I have heard it in many a new mom’s voice. She’s home alone with her new baby and she’s on the edge. I totally get it because I’ve been there. And so have a lot of others who may not be sharing that information with you.
Let me assure you that I certainly felt that caring for a newborn was a lot harder than I ever would have expected. Or than anyone bothered to mention. Truthfully, when you’re pregnant, who even thinks that caring for a baby might be hard? Mostly you worry about delivering the baby. Not what happens after the birth. Those first days, weeks, and months are humbling. The ratio of pounds to chaos is mind boggling. If you are like most parents seeking childcare in the Washington DC metropolitan area you are highly educated and professionally successful. That’s why you’re here. You’ve been on career track and are working up the ladder. Then that bundle of joy arrives. Mind you, the baby was wanted, dreamed of, planned for. Well sort of. How do you plan for hours of colic? Or reflux? Or sleepless nights? And the list goes on.
The short answer is there is no real prep course. No SAT- GRE- GMAT- LSAT new parent prep course. Of course, you go to childbirth classes. But those classes are for childbirth– not what comes after. Thank heavens for those nurses in the hospital. They make it look so easy. Who knew there was so much you didn’t know. If you were like me, you’d never changed a diaper. Or swaddled a baby. Or bathed a baby. Or babysat. You WERE the baby of your family.
While we know that somehow babies survive their parents first bumbling months—everything seems so new and daunting and scary. If only that baby could talk and tell you what he or she wants. Trying to decipher the cries. Is it hunger or fatigue? Often, it’s YOUR fatigue. Having to get up at all hours of the night is a real test. The seemingly endless cycle of feeding, burping, changing, and trying to put them down to sleep. The basics of dealing with a newborn can simply be overwhelming. No one wants to tell you that while you’re pregnant. You have enough to deal with trying to find your feet. They don’t want to spoil it for you. It’s your first baby, and you’re so excited. Who’s going to tell you that pregnancy is the cakewalk—wait till the baby arrives! And, truthfully, there is no going back. Some people are better at this new parent role than others. Some babies are easier than others. They sleep more. They aren’t fussy eaters. It’s truly the luck of the draw.
In sum, caring for your own newborn can be a real challenge, but you are far from alone. And you WILL get through. The baby will start to sleep more. You’ll figure out how to feed him or her. You’ll get more sleep. The baby will start to interact with you. You’ll see a smile. You’ll think—I can do this. Maybe we’ll even have another!