‘We want to commemorate a lot of firsts for babies — first baths, first car rides, first teeth, and so on. What about Mom, though?’ : A mother reflects on her “firsts” as a mother.

Mom’s Firsts

We enjoy commemorating many of a baby’s firsts. You name it: a baby’s first bath, first vehicle ride, or first tooth. Pages of my daughters’ baby books are dedicated to this. What about Mom’s firsts, though? If you look at any of those things through the eyes of a new mom, you’ll notice that they’re all firsts for her as well. She’s still figuring things out. There are also other things she must figure out on her own. If you’re a new mom or soon to become one, there are some things you’ll likely do for the first time that you won’t expect. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Leaving the House Alone With A Newborn

It was one thing leaving the hospital with Madison when I had Matt by my side, a nurse to double-check the car seat straps, and no commitments. It was a different story when I had to leave the house alone with Madison for our first doctor visit. I estimated that it would take me approximately an hour to get her ready. Shouldn’t there be enough time? I fed her, burped her, and clothed her. She then proceeded to poo in an explosion and had to be properly redressed.

Then I tried to get her into her car seat, but I forgot how to relax the straps (you push a concealed button while tugging on them), and they were too tight to easily pull over her arms without hurting her. So I fiddled with it for a while, watched a YouTube video, and eventually figured it out. She’d become really fussy, and I assumed she’d become hungry again. After all, she was nursing every hour or so. So I hastily fed her and buckled her in, arriving at the appointment five minutes late and completely flustered.

2. Going Back To The Grocery Store
Okay, this one might seem dumb of me. I don’t know. Obviously if you take a small child to the grocery store, you can sit them in the top of the cart right by the handle. But a newborn can’t hold their head up, let alone balance on the seat of a moving cart. So what do you do with them? It seems really silly, looking back, that I didn’t know what to do considering how many times I’ve done it now. But I had never seen it done (or noticed, at least) and at the time I hadn’t even had her in a wearable carrier yet and I was nervous to try that, too. So I texted a friend to ask what she did.

She told me the car seat would fit on the top half of the cart. This had not occurred to me and it totally worked. I have since gone to the grocery store countless times with Madison and with Mallory (separately) either in the car seat or in the wearable carrier. It is actually quite simple as long as they don’t start screaming. I have yet to abandon a cart full of groceries in order to tend to a screaming child, but I have had to hurry up and check out. Forget the yogurt, let’s go!

3. Using Any New Baby-Related Equipment

Madison was born a week before her due date, and one of the things I had planned to do with the week I thought I had left before her delivery was familiarize myself with all of the new devices I’d purchased that was supposed to make having a newborn easier. A sound machine, a baby monitor, a bottle warmer, a sanitizer, a foldable stroller, and other items had been purchased. I had no idea how to operate any of them, which was really stressful given that I was also caring for a newborn.

My sister assisted me in figuring out a handful of things. My mother-in-law and I both pitched in. With help, I was able to resolve everything. None of these are very difficult on their own. All I could think about was the unknown. But, if you have time before the baby arrives, I encourage you to do what I had intended and familiarize yourself BEFORE the baby arrives. But don’t worry if you don’t get the chance. You’ll figure everything out. And you don’t actually require any of it. Breastmilk or formula, diapers, and affection are all you really need. The remainder will follow.

4. Leaving Child In Someone Else’s Care
Even for an hour so I could go to the dentist, it really stressed me out to leave Madison with anybody else. I left her with my mom and thought about her constantly and hurried back. And she was completely fine, obviously. Once I did it that time, it got easier and easier to do it again. So I recommend just doing it. Start really small if you need to.

5.Sending Child To Daycare
Okay, so I got over letting her stay with my mom for an hour or two, but when my maternity leave ended my mom had Madison at her house during the days while I worked from my home. I wasn’t nervous about this, but I was sad. Even though I looked forward to getting back into an adult mind frame and having some quiet time, I still missed her like crazy. I went over almost every day for lunch for a while. And returning to my house for work felt lonely. The house felt uncomfortably empty and her toys looked oddly abandoned. But eventually, I got used to it, and I didn’t always have time to go over for lunch and that was okay.

And then one day she started daycare at a formal facility which was another emotional hurdle for me. I was nervous for her. I hoped she’d settle in and not feel scared and nap well and just generally not be sad. Of course, you can’t control all these things, so at some point she’s just got to work it out. It turns out she did fine. She didn’t jump right in, but she slowly warmed up, she did nap, and she even had fun. The daycare has a camera that parents can log into to see their little ones during the day and I checked into it like crazy for the first few days. Slowly, over time, I stopped checking in entirely. And now she loves daycare and looks forward to it (and so do I).

Those are just a few firsts that stood out in my mind. Things I had to navigate as a new mom I hadn’t given a lot of thought to beforehand. I am still having firsts here and there as Madison progresses through toddlerhood; I suppose there isn’t really an end to all that a parent needs to figure out. But the firsts I faced as a new mom were the most stressful because everything was new at that time. I hope in reading this, a new mom out there might have a little less shock and a little more confidence when faced with firsts like these.

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