Congratulations! You’ve survived giving birth and you’re the proud owner of your very own small human being. Now you get to bring your newborn home and begin a blissful life together.
Easy, right? Right? Oh dear…
1. Walk out of the hospital exhausted but glowing with pride as you make your first public appearance with your newly-expanded family. Think “Look, world! I made this little human!” Everyone is definitely looking at you, marvelling as you hobble past them, baby carrier strapped on, newborn snuggled against you. This is absolutely as big a deal to them as it is to you. You are amazing. AMAZING.
2. Suddenly think to yourself that everyone must be examining you and that you’re probably wearing the baby carrier wrong. Worry you might be walking too fast for a fragile little newborn and question if his tiny coming-home outfit you painstakingly picked out is a little over-the-top. Why is everyone judging you? Don’t they realise this is brand new for you and you’re learning!?!? Crisis of confidence commenced.
3. Walk a little slower and go cross-eyed just staring down at your baby to make sure you don’t jostle him too much. Or at all. Gah. Why are these things so fragile? Is he moving too much? Walk slower again totally avoiding lifting feet off ground at all. Try to glide and minimise all movement. Bulging huge breasts do not help to minimise baby’s bouncing. Dear god, breasts hurt. Focus, baby has just moved 5mm again, you must GLIDE.
4. Wait as your husband collects the car. Realise that you’ve been left all alone with a newborn for the first time, with no nurses within ear-shot like they were ten minutes ago. Calmly whisper, “It’s just you and me baby. And we’ll be fine.” Sort of believe it. Hope that baby is convinced even if you are not.
5. When the car arrives, together with your husband, and using only your fingertips, carefully place your tiny baby into the rear-facing car seat that your husband finally installed just this morning when it became apparent that this bringing-baby-home lark was an actual reality now. Spend a good 10-15 minutes really familiarising yourself with the complex buckle system. Only catch fingers three times. Hurts like war-zone-level torture. You’ll want to buckle and unbuckle bub a few times, just to make sure everything is really, truly secure.
6. As you slowly pour your sore, tired body into the front passenger seat (lady bits also hurting like they have survived war-zone-level torture) ask your husband sixteen times whether he really read the instructions when he installed the car seat because it doesn’t look like the ones on the internet.
7. Begin driving. Slowly. We recommend a good 10-15km under the limit, to be safe.
8. After a few minutes, realise that you can’t see the baby all the way back there, and wonder why he is so silent. Try not to panic. He was sleeping when you put him in the car seat; he’s probably still sleeping, right? RIGHT?
9. Sigh in relief when he suddenly bursts forth with a tiny, high-pitched little cry. See? There was nothing to worry about. He’s fine.
10. Except he’s crying. Why is he crying? Is he uncomfortable? Is he hurt? Is he in a bad position that will eventually lead to his airways being blocked? Is the sun in his eyes? What’s going on back there? WHY IS HE CRYING?
11. Have your husband pull the car over.
12. Get out of the car and hobble to the back. Pour your sore, tired body into the back passenger seat next to the baby. Much better. Pat him. Shake toys. Sing. Shove dummy in 25 times. Do WHATEVER IT TAKES to make the baby stop crying. Try to ignore faint sweat covering your whole body. Hope that faint sweat is not actually breasts leaking. Something feels damp either way.
13. Continue driving. Watch baby sleep serenely, his little chest rising and falling with every sweet breath.
14. Realise it’s been almost three hours since the baby last fed, and you are still AT LEAST TEN MINUTES FROM HOME.
15. Have your husband pull the car over.
16. Get out of the car and hobble to the baby’s side. Unbuckle his little seat belt and using only your fingertips, lift him out carefully. Climb into the front passenger seat and begin to feed him, shooting your husband a wild-eyed deer-in-the-headlights look as you do so, to fully communicate the fact that this whole experience is quite overwhelming.
17. After 30 – 40 minutes, sensibly decide that the baby should have enough in his tummy now to last the rest of the short drive home. Using only your fingertips, carefully place the baby back in his car seat for the journey home. Pour your sore, tired body back into the seat beside him and watch him, unblinking, for the rest of the drive.
18. Arrive home. Hobble around to the baby’s side. Unbuckle the seat belt, which you are now a total pro at. Using only your fingertips, carefully lift him from his seat and strap him into the baby carrier. Sure, it’s only a short walk to the front door, but you’re not going to be the Mum who dropped her newborn on his first day home. Surely this is how everyone carries their newborns around, yes? Definitely responsible mothers anyway.
19. Shuffle carefully to the front door. Every stick is an obstacle, every crack in the path a death trap determined to trip you up. Contemplate total renovation of the home for increased baby-carrying-safe-passage. Make note to discuss this with husband later.
20. Walk into your home. Breathe it in. And realise with a tired, nervous, but happy heart that this is now a family home, and the life you live here will never quite be the same.