Now that I have a five month old baby, Hazel, I realize that there were some things I never expected:
1. I Don’t Hear a Baby Crying Constantly. Before having a baby, I was anticipating non-stop screams—especially because my mother told me that I was pretty much crying constantly until I was a three year old (I had severe food allergies). What a pleasant surprise that Hazel rarely cries for longer than, say, five minutes at a time. She makes her wishes known in other ways, of course, by fussing and squirming. But screams? Pretty rare.
2. You Can’t Keep Working While on Maternity Leave. It really is impossible to get anything done after having a baby. Everyone told me this was the case: “You’ll have no free time at all!” But when you also hear that a newborn baby sleeps 16 hours a day, you start to wonder what all the complaining is about. What they don’t tell you before you go on maternity leave is that your baby sleeps on you, and if you try to set her down while she’s dozing, chances are, she’ll start fussing and immediately wake up. And have you tried using a computer with a sleeping baby in your lap? Very awkward!
3. The World Seems Way More Dangerous. Suddenly, from the moment I took my newborn baby home in a cab, the cars seemed faster, the buses louder and the people more reckless. Even though my neighborhood is very safe, I felt like it was one of the most dangerous places to live and that my baby could be struck by disaster at any turn. I am getting a bit less neurotic about this as I see that people will, in fact, slow down when they see a baby stroller—but sometimes I’m tempted to move to Amish country just to protect her. I don’t know how I’ll deal when my baby grows up and actually wants to leave the house alone!
4. I’d Rather Not Sleep Than Have Someone Else Bottle Feeding my Baby at Night. I had planned to start pumping my breast milk immediately after Hazel was born, so that my fiancé and I could take turns bottle feeding her and avoid too many sleepless nights. But after having a baby, I found that I loved the bonding that goes along with breast feeding my newborn—there’s nothing else like it. I ended up not pumping at all until Hazel was a nine week old; and even then I collected just enough to leave for her while I’m at work. The night time? Still all mine.
5. My Fiancé and I Have Turned Into That Couple. Before the birth, he and I laughed at those crazy new parents who would do things like buy a baby wipes warmer or call each other Mommy and Daddy, or sniff the baby butt in public to try to detect dirty diapers. My, how things change after having a baby. Daddy and I are just trying to do the best we can—it’s not like you can undress your kid every time you wonder if she needs a diaper change! And really, would you want a cold, wet wipe on your backside first thing in the morning? I don’t think so.