March 2, 2014

18 Things I Wish I Had Known As a New Parent. ~ Nina Cutter

Babies and small children glow with ojas

If I could go back in time to those first few months of motherhood, I’d write myself the following letter.

If I could go back in time to those first few months of motherhood, I’d write myself the following letter.

Dear Nina,

1.  I know… You’re tired. This may come as bad news, but you’ll sort of get used to it. The only advice I can offer is to go to bed at 8 p.m.

2.  Take a deep breath. I’m sure it’s normal. Whatever it is… don’t Google it. Here are a few answers for you: No, her thumbs won’t always tuck in like that. No, her soft spot isn’t pulsating more than usual.

3.  Always, always bring a change of clothes for the baby. Inevitably she will “explode” while you’re at the pediatrician’s office. And you will worry that they will take her away from you when they see you putting a baby covered in poop into a car seat.

4.  Have a strategic and thoughtful plan in place for how you’ll handle your iPhone telling you that you can’t take any more pictures. I recommend an external hard drive.

5.  Take your stool softener.

6.  The word “bittersweet” will come to describe so many things in your life: your baby growing up; days passing too quickly; days passing too slowly; and time alone with your husband becoming a special occasion. Remember the quote: “When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow.”

7.  Believe it or not, one of these days you will find yourself licking your baby’s pacifier and you won’t even care. Trust me—it’s not as gross as as the belly-button stump situation.

8.  You may find yourself up at 3 a.m. watching weird YouTube videos of parents swaddling their babies because you and your husband can’t agree on whether to tuck, or fold, or leave the baby’s arms out. Repeat after me: This isn’t nearly as important as it seems right now. Go back to sleep.

9.  Buy an exercise ball. Use it for crunches while the baby is napping. Ha ha ha ha! Try cradling your baby in your arms and gently bouncing up and down on the ball. It may calm her when she’s crying. And no, this kind of bouncing will not cause brain damage… I’m fairly sure.

10.  Find a community of fellow new parents. Be honest, open and kind about your experiences as a mother, and you’ll have friends for life.

11.  Invest in some cozy can-be-seen-by-everyone-yoga-pants that you won’t mind wearing a lot. Also it is good to have a super-sized water bottle.

12.  Feeding your baby while watching television, checking your phone or reading a book is totally fine.

13.  At some point, you will wake up from a deep sleep and p-a-n-i-c. Where is the baby? When did she eat last?  Is she alive? This is normal. You are just beyond exhausted. (But maybe go check on the baby, just in case.)

14.  With your new life occupied with feedings, spit up, sleep, diapers and entire days spent staring at your baby, you may be wondering where y-o-u fit into the picture. Who are you now? Is the old “you” still there? Will life ever return to “normal?” Refer back to #10. Having friends in similar existential crises will be your saving grace.

15.  Starbucks drive-thru, Amazon Prime, and a person to clean your house every couple of weeks—worth every penny.

16.  Your baby will eventually fall off your bed, or the changing table, or some other surface, and you will feel like the worst parent in the entire world.

a) You’re not.

b) If another parent expresses shock or disdain, or claims that this hasn’t happened to them, they are lying.

17.  On that note, you’re doing great. I promise.

18.  Finally, when all else fails, put down the parenting books and just pay attention. Be an anthropologist. Watch, observe and study your baby, and she will tell you everything you need to know. It truly is as simple as that.

Love and sleep,


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Editorial Assistant: Dana Gornall / Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo Credit: elephant archives

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