Life with a newborn baby. We all think we know what it’s going to be like before we’re in the thick of it.
Remember those days when you naively imagined how parenting a newborn is 90 per cent baby snuggles? Cute. It doesn’t take long to wise up once there’s an actual baby on the scene, of course.
Let’s see how some of those expectations size up against the actual realities of life with a newborn baby, shall we?
Expectation: You have big dreams of maternity leave being kind of like a holiday, except even more awesome because there’s a baby to snuggle. Sure, you know babies are “hard work”, as everyone tells you, every chance they get, but they also apparently sleep a lot. This is the time when you can finally get your house in order, catch up on your reading and get coffee with mum friends.
Reality: It turns out being alone at home with a baby day-in, day-out can feel ridiculously isolating. At the same time managing to leave the house, baby in tow, is no walk in the park. Thanks to hormones and sleep deprivation, you’re in an unbeatable fog. You are genuinely shocked when you get to the end of the day and the most you’ve achieved is half an episode of Gilmore Girls and an emergency trip to the servo for a bottle of milk.
Expectation: It’s the middle of the night, and the house is still and quiet. Time to feed the baby. You climb out of your warm bed, wrap yourself in a snuggly dressing gown, and lovingly bundle up your precious newborn. You settle in the feeding chair, warmly lit by a lamp. As your baby feeds, you alternate between the bestseller you’re devotedly reading, and gazing into his eyes. While the rest of the world sleeps, the two of you share this precious, fleeting time together.
Reality: You’re woken sharply by either the three-hourly feeding alarm or the frantic wails of your hungry offspring. You die a little inside, then deliriously wrap yourself in the milk-spew-stained robe you forgot to wash that morning and attend to your child. You sink into the couch and flick on the Netflix series you’ve been binge-watching. Your little sleep-sucker bleats and squawks before finally agreeing to latch on. He feeds away – for a really long time, of course, while you battle to stay awake. The milk coma kicks in, his eyes begin to roll and the return to your snoring hubby’s side seems imminent. Suddenly, a tell-tale rumble emanates from his tiny bum. Cue a nappy change that’s sure to rouse him back to full consciousness.
Expectation: You won’t be one of those train wreck mums who takes half a day to get herself and her little one out into the fresh air. And you won’t be one of those schedule-obsessed mums who plans her whole day around naps either. No, you’ll be one of those savvy mums whose nappy bag is always ready to go. The one for whom leaving the house is a matter of strapping bub into an Ergo and grabbing her keys on the way out the door. You see parents out with their babies all the time, so you’re sure that with a little practice, you will master outings with your little one.
Reality: It turns out leaving the house with a baby is more of a delicate exercise than you ever imagined. Unexplained crying fits, realising you’re out of clean bottles, the dreaded poonami as you’re about to leave. These can all stop you in your tracks and make you re-evaluate your life decisions. Also, naps are life and you owe your now-schedule-obsessed self an apology for those ill-formed ideas otherwise.
Expectation: You excitedly look forward to cuddling and kissing the day away with your new baby. You know what love feels like, and you already completely love her in her half-cooked state. As she rolls and kicks in your belly, you can’t wait to experience the joy of holding her in your arms. This is life with a newborn baby and you can’t wait.
Reality: You had no idea. The way you imagined you would feel for your baby doesn’t hold a candle to this. The deep, complex, unbridled love-bomb that explodes in your heart every minute of every day since bringing this perfect, tiny, vulnerable human into the world. Your love for your baby simultaneously makes you sing and breaks your heart. Honestly, at times your heart doesn’t even feel fully equipped to deal with the kind of love you’re experiencing.
The reality of life with a newborn baby might be far from what you pictured – but you’ve got this! Now share this with a friend who will be faced with their own reality soon, and help ease their transition into babyhood!
Want to know more about what to expect when there’s a baby round the place? Read our previous article about 10 things babies do that freak new parents out.