1) I never smelled that new baby smell. My hospital stay was a blur, but after returning home with my new little ball of need, I smelled the back of his neck and the top of his head and thought, Ah, this must be that new baby smell everyone talks about! Then I realized I was only smelling Dreft laundry detergent, because I had washed all his newborn clothes before he was born. Everyone who visited inhaled the baby’s scent, and talked about how great it was. I lied and said I smelled it too. One evening after giving my son a bath, I sniffed the little wisps of his hair and thought, That must be the new baby smell! But then I realized I was only smelling shampoo and baby oil. Now people tell me the newborn smell has worn off. That’s OK. I still get to enjoy the scent of Dreft, shampoo and baby oil. And they still smell pretty good.
2) I was ecstatic to go back to work. This is no joke. When I was pregnant, I thought maternity leave would be a nice break – and it was – until I had the baby. I became a neurotic, anxiety-ridden, sleep deprived mess. At first, I was afraid this would get worse once I returned to work, but then I tasted freedom. My son started day care the day before I went back to my job. The second I stepped into the parking lot after dropping him off for the first time, I felt the biggest wave of relief wash over me. The darkness of the past two months were gone – just like that. Going back to work means I can feel like this every day! I thought. And I was right. Yes, sometimes my job is stressful, and yes, sometimes I miss my baby when I’m at work, but there is no way I could possibly be a stay-at-home mom. No way. I admire those who do it. I know that I can not. No. Way.
3) My priorities really didn’t change much. People love to tell you how having a baby changes everything and makes you reevaluate your priorities. In my case, that was only sort of true. Of course my life changed in the sense that now I have another person to be responsible for, and I have to work his needs into my daily routine, but as far as priorities go, my son has only confirmed what I’ve felt all along: Food is the most important thing in the world. I’m not trying to be funny. In the early days of motherhood, everything revolved around the baby’s feeding schedule and I use the term “schedule” loosely. My baby ate all the time, and food was usually the only thing that kept him from crying. Now that he’s outgrown the newborn stage, he eats a little less frequently, but if I’m leaving the house with the baby, the most important thing to pack is food – whether it’s formula, breast milk or a jar of smashed bananas. Food is usually the best way to keep a kid quiet, and (as my husband can attest to) it works pretty well for me too. In those hectic newborn days, some people told me “sleep when the baby sleeps” but I didn’t. I used that time to eat. Eventually I learned to eat and breastfeed at the same time. (I’ve only spilled ranch dressing on my baby’s head once.) Of course, sleep is the next priority behind food. My point is that I’ve been a big fan of both eating and sleeping long before my son was born. One thing that did change in terms of my priorities is that my job has suddenly become more important than ever. I’ve always known that I need a job to make a living, but now that I have the responsibility of a baby – a baby that really likes to eat – doing my job well has become a top priority. How else could we afford all that food?
4) When I tell you my baby is awesome, it’s because it’s true. Most parents gush about their children, but when I do it, it’s because my baby actually is that amazing. I’ve been around mothers who brag about their children, and then I meet their children, and think, these couldn’t possibly be the people you were telling me about. But in my case, I’m not lying when I say that my son is the coolest person I’ve ever met. His smile is so perfect it almost brings a tear to my eye. He makes me laugh every day, and I love to watch him interact with other people. He is more social than I could ever hope to be, and I’m even a little jealous. I know I’ve done a lot of griping about how hard it is to take care of a baby, but that’s not because there’s anything wrong with my baby. It’s because I’m a total wimp who likes to complain. As he gets older and cuter, I’m finding fewer and fewer things to complain about. Maybe I won’t feel this way once he hits the terrible twos or becomes a teenager, but right now, I’m telling you, my kid is awesome.