You Know Nothing, Jon Snow: A First Timer’s Humbling First Weeks with Baby

March 6th 2017 two parents lovingly, gently strap their newborn baby girl into the car seat and begin the drive home from the hospital…at 25mph. Every bump in the road and pump of the breaks caused my husband and I to cringe and check to make sure our angel hadn’t been disturbed. This was it. This was the beginning of our life as a family!
I had visions over the last nine months of what this would be like…Visions of peaceful mornings spent rocking my baby in front of an open window; visions of my girl cooing happily in a perfectly clean living room; visions of me wearing a white cotton nightgown effortlessly breast feeding while my husband looked on approvingly, admirably…Basically my idea of life with a newborn consisted of snippets from Febreze, Pampers and Downy commercials. I was soon to realize that Jon Snow was not the only person who knows nothing…

Fast forward to approximately 12:00 am on March 7th, 2017. I was not wearing a white cotton nightgown. In fact, I don’t even own a white cotton nightgown. The baby was not cooing happily. There was no snuggly bear bouncing in a laundry basket congratulating me on the softness of my linens. My husband and I were tag teaming a diaper change after being startled awake by the sound of our child struggling to properly eject spit up from her throat. Half of my shirt had been soaked by a leaking breast. The post-labor adrenaline had worn off. I was tired. I was anxious. I was emotional. I understood why I could practically hear my mother and sister rolling their eyes through the phone when I dreamily spoke of my laundry-scented visions of motherhood…
The first month home with baby was a blur. Time passed fast and slow. I spent the days hovering dangerously close to a Britney Spears circa 2007 meltdown (and for as much as I cared about my hair shaving it off didn’t seem so bad!). Afraid to set my baby down, I didn’t eat a hot meal. I specifically remember my husband attempting to feed me while I nursed the baby-it was unsuccessful and in addition to vomit I was also wearing my dinner. I cried the first time I gave her a sponge bath because she cried. She projectile vomited on me and I sobbed while I changed my shirt for the third time that day. I didn’t shave my legs despite finally having the mobility to do so because I was speed-showering worried that she would need me. I remember realizing, “I’m Jon Snow. I know nothing.”

It was day 1428 of no sleep (okay, I’m being dramatic, but I was desperate for more than 90 minutes of sleep!). The dust of family visits and well-wishers had settled and I was having yet another teary conversation with my sister. This time I was explaining my attempts at getting my baby on a schedule and dissecting the myriad of possibilities as to why it failed. Yes, I had spent some time online and was lead to believe I could schedule a five week old-I give kudos and a middle finger to the mothers who are able to pull this off. Anyway, my sister, being a new mother herself, said something simple that caused me to pause. She practically yelled, “Stop trying to make sense of her! Babies don’t make sense!”  It was just the verbal bitch slap I needed.

Since then I’ve realized that time and patience are the best teachers and being a new mother requires a lot of both. In all the chaos, anxiety and torturous sleep deprivation that accompanies those first weeks with a newborn, being patient with my baby and myself is the only way to survive the learning curve.

I’ve embraced the humbling experience of life with a newborn and accepted that I know nothing. I am now looking forward to all the lessons this new life will teach me. To squeeze in another Game of Thrones reference, winter is here, but it won’t last forever.  Sleep will come. A schedule will form. I will look forward to mornings again. In fact, I’m having a great one as I type this. The laundry is clean, the shades are open and my eight week old baby is cooing happily in my clean living room…

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