simply couldn't control myself from being completely freaked out. I remember driving home from the hospital with Jonah. I was in the backseat while Adam was driving. I cried the entire way home because he was driving too fast or not fast enough, and I was sure Jonah would burst into flames at any second. I cried when we left the hospital because I was worried that, without the nurses, I wouldn't know what to do. I cried when I got home because I was so happy that Jonah didn't burst into flames on the ride home. I was such a mess. I had my mom and Kevin meet us at home so they could unload our car because I was afraid there would be too much to do and Jonah would again burst into flames. Again, that did not happen.
Five years and two babies later, I'm a little more tolerant of the crying, not quite so uptight about the small stuff and have a few tricks up my sleeve, like knowing that babies don't burst into flames so I've stopped worrying about that.
But I truly believe that your brain decides what kind of parent you are going to be the first instant you see your newborn baby. Nothing can change that. All of your plans and preconceived notions about parenting are thrown out the window. I have friends that were so unbelievably TYPE A before children but found a certain peace of mind with their new role as parents. It is what it is, so they say.
I hope my niece will be able to enjoy this time with her baby more than I did and allow people to help. I hope she is smarter than me and will let her house be a little messy after a long, sleepless night. I hope she will not feel compelled to bother the on-call pediatrician 2-3 times each week at 2:00 am just to have them tell her that 24 hours without a poopy diaper is okay. I hope she will not go to the baby's 2 week check up and leave with a prescription paper from the doctor that says "Mommy needs to relax!"
What kind of parent are you? I'd love to know. Leave a comment:)